All Japanese Castles in Kyoto

Japanese Castles

Guide to over 130 Japanese Castles including history, design, architecture, pictures and interactive map.  Only one Japanese Castle has UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the recently restored Himeji Castle. Three other castles, along with Himeji Castle, have been declared National Treasures by the Japanese Government: Hikone Castle, Matsumoto Castle and Inuyama Castle.

Japanese castles were frequently constructed in strategic locations to protect important transport routes such as bridges, rivers or ports. Others were built to dominate a landscape and provide a final point of defense. Many Japanese castles were the basis for the development of cities, while others were located in difficult to reach mountain tops.

The most common type of Japanese castle is the Flat Land, that featured one or more moats, plus one or more sets of outer walls, then a raised platform where the inner castle buildings were protected by a series of large stone walls, turrets and donjon or main tower.

Himeji Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site

Himeji Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site

Japanese castles really came of age in the 14th century, reaching their peak in 17th century. However by the late 19th century the roll of castles had change. Modern canons of the time could destroy enough from a distance making castles far more vulnerable than they had been in the past. This meant castles were no longer of such great defensive value, however they still represented a symbol of great power over the people of a region, who didn’t have any weapons that could threaten a castle. With most of Japan unified under one relatively recent central government, the remaining castles represented symbols of regional power that could threaten the level of control a distant government could exert. It was during this period the Meiji Restoration, when most castles either had their donjon (main tower) or in some cases almost all stone work disassembled.

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    Nijo Castle

    Nijo Castle in the heart of Kyoto includes Ninomaru Palace and several beautiful Japanese gardens. Nijo Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms part of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)” listing. In 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Shogun, ordered the construction of the Read more [...]

  • Fushimi Castle

    Fushimi Castle, also known as Momoyama Castle, was a hilltop style Japanese Castle in Fushimi Ward Kyoto. Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered the construction Fushimi Castle was completed in 1594, only to be destroyed in 1596 by an earthquake. Fushimi Castle was then rebuilt, but fell in a siege in 1600. In Read more [...]