The castles in Japan might not fit into the concept of the ancient western citadel, but they appear completely different than castles in Europe, however, they were constructed for much of the same reasons. They started to appear in the Land of the Rising Sun during the 15th century, when Japan was breaking up into warring states. Later, these castled were constructed as homes for feudal lords, or daimyo and places of governance. At once, there were over five thousand castles in this country; but today, there are only 100 with a dozen that have existed from the feudal era. Japan has structures of stone and wood offer visitors a unique glimpse of Japan’s feudal past. If you are visiting Japan and have an interest in exploring the castles located here, then read on to know about the most popular castles in this country.
Known as the most remarkable of present feudal-era castles in Japan, Himeji Castle is situated west of the capital of the Hyōgo Prefecture-Kōbe. The fortress is usually known as the White Heron Castle as the castle is white-plastered towers similar to a snowy egret in flight. It was constructed on the site of earlier castle in the year in 1601. The castle is sited on the hilltop that contains of 83 structures centered on the Tenshu-gun, a complex of connecting buildings and keeps. The main keep is a six-story structure which can be seen from any location in Himeji City. This castle has been featured in many films including “The Last Samurai,” and the James Bond adventure film “You Only Live Twice”.
Matsumoto Castle is located in a mountainous area to the north-west of Tokyo. This castle is set on a structure of stone bounded by a huge moat. The castle was built in the year 1590. This multi-storied castle is trimmed in black, giving the fortress its nickname- ‘Crow Castle’. The main keep or donjon is the oldest of any castle in Japan. The castle also provides stunning views of the Hijiri Kōgen mountains. Though, Matsumoto is a hirajiro or a flatland castle, it was constructed for fortification. There are several openings to drop stones on invaders or fire arrows throughout the keep.
Matsue is the only castle remaining in the San’in Region on the southwest coast of Japan’s main island. It is unique in a way as it never saw military action, although it was built in a watchtower and defensive style. Constructed in the year 1611, this hilltop fortress were completed post the last great feudal war. Most of the castle complex was take to pieces in the year 1875 and only the main keep & the Ishigaki, or stone walls are extant. During 1950s, the reconstruction of the fortress was started. The castle’s nickname, “The Black Tower,” epitomizes its striking ebony color. Visitors are permitted to visit the keep and the grounds. Also, there are boat tours offered approximately the outer moat as well.
Apart from these, Hikone Castle and Hirosaki Castle are the other two most popular castles of Japan.