It is impossible to talk about Japan without mentioning the amazing castles of ancient times. These are memories of the past that still live today and allow us to see Japan from a different angle. For those who want to see more than the modernity of Tokyo, creating a castles’ itinerary might be a great idea, and you definitely won’t be disappointed with what you’ll see.
I’ve made a list of 19 castles that you might want to see during your trip.
If you want to know a little more about these amazing castles, the opening hours, the admission fees and how to get there, I explain everything you need to know in the next paragraphs.
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Opening hours: During summer, from 9:00 to 17:00 (gate closes at 18:00), rest of the year 9:00 to 16:00 (gate closes at (17:00)
Admission: 1050 yen (adults), 360 yen (children)
Information: The Himeji Castle is a Japanese National Treasure, but also a World Heritage Site since December 1993. The castle construction was completed in 1609 and since then it has never been destroyed. It is actually one of the 12 Japanese original castles that still remain nowadays. When you pass through the main gate (Otemon Gate), you access the free part of the castle with lots of cherry trees. Otherwise, you have the Hishi Gate that gets you to the paid part where you can get to the inner castle.
The castle garden that surrounds it has over 1,000 cherry trees making it a huge attraction specially during the cherry blossom. At this time, its beauty it’s at the highest level, but if you don’t like crows you should probably avoid it.
More information at the Himeji Castle Official website.
How to get there: From Himeji Sation or Kyoguchi Station, it takes around 20 minutes on foot to get to the castle, otherwise there’s a bus from the Himeji Station that can get you there in 5 minutes.
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 540-0002, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 16:30 (gate closes at 17:00). The opening hours can be extended during spring and summer.
Admission: 600 yen (adults), free for children under 15 years old
Information: The Osaka Castle is the most important landmark in Osaka. Inside you’ll have a museum that tells the history of Osaka (this can be interesting if you like history, otherwise you can skip it). There’s also an observation deck at the top, so you might want to try it for some great pictures. But the best way to enjoy a great view of the castle is in the huge park (Nishinomaru Garden) that surrounds it. And there’s also boat rides around it that allow a view from a different angle.
If you want to visit the museum there’s an entry fee of 600 yen for adults and it’s opened from 9 am to 5 pm.
More information at the Osaka Castle Official Website.
How to get there: There are 3 stations (Morinomiya Station, Osakajokoen Station and Tanimachi Yonchome Station) really close to the park that surround the castle so you can get off at any of them. Then you have to walk to the center of the park where you’ll find the castle.
Chiyoda Castle (Edo Castle)
Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (generally)
Admission: Free admission
Information: Unfortunately, the main building of the Edo’s Castle was destroyed in 1873, but you still can visit the foundations of the castle. Other defensive buildings like several watchtowers, moats, walls, bridges and gates still remain and allow to sense the atmosphere of ancient times. The grounds of the former Edo’s Castle are now the home of the Imperial Palace that you can’t visit because it is where the Imperial Family lives. Don’t miss the chance to walk in the peaceful park all around the area and reserve some time because the place is huge.
How to get there: If you go through the most used gate (Otemon Gate), you can get there in 5 minutes from Otemachi Station, 10 minutes from Nijubashi-mae Station or 15 minutes from Tokyo Station. From Takebashi Station, you can get to the other 2 gates (Hirakawamon Gate and Kita-hanebashimon Gate) in 5 minutes.
Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0873, Japan
Opening hours: 8:30 to 16:30 (gate closes at 17:00), 8:00 to 17:30 (gate closes at 18:00) during Golden Week in May and during August.
Admission: 610 yen (adults), 300 yen (Elementary and Junior High students)
Information: Matsumoto castle is one of the biggest castles in Japan. From the outside you can see its five-story building, but it is actually a six-story castle on the inside. It is also one of the most beautiful castles with its contrast of black and white colors. The castle has vermilion bridges that stand out near its dark color. The castle grounds are home of several seasonal events like cherry blossom viewing in Spring, Japanese taiko drumming in Summer, soba noodle event in Autumn and ice sculpture festival in Winter.
More information at Matsumoto Official Website.
How to get there: From Matsumoto Station, you just have to walk for 15 minutes to get to the castle or you can pick the colorful bus that will take you there in about 5 minutes.
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Chuo Ward, Kumamoto, 860-0002, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (during the reconstruction, it will only open on Sundays and national holidays)
Admission: 500 yen (High School Students and Adults), 200 yen (Elementary/Junior High School Students), free for children under 6.
Information: Kumamoto castle is located in the center of Kumamoto. It has been closed to the public for 3 years since the 2016 earthquake. Even if it is still in reconstruction by the time I wrote these lines, it is progressively opening to the public since May 5th 2019. Japanese believe that the restoration will take about 20 years to build it just like before, so make sure you visit the official website before planing your visit to know which areas of the castle will be opened.
More information at Kumamoto Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From Kumamoto Station, you can take a tram ride and get to the castle in 15 minutes or you can walk for 30 to 45 minutes and enjoy the view.
Address: 1 Chome-1182 Jonai, Shimabara, Nagasaki 855-0036, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:30
Admission: 550 yen (adults), 280 yen (children)
Information: This is another amazing castle in Japan that is worth the visit. Like many castles it is surrounded by a pond, but this one is filled with lotus. Not only this castle is great for sightseeing, but you can also have a ninja or samurai experience by putting on some outfits available for free for adults and children.
More information at the Shimabara Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From the Shimabara Station, you can get to the castle by walking for 10 minutes.
Address: 21-1 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0011, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (December to February, 9:00 to 18:00 (March to November).
Admission: 370 yen (adults), 180 yen (high school students or seniors), free for children.
Information: This castle is not the original one, but a replica based on the original that has collapsed after the bombing. Unlike most Japanese castles, this one was built in flat plains making it different from the others you might see. An interesting fact about the Hiroshima castle is that it has 3 trees that survived the bombing.
More information at the Official Website.
How to get there: The castle is not far from Kamiyacho-nishi or Kamiyacho-higashi tram stop (10 minutes on foot).
Address: 2 Chome-3-1 Marunouchi, Kita Ward, Okayama, 700-0823, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:30
Admission: 320 yen (adults), 130 yen (children between 6 and 14).
Information: The Okayama castle is also known as the Crow Castle because of its dark color. Other than the incredible view and gardens, you can also have a unique experience of dressing like a princess or a lord inside the castle.
More information at the Okayama Castle Website.
How to get there: From the Okayama Station, take the tram to Shiroshita Station and then walk for 5 minutes to get to the castle.
Address: 1-5 Tonomachi, Matsue, Shimane 690-0887, Japan
Opening hours: 8:30 to 18:30 (April to September), 8:30 to 17:00 (October to March)
Admission: 340 yen (adults), 140 yen (children)
Information: The Matsue Castle is one of the 5 castles that are classed as a National Treasure. It is the only original castle in the region that is still intact. If you want to explore a part of the samurai history, this is the place you need because inside this wooden castle you will be able to see samurai armor and weaponry. Don’t miss the opportunity of getting to the top floor and enjoy an incredible 360-degree view over the town.
More information at the Matsue Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From Matsue Station, you have to walk for 25 minutes to get to the castle.
Address: 1-1 Konkicho, Hikone, Shiga 522-0061, Japan
Opening hours: 8:30 to 17:00
Admission: 800 yen (adults), 200 yen (children)
Information: The Hikone castle is one of the best preserved castles in Japan and it is listed as a National Treasure. Visiting the castle during spring can be particularly beautiful because of all the cherry blossom trees around the castle.
More information at Hikone City Official Website.
How to get there: From Hikone Station, you can walk for 15 minutes to get to the castle.
Address: 1-1 Marunouchi, Kanazawa, Ishikawa 920-0937, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 16:30
Admission: 320 yen (adults), 100 yen (children from 6 to 17)
Information: The Kanazawa Castle was designated National Historical
Site since 2008. It is a breathtaking castle that can also be viewed at night. There’s an illumination of the park, walls and castle from sunset to 21:00 on Fridays, Saturdays and even the days before a National Holiday. The late entry is completely free if you want to view this illumination event.
More info at the Kanazawa Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From the Okanazawa Station, you can pick a taxi and it’s just a 10-minute ride. The bus is also available at this station, but it takes slightly longer due to the stops.
Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori 036-8356, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Admission: 320 yen (adults), 100 yen (children)
Information: This is another beautiful castle in Japan that you must see. The castle stone wall is currently under renovation until at least 2023, so the castle has been moved 70 meters away from its original location. While visiting the castle, take some time to see the 2,600 cherry blossom trees, specially during the Sakura Festival because this is one of the best spots. The castle is also extremely beautiful during the Snow Lantern Festival too.
More information at the Hirosaki Park Official Website.
How to get there: From Hirosaki Station, you can walk for 25 minutes to get to the castle or take the bus (15 minutes).
Address: 1 Marunouchi, Matsuyama, Ehime 790-0008, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (generally), 9:00 to 16:30 (December and January), 9:00 to 17:30 (August)
Admission: 520 yen (adults), 160 yen (children)
Information: Matsuyama castle is one of the 12 original castles in Japan, and it’s located at the top of Mt. Katsuyama. From the castle, you will have an incredible panoramic view over the entire city. At the base of Mt. Katsuyama, the Shiroyama Park offers great views of the castle.
More information at Matsuyama Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From Matsuyama JR Station, take the tram to Okaido Station and then walk for 5 minutes to get to the castle.
Address: Kitakoken-65-2 Inuyama, Aichi 484-0082, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00
Admission: 550 yen (adults), 110 yen (children)
Information: Inuyama castle is also one of the 12 original Japanese castles and it’s the oldest castle in Japan that has resisted natural disasters and wars. It is, therefore, considered as a National Treasure. The castle is particularly breathtaking during spring and autumn thanks to the pink color of cherry blossoms or the red, orange and yellow colors of maple trees.
More information at the Inuyama Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From Nagoya Station, head to Inuyama Station or Inuyama-yuen Station and then walk for 20 minutes to get to the castle.
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Naka Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 460-0031, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 16:00
Admission: 500 yen (adults), free for children
Information: The Nagoya castle is one of the most prestigious castles of Japan and it was designated a National Historic Site. At the present moment, you can visit the Hommaru Palace that was destroyed in 1945, but is now fully reconstructed and opened to the public in 2018. The southwest watchtower is also open to the public, while the other watchtowers are usually closed. The main tower keep was also destroyed in 1945 and rebuilt, but is currently closed due to some concerns regarding earthquakes resistance. That’s why the city is planning to restore the tower keeps.
More information at the Nagoya Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From Nagoya Station, walk for 25 minutes to get to the castle. If you want to walk less, you have to pick the Sakuradori Line or the Higashiyama Line and then transfer to the Meijo Line until you get to Shiyakusho Station that is next to the castle.
Address: 541 Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8301, Japan
Opening hours: 8:45 to 17:00 (most of the time), 8:00 to 18:00 (July and August), 8:00 to 17:00 (September)
Admission: 620 yen (adults), free for children
Information: The Nijo castle has an historical importance and it is probably one of the most prestigious castles in Japan. It is decorated in an overly luxurious way that you’ll easily see once you approach it. This castle has several defensive buildings, but it was never attacked.
More information at the Nijo Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From the Kyoto Station, you have to go to Karasuma-Oike Station using the Karasuma Line, and then take the Tozai Line and drop off at Nijojo-mae Station.
Address: 1 Chome-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha, Okinawa 903-0815, Japan
Opening hours: 8:30 to 19:00 (April to June and October to November), 8:30 to 20:00 (July to September), 8:30 to 18:00 (December to March)
Admission: 830 yen (adults), 630 yen (High school students), 310 yen (Elementary students), free for children under 6.
Information: The Shuri Castle was designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This red castle is quite amazing and outstandingly different from the other castles you see in Japan. The red tiles are common in Okinawa, but not in the rest of Japan. Like many castles in Japan, Shuri castle was also destroyed in 1945, but it was rebuilt in 1992 preserving its original style. From the castle, you usually have a great view over the city of Naha because the castle is located in a hill. Unfortunately, the castle was recently destroyed in a fire on October 2019 and can no longer be visited.
More information at the Shurijo Castle Park Official Website.
How to get there: From Shuri Station, you can get to the castle by walking for 20 minutes or you can take the bus (5 minutes ride).
Address: Ichibancho, Marugame, Kagawa 763-0025, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 16:30
Admission: 200 yen (adults), 100 yen (children)
Information: Even if the Marugame Castle exists since 1587, the actual one was restored in 1950. This castle, located in the top of a large hill, was designated has an Important Cultural Property. You will be completely surprised by the view of the castle while you ascend to approach it. And don’t miss the opportunity to see the castle at night because the castle road is illuminated at night giving it a fantastic atmosphere.
More information at the Marugame Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From Marugame Station, just walk for 15 minutes and you’ll be at the castle. There’s also a bus stop in front of the castle if you prefer to take the bus rather than walking.
Address: 1 Chome-2-1 Marunouchi, Kochi, 780-0850, Japan
Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (in general, but can be extended at some important dates like Golden Week)
Admission: 420 yen (adults), free for everyone under 18 years old
Information: The Kochi Castle is one of the Top 100 Castles in Japan and it mixes buildings constructed between 1601-1611 and others built 100 years later. Therefore, it is the perfect place to see rare architecture and also amazing views from the top of the hill where the castle is located. Other than its massive buildings, the castle grounds are also a perfect place for cherry blossom festivals if you decide to visit during spring.
More information at the Kochi Castle Official Website.
How to get there: From JR Kocho Station, take the tram to Kochijo-mae stop and then just walk for less than 5 minutes to reach the castle.
And you finally got to the end of this list of 19 absolutely astonishing castles in Japan. There are hundreds of castles throughout Japan, but if you visit at least some on this list, you can be proud of yourself because you’ve seen some of the most beautiful. From white castles like the Himeji Castle to dark castles like Matsumoto Castle, without forgetting the unique red castle of Okinawa (Shuri Castle), Japan is full of extraordinary pieces of history that tell the story of an ancient Japan.
Feel free to comment what is your favorite castle on the list or if you would like to see a different castle mentioned here.
Disclaimer : Although I make my best to keep the post updated, information like fees and opening hours is changing all the time. Make sure you check each official website to see if there’s any recent change.