How Many Do You Know? 5 Famous Kansai Castles

How Many Do You Know? 5 Famous Kansai Castles

25 Sep 2020

The KANSAI Guide

Japanese castles are the perfect tourist spots to experience the country’s culture and traditions. You’ll never tire of looking at these unique structures with their beautiful tenshukaku (castle keeps) and yagura (watch towers). In this article, we’ll introduce five carefully-selected famous castles in the Kansai region for you to enjoy!

1. Hikone Castle (Shiga Prefecture)

There are currently five castles in Japan with tenshukaku that are designated as National Treasures. One is Hikone Castle. It was completed about 400 years ago in 1622 and retains its original form to this day. Walk up the hill from the Otemon Bridge to the castle keep and climb it at the Honmaru (inner citadel) to witness the grand panorama of Lake Biwa. The best spot to take a photo of the castle keep is Nishinomaru, located behind the keep as seen from the top of the hill. The view from the Genkyuen Garden in the northeast of the castle is also amazing.

【Facility Name】 Hikone Castle
【Opening Hours】 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
【Days Closed】 Open every day
【Price】 Adults: 800 JPY, Elementary and Junior High School Students: 200 JPY
【URL】
Official Homepage
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 1-1 Konki-cho, Hikone-shi, Shiga
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

2. Nijo Castle (Kyoto)

Nijo Castle was built in 1603 as the residence of the shogun (military dictator). The structure’s Ninomaru-goten Palace, Ninomaru Garden, and Karamon Gate remain as they were 400 years ago. As such, the castle was registered as a World Heritage Site, part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, in 1994. When visiting Nijo Castle, be sure to not miss the Ninomaru-goten Palace, a designated National Treasure. The gorgeous Japanese-style paintings decorating the walls and fusuma screens inside the castle are breathtakingly beautiful and also worthy of mention. The castle offers guided tours in English, so visit it if you ever get the chance.

【Facility Name】 Nijo Castle
【Opening Hours】 8:45 am - 4:00 pm (closes at 5:00 pm)
8:00 am - 5:00 pm in July and August (castle closes at 6:00 pm)
Opens at 8:00 am in September
【Days Closed】 December 29 - 31 (Ninomaru-goten Palace: Every Tuesday in December, January, July and August, January 1 -3, December 26 - 28, Day after a national holiday)
【Price】 Adults: 1,030 JPY, Junior High and High School Students: 350 JPY, Elementary School Students: 200 JPY
【URL】
Official Homepage
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 541 Nijojo-cho, Horikawa Nishi-iru, Nijo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

3. Osaka Castle (Osaka)

Osaka Castle is known as the residence of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a famous warrior who unified the country. The current castle keep was rebuilt about 90 years ago, but this majestic structure is still considered a symbol of Osaka. The interior of the keep houses a history museum with an observation deck on the top floor, offering fantastic views of the city of Osaka from 50m above ground! The castle is surrounded by Osaka Castle Park, where visitors can enjoy good food and shopping at the Jo-Terrace Osaka shopping mall or the Miraiza Osaka-jo multi-purpose complex.

【Facility Name】 Osaka Castle Tenshukaku
【Opening Hours】 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Last entry 4:30 pm)
【Days Closed】 December 28 - January 1
【Price】 Adults: 600 JPY, Junior High School Students and Younger: Free
【URL】
Official Homepage
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

4. Himeji Castle (Hyogo)

Himeji Castle is at the top of Japan’s most iconic castles. It has been designated a National Treasure for its beauty and historical value, and is Japan's first registered World Heritage Site. Its magnificent appearance with a large 6-story, 5-level, 30m-high castle keep surrounded by three smaller keeps has been likened to a white heron about to take flight. If you want to see all of the vast castle, give yourself about two hours. The best place to take a photo of the central castle keep is Nishinomaru Plaza.

【Facility Name】 Himeji Castle
【Opening Hours】 9:00 am - 4:00 pm (Gates close at 5:00 pm, open to 5:00 pm between April 24 and August 31 with gates closing at 6:00 pm)
【Days Closed】 December 29 - 30
【Price】 Adults: 1,000 JPY, Elementary, Junior High, and High School Students: 300 JPY
【URL】
Official Homepage
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 68 Hon-machi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

5. Wakayama Castle (Wakayama)

Wakayama Castle sits at the top of a hill in the center of Wakayama City. It was built about 400 years ago, but the castle keep was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt in 1958. It is distinguished by a structural style called "renritsushiki" with the large and small castle keeps as well as the yagura all connected to each other. When visiting the castle, be sure to stop by at the Koshoan tea room where you can enjoy traditional Japanese matcha green tea and Japanese sweets (470 JPY) in an authentic, relaxing atmosphere.

【Facility Name】 Wakayama Castle
【Opening Hours】 9:00 am - 5:30 pm (Last entry 5:00 pm)
【Days Closed】 December 29 - 31
【Price】 Adults: 410 JPY, Elementary and Junior High Students: 200 JPY
【URL】
Official Homepage (Japanese only)
KANSAI Tourism Bureau Homepage
【Address】 3 Ichiban-cho, Wakayama-shi, Wakayama
【Google Map URL】 GoogleMap

These were the Kansai region’s five can’t-miss famous castles, but there are many more of them. Why not take a trip through history and visit various Kansai castles by the ocean, atop of mountains, or standing in the middle of cities?

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