Japanese Language Blog

Top Five Japanese Castles Posted by on Aug 13, 2010 in Culture

If I could give a description of Japan, one of the things I would say is, “Japan is the land of castles”.


One such example is Himeji jō (姫路城,) or Himeji Castle. The castle is located in Hyōgo Prefecture (兵庫県,) and is one of the largest castles in Japan. At the center of the castle complex is a moat surrounded by water. The castle is six floors high, if you include the basement.

Hikone jō (彦根城,) or Hikone Castle is located in Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県,) and is one of the best preserved castles. The castle has retained much of its original structure, with very little retouching. The castle was originally scheduled to be demolished, but a personal request from an emperor has allowed us to view the castle today.


Inuyama jō (犬山城) or Inuyama Castle is located in Aichi Prefecture (愛知県) is claimed to be one of the oldest surviving castles in Japan. It was built in 1440, but more structures were added to the castle well into the 1600s. The castle was first occupied by the extended family of Oda Nobunaga (織田信長).


Matsumoto jō (松本城,) or Matsumoto Castle is located in Nagano Prefecture (長野県) and is sometimes called the karasu jo (烏城) or the “crow castle”. The nickname comes from the fact that the castle’s exterior is black. This castle is unique because it wasn’t built atop a hill or mountain side.


Kumamoto jō (熊本城) or Kumamoto Castle, is located in Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県,). It is a heavily fortified castle with steep stone walls called musha gaeshi (武者返し). Musha gaeshi literally means “repelling warriors” and was so called because the angle of the walls made it difficult to attack the castle.

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