Japan is a popular destination for travelers owing to its natural, cultural and economic significance. In addition to this the historical structures spread over the Japanese terrain make up for sites worth visiting. The Castles in Japan made mostly out of woods and stone, and dating as far back as 14th century, provide some mesmerizing places for tourists to visit and explore.
Construction of Castles in Japan increased prominently during 15th century though many of the surviving structures date further back or to even later centuries. Employed mostly for fortification and military purposes, these castles also became home for the feudal lords of Japan from around 16th century. Many of the castles have a fascinating history, owing to warring feudal factions in Japan, or World War II. There are only a handful of original castles in Japan, most of them having suffered damage and destruction in subsequent centuries had to undergo renovations of different degrees. Nonetheless the Castles in Japan make up for a striking presence, and are some of the most popular Japanese tourist attractions. To list just a few of these structures:
Situated in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture of Japan is the Himeji Castle, one of the most popular and prominent site in Japan. The construction of the original structures of the castle dates back to 14th century (1346 AD). Situated on the Himeyama Hill, this castle built below the Himeji Mountain had its military advantages. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Though originally the castle can be dated back to 14th century, many additions have been done to this huge structure over the subsequent years, most notably by Hideyoshi Toyotomi. These expansions date back to the 17th century. The Himeji Castle today consists of a significant number of buildings, a network of 83 buildings to be precise. It is a very prominent site in Japan, as well as an example of the quintessential Japanese Castle, owing to the inclusion of classical influences of the architecture of feudal castles of Japan.
The Himeji Castle has served as a shooting destination for many movies, including one from the internationally recognized James Bond franchise. Many local legends too are associated with this castle, which is worth exploring. The Castle is locally known as White Heron Castle. This is attributed to the structure’s arresting white exterior as well as to the fact that when viewed as a whole the structure seems to represent a bird about to soar. All in all, the Himeji Castle is a place worth visiting for all architecturally, historically or culturally inclined travelers.
This castle is situated in Chuo-ku, Osaka. It dates back to 1583, when it used to be the largest among all the contemporary castle structures. The castle was built on top of a tall foundation that was laid down in stone, this insured protection of a structure whose primary purpose was for fortification and defense. 17th century witnessed the destruction of the original castle not once but twice. In 1615 the castle was burned to ground owing to man made causes namely by the forces of Tokugawa. It was rebuilt in 1620s, and was once again burned down in 1665, this time due to natural causes, as lightning stuck the castle and set it on fire. The Osaka Castle as it stands today was constructed in 1930s and has survived the ravages inflicted during the World War II.
The gardens of this castle are home to some 600 cherry trees, making it a stunning and vivid site during the cherry blossom season. The number of visitors to this castle increases exponentially during this time, but in other seasons too, Osaka Castle provides a site worth visiting.
This Castle is located in Kyoto, Japan. The Ninomaru Palace and the Honmaru Palace make up the two concentric circles, insuring stronger fortifications. The construction of these fortifications and the castle dates back to 1626. The Gardens of this castle add another attraction, as the cherry and plum trees increase its appeal. The Nijo castle also figures among UNESCO’s World Heritage List, under Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto.
Locally known as Karasu-jo or the Crow Castle, it is located in Okayama, Japan. The original construction can be traced back to 1597, though these structures suffered destruction during the World War II air bombings. The gilded roof tiles gave the castle its local name of Golden Crow Castle. The Castle is located on the banks of River Asashi and provides a remarkable presence. The feudal structures of the castle that stand today are a result of reconstructions dating back to 1966. The interiors of the castle boast of modern features, and also a display which allows visitors to get a glimpse into the fascinating history and stories associated with the Okayama Castles.
Matsumoto Castle: This Castle is dated back to the 16th century, the Sengoku Period of Japanese History. It is also included among the National Treasure of Japan, owing to the fact that it is one among very few original Japanese Castles.
Nagoya Castle: It dates back to the Edo period. It served as a military headquarters during the second World War, and was destroyed during this time too. The present structure was rebuilt in 1959, and houses an extensive museum inside the keep.
Kumamoto Castle: It is located in the Kumamoto Prefecture and dates back to 1607. It was constructed by the Kato Clan, and since then has been damaged in the course of history, particularly during the last Japanese Civil War. The present structure dates back to 1960, and is counted among Japan’s three premier castles. It is also popular among tourists.
A trip to Japan is incomplete without a visit to these Japanese Castles, because in addition to their striking architecture, these structures are also testament to the fascinating trajectory of Japanese history and culture.