Matsuyama Castle in Matsuyama, Shikoku, Japan
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tourists walk through the Japanese gate that call "Shurei Mon" to visit the Shuri castle
Château et Cherry blossom

Discover Japan's iconic medieval castles


Japanese castles sprang up throughout the territory beginning in the Sengoku era between 1477 and 1573. At one point, there is said to have been more than 5,000 hundred castles throughout Japan, and over 100 still stand today.

Chief among these is Himeji Castle in Osaka, which was built in 1609. It's listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of only twelve Japanese castles whose wooden dungeon dates back to the feudal era. Nicknamed the "White Heron Castle", this is the largest castle in Japan and includes remarkably well-preserved defensive systems.

If you travel around two hours east, you can also see Bitchu Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi. It was built in 1240 during an era when castles were primarily defensive fortresses. Be sure not to confuse it with the Matsuyama Castle on Shikoku Island, which lies further south.

To see more castles surrounded by natural beauty, visit the ones located on the edge of the water. These include Inuyama Castle, which overlooks the Kiso River, and Matsumoto Castle, nicknamed the "Crow Castle." Hirosaki Castle, which is surrounded by cherry trees, is also a lovely sight.

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