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10 Amazing Japanese Castles

By Thomas - Posted on 16 January 2008

There were once about 5000 castles in Japan, but today there are only about 50 left. Here are 10 favorite Japanese castles.

Himeji Castle

photo of Himeji Castle in Japan

You may have seen this castle as a ninja training school in James Bond's You Only Live Twice. It also appeared in The Last Samurai, several Kurosawa movies, and in the TV miniseries, Shogun. Also known as the “White Heron Castle”, Himeji Castle was originally built in the 14th century, and then rebuilt in 1580.

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle, Photo of Japanese castles

Matsumoto Castle was built in the 16th century and is sometimes called Crow's Castle because of it's black color.

Maruoka Castle

Maruoka Castle in Japan, also known as Mist Castle

Also known as "Mist Castle" because of the legendary mist that obscures the castle when enemies approach. Maruoka Castle was built in 1576 and is located in Sakai, Japan.

Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle in Japan photo

Hiroshima Castle was built in the 1590s and destroyed in WWII by an atomic bomb. It has since been rebuilt and is now a museum.

Fukuyama Castle (a.k.a. Hisamatsu Castle or Iyō Castle)

Fukuyama Castle Japan, a.k.a. Hisamatsu or Iyo Castle

Originally built with a double moat in the 17th century, Fukuyama Castle was a major castle of the Edo Period. It was rebuilt after WWII and contains a history museum.

Kiyosu Castle

Kiyosu Castle photo, Japan

Built somewhere between 1394 and 1427, Kiyosu Castle is located in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It was a base of Oda Nobunaga who appeared in the Kurosawa movie Kagemusha, and as Goroda in James Clavell's Shogun.

Matsue Castle

Matsue Castle pic

Also known as the “Black Castle”, it is one of the few castles in Japan that is the original wooden form. From the outside it looks like a five-story castle, but has a hidden sixth-level. Matsue Castle was completed in 1622.

Nagoya Castle

Nagoya Castle, Japan castle pic

Built in the early 16th century, Nagoya Castle was rebuilt after being destroyed in WWII where it was also used as a POW camp.

Okayama Castle

Okayama Castle

Okayama Castle is a spectacular black castle located in Okayama Japan sometimes called "Crow Castle".

Shimabara Castle

Shimabara Castle

Shimabara Castle is a 5-story white castle located in Nagasaki Prefecture. The taxes imposed on the local farmers to build the castle were so severe that they revolted in an event called the Shimabara Rebellion. Shimabara Castle was completed in 1624.

Photos of Maruoka Castle, Matsue Castle, Okayama Castle, Kiyosu Castle and Nagoya Castle originally from Wikipedia and licensed under the GDFL.
Grouch's picture

Amazing...straight out of a kurawasa movie!

Travelwriter's picture

... for this very nice list of Japanese Castles.

tour packages's picture

Nice images and quite useful information

Thomas's picture

Mr. English Coffee Roasting co. -Japanis located under one of the ruins of the 4500 castles that was destroyed. It's still beautiful. Even if the castle isn't there anymore all of the stones, trees, and other landscape is.

Japanese words's picture

Even after several years living here in Japan, seeing these pictures and visiting some of these castles, they are still very impressive. The history behind them is even more so.

Anonymous's picture

its amazing how the castles are still standing to day.
i like the ones next to the water!!.
it jus matches.
ALSO!! they look as the same outta the movie.!!
i wonder how they built these!!
they are jus SO! pretty!!.

Anonymous's picture

ur mom roflmao

Japanese words's picture

I an still remember the first time I was able to enter a castle here in Japan. I felt like I was transported back in time.

Anonymous's picture

Are some of does fake because i went to the kumamoto castle in japan and there were two tall buildings one small and one huge and the small one was real which wasnt that great and the huge one was a replica and it was lyk a scam because they were making fake castles to make us think they made that hundreds of yeats ago?
i mean wtf

abitha's picture

feel like those are in heaven...........

CrabApple's picture

Yes, some are fake. There are only 12 original castles left in Japan, and those are:
-Himeji Castle (above)
-Matsumoto Castle (above)
-Matsuyama Castle
-Matsue Castle (above)
-Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
-Inuyama Castle
-Hikone Castle
-Kochi Castle
-Uwajima Castle
-Marugame Castle
-Hirosaki Castle
-Maruoka Castle (above)

Okayama Castle's tsukimi-yagura is the original, but the castle keep was destroyed in WWII.

Anonymous's picture

these casteles are amazing

Anonymous's picture

This is not a list of castles these are Japanese Temples...GOD!

Yam's picture

You forgot the shogunate.

Amanda:)'s picture

Wow! i have to do a history project on a japanesse Casle and theres so many:)

ok's picture

your mum to u to

Anonymous's picture

I like it !:D

mega bum bandit's picture

japan has many peoples can you name them all?

i like little children's picture

Tsuyoshi old man shabu shabu

Anonymous's picture

why is all these houses or places on rocks??!

But they are really cute wish i had a place like that!

sally min's picture

awesome facts about the japanese castles!

Mamoru Kunzite's picture

Whoa.. I want to live in a castle.It is my dream to live in a palace. I like japan. I am so going there...Peace

2012's picture

I'm the first 1 commenting in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous's picture

You should add Osaka Castle on here too (: It's another one that's appeared in many things, and is certainly a notable landmark! Quite a sight to see, too. (:

Anonymous's picture

No, these are castles. Temples, Shinto or not, are quite different in architecture and not so extravagant. They're typically one story, perhaps two if made to be extravagant, and more decorated. Castles are elaborate but a little more simple appearance-wise, but tend to be very tall (as seen here) and quite large.