Attractions

Top Choice Castle in Himeji

Himeji-jō

Japan's most magnificent castle, Himeji-jō, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, national treasure and one of only a handful of original castles remaining (most are modern concrete reconstructions). It's nicknamed Shira…
Top Choice Castle in Hikone

Hikone Castle

Completed in 1622, this diminutive castle of the Ii family of daimyō (domain lords) is rightly considered a national treasure; much of it remains in its original state. One unusual feature is the teppōzama and yazam…
Top Choice Castle in Kumamoto

Kumamoto-jō

Dominating the skyline, Kumamoto's robust castle is one of Japan's best, built in 1601–07 by daimyō Katō Kiyomasa, whose likeness is inescapable around the castle (look for the distinctive tall pointed hat). From 16…
Top Choice Castle in Osaka

Osaka-jō

After unifying Japan in the late 16th century, General Toyotomi Hideyoshi built this castle (1583) as a display of power, using, it's said, the labour of 100,000 workers. Although the present structure is a 1931 con…
Top Choice Castle in Downtown Kyoto

Nijō-jō

The military might of Japan's great warlord generals, the Tokugawa shoguns, is amply demonstrated by the imposing stone walls and ramparts of their great castle, Nijō-jō, which dominates a large part of Northwest Ky…
Top Choice Historic Site in Nagasaki

Dejima

In 1641, the Tokugawa shogunate banished all foreigners from Japan, with one exception: Dejima, a fan-shaped, artificial island 560m in circumference (15,000 sq metres) in Nagasaki harbour. From then until the 1850s…
Top Choice Castle in Naha

Shuri-jō

This reconstructed castle was originally built in the 14th century and served as the administrative centre and royal residence of the Ryūkyū kingdom until the 19th century. Enter through the Kankai-mon (歓会門) and go …
Top Choice Castle in Matsue

Matsue-jō

Dating from 1611, picturesque Matsue-jō has a wooden interior showcasing treasures belonging to the Matsudaira clan. Known as Plover Castle for the graceful shape of its gable ornaments, Matsue-jō is one of only 12 …
Top Choice Castle in Kōchi

Kōchi-jō

Kōchi-jō is one of just a dozen castles in Japan to have survived with its original tenshu-kaku (keep) intact. The castle was originally built during the first decade of the 17th century by Yamanouchi Katsutoyo, who…
Top Choice Castle in Matsuyama

Matsuyama-jō

Perched on top of Mt Katsuyama in the centre of town, the castle dominates the city, as it has for centuries. Matsuyama-jō is one of Japan's finest surviving castles, and one of the very few with anything interestin…