With a rich history that dates back to 1617, the impressive Ōzu Castle in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture is the crowning jewel of Ōzu town. Now, it has become the first and only wooden castle in the country to welcome guests for overnight stays.
One of the few remaining timber-framed castles in all of Japan, the structure recently pivoted towards guest experiences, having been restored as it once was thanks to historical documents, photographs and wooden models, allowing guests to experience what it would have been like to stay there centuries ago. “You can experience [a part of] history itself, which makes you feel as if you were back in time,” the company said. According to the castle, only 30 one-night stays are being permitted at the moment.
Emerging during the Edo period (the era between 1603 and 1868) as a harbour town, Ōzu’s focal point is the wooden, four-storey castle. Fortresses like this were typically built in Japan as lavish homes for lords that displayed their status and looked imposing and defensive. Now guests will have a chance to live sumptuously like those lords. In addition to overnight stays, visitors will dress up as warriors upon arrival to the castle and will enjoy a celebration with shell flutes, flag-waving and gunfire. There is even accommodation set up to make guests feel as if they were a castle owner.
The property comes with a tea house complex facing one of the most scenic spots along the Hiji River, with three pavilions looking out onto a lush tea garden. Guests can also visit a shrine and a temple, and stroll through the streets of the old town to see the former houses of samurai.
“We had our first customer to stay at Ōzu Castle in July, and they loved it. They loved it because they could never experience staying at a Japanese castle before and [said] it felt very special,” a representative of the castle told Lonely Planet.
Prices start at one million yen (approximately US$9480) for one night with two people, extra guests can be added to the experience for ¥100,000 (US$947) each.
More information on staying at Ozu Castle is available at the official website.
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