Japan is a country long steeped in history and tradition. One of the best ways to experience this is by visiting its many castles, especially the ones that have withstood the tests of time. One such castle that stands out is Inuyama Castle, located in Aichi Prefecture. It is one of only 12 remaining original castles (another is Matsumoto Castle) and is a must-see for anyone interested in Japanese history and architecture.
Inuyama Castle was built in 1537 by Oda Nobuyasu, the uncle of the famous warlord Oda Nobunaga. Several different lords owned the castle, including the Naruse family, who owned it for over 250 years.
During the Meiji Restoration (when the people overthrew the Shogunate and the feudal way-of-life), most castles were torn down. This was to symbolise a new era and a return to power of the imperial family. Entire castles quickly ceased to exist and Inuyama almost had the same fate. However, the donjon (the innermost part) was not destroyed. At this time, there were only 40 castles left. However, after World War 2 and the air raids, only 12 remained.
In the early 1900s, the city of Inuyama purchased the castle; the Japanese government designated it as a National Treasure in 1952. It received extensive repair work due to damage sustained over time and from earthquakes.
Inuyama Castle is one of the oldest surviving castles in Japan, and it is a testament to the skill and ingenuity of the castle builders of the time. The castle sits on top of a hill overlooking the Kiso River, providing a clear view of the surrounding area and a defensible position in times of war. The castle’s surrounding garden changes with the seasons and is an excellent place to relax and take in the beauty of the castle and its surroundings.
One of the unique features of Inuyama Castle is its interior, which has been preserved with its original furnishings and decorations. Visitors can see the tatami mat rooms, the intricate woodwork, and the castle’s many treasures, including armour, weapons, and paintings.
What sets Inuyama Castle apart from other Japanese castles is its unique architecture. Unlike many other castles built during the same period, Inuyama Castle has a more traditional Japanese design, with a wooden exterior and a steeply sloping roof. The castle’s interior is also unique, with a complex system of stairs, corridors, and hidden rooms.
Another unique feature of Inuyama Castle is its location. The castle sits on top of a hill surrounded on 3 sides by rivers. Visitors must climb a steep staircase to reach the castle’s entrance. This provides a sense of adventure and excitement, and the view from the top is well worth the effort.
Visiting Inuyama Castle
Inuyama Castle is located in the city of Inuyama in Aichi Prefecture, which is approximately 360 km from Tokyo and 40 km from Nagoya. There are several ways to get to Inuyama Castle from both Tokyo and Nagoya.
- By plane: There are several flights per day from Tokyo to Nagoya, which takes approximately 1 hour. From Nagoya, take the Meitetsu Inuyama Line to Inuyama Station, which takes approximately 25 minutes. From Inuyama Station, the castle is a 15-minute walk.
- By train: Take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station, which takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. From Nagoya Station, take the Meitetsu Inuyama Line to Inuyama Station and then walk.
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