Top 20 most popular castles in Japan, according to TripAdvisor

By Corey Gold, RocketNews24

TripAdvisor has revealed its top 20 best Japanese castles for 2016 based on commentary from domestic travellers – can you guess which castle is number one?

The answer is…Himeji Castle, meaning last year’s number three spot has taken the gold medal this year. Situated in Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji Castle comprises of 83 buildings and is also known as the “White Heron Castle” as its bright white exterior is said to resemble a heron taking flight. Himeji Castle was one of Japan’s first UNESCO world heritage sites in 1993. Restoration work was recently carried out on the castle and it was reopened on March 27, 2015.

Here are some comments from those who visited Himeji Castle:

“No matter how many times I visit, it takes my breath away, it’s a beautiful, gorgeous castle.” “Naturally this is a national treasure, the expansiveness of white is overwhelming.”

Castle number 2: Matsumoto Castle

Maintaining second place for the second year running is Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture, which is surrounded by a large moat and stunning mountain ranges. In contrast to Himeji Castle, which is built on a hill, Matsumoto Castle was built on flat land in the late sixteenth century. Matsumoto Castle is also known as the “Crow Castle” thanks to its black color. The castle’s keep still has its original wooden interiors and outside stonework.

Here are some comments from those who visited Matsumoto Castle:

“Out of the 100 famous Japanese castles, I’ve seen about 80; this castle looks just like a postcard with its mountainous backdrop.” “You can see the castle’s reflection in the moat water, giving you a different perspective other than looking just at the castle.”

Castle number 3: Kumamoto Castle

Last year’s number one has come in at number three this year: Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu. Kumamoto Castle is another hilltop castle, originally built in 1467 and reconstructed in 1960. This castle unfortunately suffered moderate damage from the large Kumamoto earthquake earlier this year.

Here is what one person said about their visit to Kumamoto Castle:

“I’ve been to many castles, but there are very few that are better than this.”

Castle number 4: Inuyama Castle

Rising two spots from last year into number four is Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture. Inuyama Castle is also perched on top of a hill and overlooks Kiso River, which serves as the border between Aichi and Gifu prefectures. Inuyama Castle is one of only 12 surviving castles that were built before the Edo period. Inuyama literally means “dog mountain”, which made the castle’s choice of mascot that little bit easier.

Here are some comments from those who visited Inuyama Castle:

“Compared to other castles, this hasn’t been modernized; it’s a small but nice castle.” “I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is also different for different countries, but this is a beautiful castle that gives the feeling of simplicity and security.”

Castle number 5: Nijo Castle

Rounding off the top 5 is Nijo Castle in Kyoto. Nijo Castle is on a huge block of flat land spanning 275,000 square meters. This castle is one of the seventeen “historic monuments of ancient Kyoto” chosen by UNESCO as a heritage site. Nijo Castle was constructed upon the orders of shogunate Tokugawa Ieyasu and completed in 1626.

Here are some comments from those who visited Nijo Castle:

“This castle influenced history.” “The interior is amazing, I could feel that this castle had a different purpose to all of the other castles I’ve seen.”

The top 20 list of the best castles in Japan according to TripAdvisor is presented below:

  1. Himeji Castle (Hyogo)
  2. Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)
  3. Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto)
  4. Inuyama Castle (Aichi)
  5. Nijo Castle (Kyoto)
  6. Matsuyama Castle (Ehime)
  7. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle (Okayama)
  8. Matsue Castle (Shimane)
  9. Hikone Castle (Shiga)
  10. Nakagusuku Castle Ruins (Okinawa)
  11. Katsuren Castle Ruins (Okinawa)
  12. Takeda Castle Ruins (Hyogo)
  13. Nakijin Castle Remains (Okinawa)
  14. Shuri Castle (Okinawa)
  15. Kochi Castle (Kochi)
  16. Azuchi Castle Ruins (Shiga)
  17. Osaka Castle (Osaka)
  18. Zakimi Castle Ruins (Okinawa)
  19. Maruoka Castle (Fukui)
  20. Tsuruga Castle (Fukushima)

I was surprised that five out of the top 20 are located in Okinawa, which makes it a bit more enticing as a next holiday destination.

Sources: NariNari,, Wikipedia

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Brilliant Art Aquarium takes over Nijo Castle in Kyoto for a spellbinding nocturnal event -- Nightingale floors: The samurai intruder alarm system Japan’s had for centuries -- How to escape from a burning castle: evacuation drill reveals thrilling slide system

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can you guess which castle is number one? The answer is…Himeji Castle

Sorry to burst your bubble but this list is wrong. Can anyone guess which castle is actually number one? The answer is ... Cinderella's Castle in Tokyo Disneyland with over 17 million visitors every year.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

I've heard good things about Takeda caste, but from what I've heard you need to get there very very early in the morning. I'd love to see Matsumoto castle in the winter.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"... five out of the top 20 are located in Okinawa... " Indeed, a very interesting point by author Corey Gold. Tour Operators should add a free Tokyo-Naha-Tokyo or Osaka-Naha-Osaka air flight (+ hotels 2 nights 3 days) plan option to foreign tourists visiting Japan. To visit cultural sites and splendid islands.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hogwarts at Universal Studios Osaka.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I was surprised that five out of the top 20 are located in Okinawa, which makes it a bit more enticing as a next holiday destination.


Nakijin Castle Remains

More commonly known and accepted as the Nakajin Castle Ruins.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Kumamoto Castle did not suffer "moderate damage" - it was major. The donjon roof remains unrepaired as it has been judged unsafe to enter. Most areas are still off-limits. Reconstructing the walls is estimated to take 20 years. The castle has suffered its second-worst damage in its history after the Seinan War.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Been to nine of the listed places above. I like seeing the intact castles themselves ... not the remains. I've been to various places not listed above and have seen what is considered "remains of castles," and although I enjoyed my visit to these old castle towns, the "remains" did not really turn me on.

As for No. 1 on my list ... too many ... I have visited many nice castles and rate them all highly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Osaka Castle is terrible. It's more like a back lot in a film studio than a proper castle. I don't think ruins count.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Remains not my thing either although have been to most of the non-remains. Bitchu Matsuyama castle is next on my list to visit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Osaka castle is on too high position on this list. It has smart outward appearance, but after it is not a preserved castle, only a replica, not a very good one (concrete instead of wood). It has a very nice souvenir shop though, with a lot of stuff on the subject of samurai and the Sengoku jidai.

If recreated castles are included in this list I'd recommend Kanazawa castle at the Ishikawa prefecture. It was restored according to old plans of the castle, with wood. And near the castle there is one of the finest Japanese gardens (Kenrokuen).

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Go Kumamoto !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How do you compare the ruins of a castle to one that has been completely or partially rebuilt?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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