Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

       
Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty The Baur Collection: Japanese Sword-Fittings and Associated Metalwork

Welcome

It was August 23rd, 2001, when I first visited a Japanese castle. It was like nothing I'd ever seen.


But, I very much liked what I saw. In the 14 years since then, I have travelled to all but the northern regions of Japan to explore these fascinating, historical sites. This website is a record of my visits and of my passion for Japan's castles.

Interactive Map - Clicky Fun!

A map of Japan

Whether you are looking for castles in a particular region, or hoping to find something new, this handy interactive map is a fun way to explore Japan's castles. And, you guessed it, this is where the site got its name.

150 castles can be found on the map, from Okinawa in the Southwest to Hokkaido in the very North. The best examples tend to be found in Central and West Japan.

Castles with donjons (Tenshukaku) - 天守閣のある

"Original" There are just 12 castles represented in this category. Their donjons were built prior to the end of the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). Seek them out on the map by clicking on the red icons. (List)
 
"Reconstructed" Castles that have had their donjons rebuilt in modern times can be found in this category. Note: Many are concrete reconstructions. The vast majority of them have retained their authentic, extrenal appearance. (List)

Castles without donjons (Tenshukaku) - 天守閣のない

"Buildings" Though lacking a main/central tower, castles in this category possess at least one gate or turret. In many of these cases, these structures were built/rebuilt prior to the end of the Edo Period (1603 - 1868). (List)
 
"Ruins" Likely, many would be disappointed to arrive at a castle to see no buildings. What numerous castles still possess though are their impressive stone foundations. There really really are some beauties out there. Also, there are castle with nothing but a simple signpost. They do suck. (List)
 

Castle Lists

All 150 castles can be found in this alphabetized list. The castles have also been categorised by their current state or condition (as explained above), or by their location (as explained in the region section below).


Click the button below to start exploring.

 

Regions - From Top to Bottom

Hokkaidō - Very few castles can be found in Japan's Northern-most island. There is the very impressive Bastion-style castle of Goryōkaku Fort though.
Tōhoku - sizeable Northern tip of Japan's main island. Interestingly, castles in this region were constructed of earhten defenses instead of stone.
Kantō - Though many castles once existed in the area surrounding Tōkyo none were as impressive as the Imperial houshold. It's been known by many names but I call it Edo Castle.
Chūbu - Central Japan is a region flush with the former strongholds of Japan's most famous Samurai. That aside, there is the Matsumoto Castle which is real pretty.
Kansai - The region surrounding Ōsaka & Kyōto has countless fascinating and unique castles. Ōsaka Castle with its powerful stonework is of special note.
Chūgoku - There remain many impressive castles in the Western tip of Japan's main island. Many were built to keep enemies of the Tokugawa Shōgunate in check.
Shikoku - The highest concentration of castles to have retained an Edo Period (1603 - 1868) central tower can be found in the island of Shikoku.
Kyūshū - My home turf! I for one, really enjoy the castles of the island of Kyūshū. The highlight of which would undoubtedly be Kumamoto Castle.
Okinawa - The castles of the islands of the Okinawan archipelago are known in the local dialect as Gusuku. Castles in other areas of Japan are generally refered to as .
Korea - Yes, Japanese Castles in Korea. These were established during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's ambitious quest to conquer China.