Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty Samurai's Blood

Hikone Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Hikone Domain

1600 - 1871

Ii Clan

180,000 Koku

Hikone Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Renkakushiki), and is located in Shiga Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Ōmi Province. It is associated with the Ii clan. Dates in use: 1603 - 1874.

Hikone's main tower is considered by many as the most graceful of the 12 original Tenshus that have survived to the present day. The completed castle of 1622 was actually a confection of nearby, disused castles and some new construction in order to reduce the amount of time & money required. Ōtsu castle provided Hikone's main tower and Nagahama & Sawaguchi castles contributed other buildings & materials.

This is such a great castle to visit, and easily accessible should you be sightseeing in Kyōto or Nagoya. Entering the grounds from the train station, you'll pass between two long turrets then an old horse stable. From here, a wooden bridge will take you to the rebuilt palace & the other buildings of the inner defensive enclosures.

Surrounding the castle still are substantial sections of moat, several rings in fact. Also, on the East side of the castle is a picturesque little stroll garden & the former lord's residence.

Google Map Views (グーグルマップ)

Best view ベストビュー
Orbit view 軌道ビュー


1603 Construction started on Hikone Castle following the death of Ii Naomasa.
1606 A second phase of castle construction was completed.
1616 A third phase of construction was started.
1622 The castle was finally finished with the completion of the palace.
1854 Repairs were made to the Tenbin Turret down to the stone foundations.
1874 The castle was decommissioned.
1952 Several buildings including the main tower were awarded National Treasure status.
1957 A three-year restoration of the main tower commenced.
1987 The palace was rebuilt. It now serves as a museum displaying items relating to the castle & the Ii clan.

Historical recognition

SiteSpecial National Historic Site
Main TowerNational Treasure
Tsuki & Tamon TurretsNational Treasure
Nishinomaru 3 story & Tsuzuki TurretsImportant Cultural Property
Ninomaru Sawaguchi Tamon TurretImportant Cultural Property
Taiko Gate & Tsuzuki TurretImportant Cultural Property
Tenbin TurretImportant Cultural Property
Horse StableImportant Cultural Property