Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

Japanese Castles 1540-1640 Castles of the Samurai: Power and Beauty

Inuyama Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady


Inuyama Domain

1600 - 1607

Ogasawara Clan

10,000 Koku

1607 - 1616

Hiraiwa Clan

123,000 Koku

1616 - 1868

Naruse Clan

30,000 Koku

Inuyama Castle is classified as a hilltop castle, and is located in Aichi Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Owari Province. It is associated with the Oda, Naruse clans. Dates in use: 1469 - 1871.

Perched rather picturesquely upon a hill sits what was once thought to be Japan's oldest Tenshu. A full restoration in the 1960's breathed new life into the old structure but also managed to disprove that the main tower had been transferred here (from Kaneyama castle) many centuries earlier. Had the main tower been carted in, it would have been a prime contender for the Japan's oldest Tenshu crown. The three story tower looks to be rather small but, inside there are actually six levels, two of which are within the stone foundations of the main tower.

Ownership of this castle was transferred to the Emperor during the Meiji restoration. Uniquely, this castle was returned to its former lord's family where it remained in private possession until 2004. The castle is a favourite of many, but aside from the genuinely old main tower, there is little else of interest unless you're will to go hunting for the former castle gates that were relocated to temples in the area.


1469 Oda Hirochika constructed the castle (at a nearby site?).
1537 Oda Nobuyasu became lord of the castle. At that time, the central tower was just two stories tall.
1544 Nobuyasu died in battle atop Mt. Inabayama (the location of Gifu Castle.) Oda Nobukiyo became lord of the castle.
1547 Ikeda Tsuneoki became lord of the castle.
1600 The Ogasawara clan were transferred here.
1607 The Hiraiwa clan were transferred here.
1611 For the following six years, the castle was without a lord.
1617 The Naruse clan were transferred here. The castle underwent its final expansion, and thus attained its final form.
1871 The castle was decommissioned. All buildings were removed except for the main tower.
1891 The South-East attached turret of the main tower was damaged in an earthquake.
1935 The main tower was designated Nation Treasure status and again in 1952 following amendments to the criteria.
1965 During a complete restoration of the castle, the main tower was dismantled & no evidence could be found to support the theory that the main tower had been transferred from Kanayama as had been previously believed.
2004 The Naruse family relinquished possession of the castle.

Historical recognition

Main TowerNational Treasure