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Visiting castles of Hyogo

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Hyogo prefecture was once divided into the five provinces of Settsu, Harima, Tajima, Tamba, and Awaji, and in each former province, there are castles that are landmarks that remain from that time. The region has 21 castle ruins that have been designated by the government as historic landmarks, more than anywhere else in Japan. In addition to the Unesco World Heritage Site and National Treasure Himeji Castle, the castles of Akashi, Ako, Tatsuno, Takeda, Sasayama, and Sumoto are exemplary castles of Hyogo prefecture. Going for a walk in the elegant and historic streets of the castle towns is a great way to experience the sites.

Castle of Hyogo

Hyogo prefecture is said to have over 1000 castles, and it certainly does have a great many. It also has many of Japan's most famous castles. You can see many different types of castles in Hyogo, some on top of mountains and some in the middle of towns.

Way of enjoying castles

The castles of Japan are built especially well, even among the many other structures built with Japanese architecture. By looking at the castles from other directions, and not just from the front, you will begin to understand their structure. Generally, castles are built in beautiful locations with features like cherry blossoms or trees with colorful autumn leaves. Try looking at different castles during each season of the year.

Harima

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is registered as a Unesco World Heritage Site. This particular castle is especially exemplary even among the many other castles of Japan. Its beautiful white walls have earned it the nickname of "White Heron Castle". And with the repairs on its wooden structures being completed in March 2015, it has taken on an even more beautiful form. The castle tower provides an unobstructed view of Himeji. A guided tour is available for foreigners free of charge.

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Harima

Akashi Castle Ruins

Akashi Castle is the centerpiece of Akashi Park. This castle is distinctive for its two beautiful watchtowers. At the entrance, there is a robotic rendition of a samurai. The robot drums to announce the time. Famed for the beauty of its cherry trees in the spring, the park is abundantly planted with shrubs and trees. Go for a stroll around the grounds and admire the natural beauty.

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Harima

Tatsuno Castle

The stone walls are currently the only original remnants of Tatsuno Castle. The white walls and gate have been recreated. Nearby, there are buildings that were once the residence of samurai as well as a temple. The traditional Japanese townscape also remains. I highly recommend taking a walk around the Tatsuno Castle's castle town. It is a famous place to view cherry blossoms in the spring. The west side of the area has around 3000 cherry blossom trees.

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Tajima

Takeda Castle Ruins

Takeda Castle is a castle built on a mountain 354m above sea level. Atop the mountain is a massive stone wall. The structure strongly resembles the shape of a sleeping tiger. In clear-skied autumn mornings, a fog sometimes covers the area making it look like the stone walls are floating in the clouds. This phenomenon has made some also refer to the castle as the "Castle in the Sky".

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Tamba

Sasayama Castle Ruins

The large-scale stone wall remains from the original structure of Sasayama Castle. The stones that make up the wall are stacked very high, and make for an impressive sight. A traditional Japanese building called O-syoin also remains. The building houses a museum. In spring, about 1000 cherry blossoms bloom along the moat of Sasayama castle. When the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the area is lit up at night. I recommend that you go for a walk around the castle town.

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Awaji

Sumoto Castle

Sumoto Castle is located atop a mountain. The highly stacked stone wall on the southern side is very impressive. The stone wall exists exactly as it was when it was built. From the top of the mountain you can get a clear view of the Sumoto townscape and the ocean. I really want you to see the scenery. The area around the castle is also famous for its cherry blossoms. At night the castle is beautifully illuminated.

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