Inuyama castle sits calmly at the peak of a hill, staring down at the Kiso River that divides between Aichi Prefecture and Gifu prefecture. This little 4-floors high castle is a Japan National Treasure and also a favourite for many Japanese-history enthusiasts for the important reason: Inuyama castle is the oldest standing castle in Japan.
Built in the year of 1440, this castle in the Aichi prefecture was constructed by the Nobunaga family. While many other castles in Japan got destroyed in natural disasters and got rebuilt, Inuyama castle survived through several centuries and continues to stand tall on the 88-meters high hill with its original wood and stones. Interestingly, this castle was owned by the Naruse family on the condition that they would be responsible for its maintenance until the 2004, when the ownership was turned over to a foundation under the Aichi Prefecture’s Board of Education.
To travel to Inuyama castle, you can take the JR Takayama line and get off at Shin-Unuma station, or hop on the Meitetsu Railways line until Inuyama-Yuen station. Either way, there is a short 15-mins walk towards the castle to do. On the way you will be witnessing the castle’s strong and elegant presence on the mountain. Personally, I recommend using the Inuyama station just so you can cross the bridge over the magnificent Kiso River for a glorious view of the castle.
Inside the castle, it maintains the atmosphere of a real castle. Instead of turning castles into historical museums with different themes on each floor, you can enjoy Inuyama castle without all the distractions.
The hallways are not crowded up the interior with explanations and recorded-audio logs. The minimally decorated rooms give you sufficient background knowledge to understand more about the castle. The steep and narrow ladder into the 2nd floor lets you enter the castle the way it was designed to. The lack of air-conditioning allows you to enjoy the natural river-wind coming in through the wind-corridors on the higher floor. The creaking of wood as people walk around top floor adds even more to the experience. Inuyama castle is a truly example of “less is more” as it fruitfully preserves the historical atmosphere.
The jouka-machi (downtown of the castle) is a great place to shop for souvenirs as well. With many shops maintaining the traditional-Japanese theme, you can spend the rest of the day shopping and find a lot of intriguing food and gifts that well represents the beauty of this country.
For anyone interested in Japanese history, I highly-recommend making a trip to Inuyama castle when you are in the Tokai-area. Not only do you get to witness one of the last few Japanese castles that are standing on its original build, the sensation of viewing a Japanese city from a castle sitting on top of a mountain is unbeatable. Why not pay Inuyama castle a visit for a true Japanese-castle experience?
Have you visited Inuyama castle? Which castle is your personal favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Guest post written by Jackson Lee.