Japan’s 7 Most Incredible Castles

Japan has over 200 castles, called shiro (城) in Japanese. Many of these ancient, well-preserved fortresses are Japanese National Treasures and World Heritage Sites. Here are some of the must-see castles in Japan and what they’re famous for!


At one time, Japan had over 25,000 castles. This was due to the fact that during the 15th century, Japan entered a period of civil war called the “sengoku jidai” (戦国時代). Castles were built by the thousands and played an incredibly important role during that time. They are more than just beautiful – they are good protection during times of war.

Although we are now in a time of peace, today, over 200 castles are still open for visitors to explore in and around. These incredible fortresses contain elements that are beautiful remnants of history, and appreciated by millions of visitors every year. A handful of these castles have towers which stand in their original, unaltered forms, and others have been carefully and accurately recreated.

Here are the top 7 most incredible must-see castles in Japan:

1. Himeji Castle (姫路城)

Hyogo Prefecture (built 1609)

This Japanese National Treasure is Japan’s biggest and most-visited castle. Also called the White Heron Castle for its stunning white exterior, it is also Japan’s only UNESCO World Heritage Castle. It is also one of the country’s 12 “original” castles, as it was never destroyed by war or natural disaster and still stands tall in its original form today.

Official Website

2. Matsumoto Castle (松本城)

Nagano Prefecture (built 1594)

Matsumoto Castle is also known as the “Crow Castle” for its incredible black exterior. The castle is actually a hirajiro (平城), or a castle built on flat land as opposed to a hill or mountain. It is also one of Japan’s 12 original castles.

Official Website

3. Osaka Castle (大坂城)

Osaka Prefecture (built 1583)

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