Among the best attractions and favourite destinations in Japan are Japanese castles…
There are countless castles throughout Japan; ones in it’s full glory like Himeji castle （姫路城）in Hyogo or Matsumoto castle （松本城）in Nagano, etc., ones that I would call a “single tower” and ones in it’s birth glory like Takeda Jō.
If you like to see what’s Japanese castles looks like, I recommended those listed above. However, if you are already bored of the white walls, piles of stones, woods and a lot of people; bring your camera and grab your bagpack to Takeda castle!
Why Takeda Castle?
(2) It is in the middle of nowhere and it offered an uncomparable 360 degree views of the castle city (or Jōkamachi 城下町) some says it is the Machu Picchu of Japan.
***Unfortunately, I could not see the fog during my visit (the fog is usually in autumn). It makes you think that the castle is floating above the clouds. It is truly a sight to behold!
Want to see the fog but you cannot be here in autumn? Your alternative is around rainy days, fogs in Japan often comes after rains or try your luck and arrive super early before sunrise. A great way to start your morning.
Getting to Takeda Castle
If you stay around Himeji, you have to take trains around 1.5 hrs from Himeji to Takeda station and 3.5 hrs from Osaka station.
*I made a mistake not buying Onigiri (riceball) a night before, Himeji station’s convenience store opens at 7am*
I took Bantan line (JR) about 100 minutes from Himeji which is the cheaper alternative (1140 yen). Things to be considered: This JR line does not use automatic system, you need to push a button to open/close the door and pay by coins at the train’s first bogey. (don’t worry they have a smart coin changers). Also, check the train schedule! some train only comes once in an hour.
The castle ticket booth (500 yen fees) which is on the mountain, opens from 8 am – 6 pm depending on seasons. You can check it here.
You can take a bus to the castle which saves a lot of energy, however; from the look of my partner’s face, he wants a warm up. I was never a stamina tank, especially without breakfast. but Ok Here I go!
They are kind enough to put signs encouraging everyone to keep going every 100 m. (I cannot be more grateful) It takes around 30 minutes to hike 800m up to the mountain and thru the entrance gate, then another 200m up to the castle.
I took a break every 200 m… It was pretty cold (4-5 c) but once we start warming up, there is no need for a jacket! plus, it is not as cold and windy as I thought.
There were only few people who climb up the trail when I went there. However, as I was approaching the castle, I saw more Obaa-chan (grandma) and local elders coming from the bus stop.
Here we are
Still, even without fog, the view from the castle itself is beautiful enough to take your breathe away. The 360 degree mountain view of the town took me and my partner back to war time. While I was appreciating the view and nature, he was analysing geographical advantages and strategy for war. Indeed we do love the place, in a different context.
There were around 15-20 people visiting the area. Nice for photography..
Since 1440s, Takeda castle (pink) was built far away from the city because they see no neccessity of involving the lost of citizens who are the fuel of the clan (nation). As a result, when the enemy comes, they strike only the castle. And when the lord changes, people follows. peaceful as that.
There were several guides standing by the castle grounds to give you information/guide you need. One among them asked where I’m from (thailand) and told me he used to work for CP corp (a giant food conglomerate in Thailand) and he greeted me in Thai. You will never know what these Japanese grandpa had done unless you spent time talking to one.
Descending down the mountain was easy apart from my shaky knees. By the end of the trial, you can see the Hyomai shrine (mostly empty) .
Although there are not many activities and tourist attractions around Takeda castle; hiking up the mountain, seeing the well-spent energy effort for a great view of a once mighty castle was refreshing, leaving me feel contented.
Anyone’s visting the castle? or have been to the castle? let’s share your experience and thoughts about it below! ~
Camera: Sony a6000 + kit + SEL1670Z
Time: 7.00 – 12.00
Date: 18 March 2017 (Winter > Spring season)
Temperature: ~4-8 c
Budget: Train Himeji > Takeda roundtrip (2280 yen), entrance fee (500 yen)
till next trip~
PS. all orginal photos by me. except the castle in the sky photo