Connect with us

Hidden Wonders

[Hidden Wonders of Japan] Inuyama Castle: A National Treasure From the 16th Century

Inuyama Castle, built in the 16th century, is Japan's oldest castle. It offers an unhindered view of Kiso River and the plains of the former castle town.



Visitors look down on the castle courtyard from the top level of Inuyama Castle in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

Inuyama Castle (犬山城) is the oldest surviving castle in Japan, having been built in the "warring states period" (戦国時代) when feudal lords were jousting for control of revenue-generating land. In private ownership until 2004, it is now a National Treasure (国宝).

The top level of the castle offers a commanding view of the nearby Kiso River and the surrounding plains. Unlike later castles, which were more centrally sited and functioned as political symbols and administrative centers, the placement of Inuyama Castle clearly reflects its military function.

While wheelchair access to the base of the castle is possible, seeing the interior and reaching the top level requires climbing several sets of very steep stairs. Admission is ¥550 JPY ($4 USD) for adults.

Other points of interest include two shrines at the base of the castle as well as a street with a number of shops in Edo period style architecture. They are somewhat similar to shops in Kawagoe but smaller in scale.

Many of the Castle Town shops now house restaurants. (© JAPAN Forward by Earl Kinmonth)

Exploring a Former Castle Town

This street called the Inuyama Castle Town (犬山城下町) has a museum that houses the three-story floats used in in the Inuyama Festival (犬山祭), which takes place on the first weekend in April.

As is typical of former castle towns, numerous shrines and temples are dotted around Inuyama. Some of them are known for the autumn colors to be seen in their precincts. Others are noted for sakura and tsutsuji (azalea).

Inuyama is 25 minutes from Nagoya Station using the Meitetsu Line. The castle is within walking distance from the Meitetsu Inuyama Station but on a hot day, a taxi is preferable and costs only ¥730 JPY ($5 USD).


Author: Earl H Kinmonth

Photographs by EH Kinmonth. Find other stories about Tokyo and nearby areas by Dr Kinmonth on JAPAN Forward.

Our Partners