The castle at Hikone is a considered by Japan to be a national treasure. It is one of 4 castles designated as a national treasure and one of 12 original castle keeps remaining in Japan. Japan castles regularly burnt down, having the design flaw of being made of wood. Stone castles wouldn’t have survived the earthquakes here, so the Japanese shoguns kept rebuilding in wood after the previous fire had destroyed their castle! The town itself is located on the shores of Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake. We took a full tour of the lake on the train as a result of me getting on the wrong train. Two hours later we made it to the small town of Hikone. Have a look at the video from the Shinkansen:
The castle was built in 1603 and completed in 1622. It managed to survive the Meji period when the Feudal system was dismantled because the Emperor visited and decided to keep it intact. Many of the other castles were destroyed as they were symbols of the Feudal system.
The castle is very small and is perched on a large wall about 20m above the surrounding plateau. There was limited information in the castle, a couple of signs so we finished our tour quickly.
Inside the castle keep you could climb to the top, up a ladder-like stair case. Definitely not suitable for anyone with frail legs. There wasn’t much to see from the top as chicken wire covered the slit holes previously used for firing arrows.
However, it was nice to look at and there was a small garden nearby called Genkyu-en garden.
Then we left for Nagoya. This place is fine for a side visit or better still on the way to somewhere else as including the 15 minute walk from the train station you’ll only need around an hour to see it.
Posted from Hikone, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.