Visit @ Hikone Castle
1-1 Konkicho, Hikone, Shiga [Google map link]
Our car's still left at the parking lot [Google map link]
- Castle + Garden: ¥800
- Castle, Garden + Museum: ¥1200
Only a handful of castles in Japan are designated as National Treasures. Hikone Castle is one of them, alongside with four others: Himeji Castle, Inuyama Castle, Matsue Castle, and Matsumoto Castle. Uniquely, Hikone Castle has an original keep (The Tenshu 天守), making it one of the twelve Japanese Castle to have this characteristic.
There are several parts of the castle which are also designed as Important National Cultural Assets.
The Umaya 馬屋 of Hikone Castle is the only surviving model of horse stables located within the castle’s keep. The stable kept around 10 horses, for the feudal lord’s use.
From the front gate (Omotemon 表門), the Tenbin Yagura Turret 天秤櫓 is one of the first structures one would come across.
The corridor bridge splits the Turret into two symmetrical halves. Because of its resemblance to a balance scale (Tenbin 天秤), the turret is nicknamed as the Balance Scale Turret. Hikone Castle is the only castle to have a structure like this. In the past, the corridor bridge had walls on either side, with a roof, making movements within the corridor invisible from outside the castle.
Taikomon Yagura 太鼓門櫓 is the last gate one would walk through before reaching the main keep. Because there was a taiko drum that was beaten to communicate with the main castle tower, it was named as the Drum Gate Turret (Taikomon Yagura).
The West Bailey Three-story Turret (Nishinomaru Sanju Yagura 西の丸三重櫓) is located at the western side of the castle grounds, 10 meters above ground level. During springtime, this area is popular for flower viewing.
This is the route we took around the Castle. It is a 30min-1hr walk, depends on how you stroll.
Starting from the left side of the map (the southern aspect of the castle), we crossed the Otemon bridge 大手門橋, climbed up Otemon 大手山道, to reach Tenbin Yagura Turret 天秤櫓. Very quickly, we got to the castle, looped behind it, and down. It was a mild hike, probably enough to break a mild sweat.
Our stroll ended at the 黒門山道. Since our ticket provided us with access to Genkyuen gardens, off we go!