Hikone Castle

Hikone Castle is one of only five castles in Japan designated as a national treasure. The other castles include Himeji, Matsumoto, Inuyama, and Matsue.

The hilltop castle was completed in 1622 and many of the original structures remain intact. The castle represents a good example of an Edo period castle complete with a strolling garden and reconstructed palace.

The climb up the stairs to reach the castle is a bit exhausting, but offers nice views of Lake Biwa from the top.

Before reaching the castle, you cross a wooden bridge that could be easily destroyed in the event of an attack.

Cherry Blossoms

In the spring, the castle is a popular spot to see cherry blossoms. The flowers are in full bloom about a week after Kyoto.

Hikone Castle Museum

The museum is a reconstruction of the palace buildings. You can see traditional swords, lacquered armor, tatami rooms, and the clan’s family heirlooms. There are good English explanations.

Genkyuen Garden

Genkyuen Garden was built in 1677 as a space for the feudal lord to entertain guests. It is a landscape garden with a walking path. There is a central pond with four small islands connected by bridges.

There is a teahouse where you can have a matcha tea for 500 yen while enjoying the garden.

Yume Kyobashi Castle Road

Before or after visiting the castle, check out Yume Kyobashi Castle Road outside the moat. The area has been created to look like a former castle town during the Edo period. It’s a good place to eat lunch.

Try the Ohmi beef, which is from Shiga Prefecture. It’s one of the top brands of wagyu beef, alongside Kobe beef and Matsusaka beef.

How to Get There

To get to Hikone Castle, take the Shinkansen bullet train to Maibara Station. Then, transfer to a local line. It is only one stop to Hikone Station and takes about five minutes. From the station, it is about a 15 minute walk to the castle.

Admission

The castle is open from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm. Admission is 1,200 yen for a ticket to enter the castle, museum, and garden. Plan on spending at least three hours to see the sites, not including lunch.

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