4 stars castles
Those castles are really interesting, and you should attempt to visit them if you pass it their vicinity. The rating criteria are defined as following :
: castles tend to be smaller original donjon with fewer or no surrounding structures. Some may be reconstructions of historically important castles and have a number of supporting structures or a castle town.
: If you are visiting the area you should add this to your schedule.
: Non castle fans will enjoy a trip here too.
Pictures and texts are from www.jcastle.info. Reproduced with permission.
(安土城) - Shiga-ken - ruins from 1576
No building is left, but the remaining stones are attractive and give a good idea of the structure. The main donjon was 7 stories high and is thought to have been the largest multi-storied wooden building in the world at that time.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/22-Azuchi-Castle
Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
(備中松山城) - Okayama - original building from 1683
The highest castle in Japan at an altitude of 480 meters.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/23-Bitchu-Matsuyama-Castle
(福岡城) - Fukuoka-ken - ruins from 1601
The main donjon is though to have been dismantled just a couple of years after completion. A fire in the early 20th century achieved to destroy the structure, part of which were later rebuilt.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/78-Fukuoka-Castle
(福山城) - Hiroshima-ken - reconstructed in 1966
A concrete reconstruction of this castle which was one of the greatest in Japan in the Edo period. It was destroyed mostly by US air bombing.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/70-Fukuyama-Castle
(弘前城) - Aomori-ken - original building from 1611
A 3-levels donjon on spacious grounds. The original castle had 5 levels, but it was destroyed by lightening in 1627, to be rebuilt smaller in 1810.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/43-Hirosaki-Castle
(犬山城) - Aichi-ken - original building from 1637
Once the only privately owned castle in Japan, it belongs now to the Aichi prefecture. A small and nice castle close to Gifu and Nagoya.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/46-Inuyama-Castle
(角館城) - Akita-ken - original building from 1620
Kakunodate was the largest castle town in the Akita prefecture, but only ruins are remaining of the castle. Those are located on the top of Mt. Furushiroyama. Even if there is nothing left to see there, the town of Kakunodate is still worth a visit, as it offers a very nice area called the samurai district, where old samurai houses can still be visited. Another nice spot is the nearby river, where hundreds of cherry trees blossom in early spring.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/15-Kakunodate-Castle
(高知城) - Kochi-ken - original building from 1603
A large part of the castle – including the donjon – burned down in 1727, to be rebuilt 25 years later. An interesting feature of this castle is that all the structures from the original honmaru (the castle keep) remain.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/51-Kochi-Castle
(丸亀城) - Kagawa-ken - original building from 1597
Ikoma Chikamasa, the lord of the Sanuki area originally ruled from Takamatsu Castle. While there, he built and moved to Marugame Castle. This castle was decomissioned as part of the one castle per country law in 1615. It was resurrected in 1641 and rebuilt into what we see today.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/9-Marugame-Castle
(丸岡城) - Fukui-ken - original building from 1576
The castle was built by Shibata Katsutoyo in 1576. The keep was destroyed by the Fukui earthquake of 1948, but it was rebuilt using 80% of the original materials in 1955. That keep is considered as one of the oldest in Japan, along with those of Inuyama and Matsumoto castles.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/4-Maruoka-Castle
(名古屋城) - Aichi-ken - reconstructed
Nagoya-jo is famous for the 2 golden shachihoko that adorn the top of its donjon. That is why it is also known as "Kinshachi-jo." Kin means "gold" and shachi refers to the killer whale type mythical creatures that sit atop the donjon and other castle structures. This castle would probably have been the most beautiful in Japan... if it hadn't had been destroyed during the WWII.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/
(岡城) - Oita-ken - ruins from 1185
A very old castle, originally founded by Minamoto no Yoshitsune in 1185. The castle was improved and expanded in 1594, when a donjon and a palace were added. The construction was destroyed by an earthquake during the Edo Period. During the Meiji Restoration, all remaining buildings were dismantled leaving only some of the stone walls we see today.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/
(岡山城) - Okayama-ken - reconstructed in 1965
Ukita Naoie began the construction of this castle in 1573, but it was not completed until 1597 by his son Hideie. The castle is also known as "crow castle" due to its black exterior. This is another great castle that was destroyed during the WWII in 1945. The concrete building that visitors can be seen today was built in 1965. There are nice views on the castle from the Korakuen park, on the opposite shore of the river.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/72-Okayama-Castle
(大阪城) - Osaka-fu - reconstructed in 1931
Toyotomi Hideyoshi built Osaka-jo in 1583, designing the most formidable castle ever built in Japan. One large moat surrounded the whole castle, and the inner grounds contained 3 levels that had to be scaled-up to reach the donjon. Even with such impressive defenses, the castle fell to the Tokugawa forces. In 1620 Tokugawa completely renovated the castle, built a new donjon, thus making the whole structure even bigger and grander than the original. In 1665, the donjon was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. It was only rebuilt in 1931 (concrete construction).
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/61-Osaka-Castle
(大洲城) - Ehime-ken - reconstructed in 2004
The first fortifications on this site were constructed in 1331 by Utsunomiya Toyofusa. From 1585-1617 the castle was ruled by a quick succession of lords including Kobayakawa Takakage, Toda Katsutaka, Todo Takatora and Wakisaka Yasuharu. The castle you see today was modeled after the construction built at that time, as the donjon was destroyed in 1888. The reconstruction was completed in 2004, and it is worth to underline that the building was made in wood using traditional methods, instead of the concrete found in most reconstructions.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/82-Ozu-Castle
(島原城) - Nagasaki-ken - reconstructed in 1964
The Arima clan, who were Christian lords, ruled over the Southern part of the Shimabara Peninsula from Hinoe Castle and Hara Castle. The Tokugawa had originally been tolerant of Christianity but from 1614 they changed policy and expelled the missionaries. The castle was later disassembled during the Meiji Period.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/73-Shimabara-Castle
(竹田城) - Hyogo-ken - ruins
Castle built in 1441. It felt in two major steps. First was Hideyoshi's conquest of Tajima in 1577. Takeda Castle was conquered along with the Yamana. The second step came with the fall of Akamatsu Hirohide, the last lord of the castle, how committed seppuku
; the castle was then abandoned. There are no buildings left on the site of Takeda Castle today.
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/11-Takeda-Castle
(宇和島城) - Ehime-ken - original building from 1596
Todo Takatora built this castle after being granted the small fiefdom around it by Toyotomi Hiodeyoshi in 1595. The basic territory and layout of the castle did not change from that time...
link : www.jcastle.info/castle/profile/10-Uwajima-Castle