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Sunrise at Ritsuun-Kyo Valley

Watching the beautiful Takeda Castle float in the sky

Takeda Castle is also known as Japan’s Machu Picchu. Its more than 600 years of history, the beautiful mountains surrounding it, and its ruins can make you understand why its called this way. The fort, which is part of Japan’s top 100 castles, is also known as the castle floating in the sky. To understand this name, you must wake up early and see sunrise just in front of the castle.

During autumn (mostly from September to November) Takeda Castle floats in a sea of clouds. The sunrise is already beautiful at the viewpoint. The trees of the surrounding mountains begin to change the color of its leaves from green to red. The rising sun slowly shows the magic of the scenery, while the clouds gently sparse to introduce you to the nature. As amazing and beautiful as it sounds, once you add a castle barely showing itself above the fog, the view becomes a surreal experience.

The best viewpoint to observe this is at Ritsuun-Kyo Valley, just in front of Takeda Castle. It takes approximately forty minutes walking from Takeda train station to get to the top. Given that sunrise in autumn is at around 6:10 am, it’s recommended to stay the previous night close to the viewpoint. Unfortunately, there are very limited accommodations in Asago, the town where Takeda Castle is. However, there are a few more hotels in the next town, Wadayama. The best option to go from Wadayama to Asago early morning is to take the first train which departs at 5:17 am. It’s only a ten minute ride and it costs ¥190. The other option in case you don’t want to walk up to the viewpoint is to take a taxi. Just ask your hotel to book one.

Make sure to take a warm jacket, a blanket, and some snacks with you. It can get really cold and the ground can be very damp. You cannot buy any food in the valley and the fog can stay for a very long time before it finally unveils the castle. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight with you. Before sunrise, is really dark and there are a lot of steps.

Access to the viewpoint is completely free. Actually, the valley is opened twenty-four hours. As tempting as it might sound, unfortunately no camping is allowed.

To see the castle rise above the clouds is a matter of luck. Some days (usually the colder ones) the Japanese Machu Picchu will gift its public with the dreamlike view. However, some other days, it will only show itself without floating in the middle of the fog.

The day I went, unfortunately it was one of the days that the castle didn’t “float.” However, just watching sunrise and seeing it from a distance was a memorable experience.

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Find out more about Takeda Castle.

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Bonson Lam 7 years ago
Great to see you made the hike to see sunrise over Japan's Machu Picchu.
José Manuel Zardain Author 7 years ago
So beautiful! Even though I didn't see it "floating" it was simply great seeing it from far away surrounded by the amazing nature with the sun rising! Great experience!

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