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Hikone Castle in Shiga

An original castle tower

Located in Hikone City, Shiga Prefecture, Hikone Castle is very famous for its extant castle tower. Similar to Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture and Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture, Hikone Castle is registered as a National Treasure.

The castle of the Ii family for fourteen generations, Hikone Castle was built by the son of the chief minister Naomasa. It's castle tower has the appearance of being well-dignified and while its frontage is quite well-balanced, its sides are more elongated in structure. The shape for the Japanese hiragana character 'へ' is visible as the first level the castle's gabled roofing, a strong characteristic of the design style known as 'Kirizuma.'

The face of the castle is very photogenic and a popular spot among visitors who often have their photos taken here with the local cat character, Hikonyan.

The castle features a wooden corridor bridge known as the rouka-bashi that crosses over from the kane no maru compound to the tenbin yagura tower gate. The bridge was designed to collapse in the event of an attack to prevent the enemy from crossing over. The tower gate is quite impressive and was designated as a National Important Cultural Property.

Along with the interesting castle tricks, visitors will also find a traditional daimyo feudal lord Japanese garden known as Genkyuen Garde. The castle is visible from the garden whose landscape and design is quite tasteful and pleasant. Like many castle grounds, visitors can enjoy the garden's beautiful cherry blossoms during the spring season. The view of the castle with the cherry blossoms is a lovely memory to return home with.

Note that Hikone Castle (including Genkyuen Garden) is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please refer to the official website for more information on re-opening times.

Hikone Castle is a 15-minute walk from JR Hikone Station.