Photo:Norio NAKAYAMA on Flickr

Castle Ruins in Hyogo Prefecture

Japan is one of the world’s most culturally rich countries and its history dates back to thousands of years, in an era where strong, powerful ancestors have left their imprint everywhere on the Land of the Rising Sun. Countless numbers of shrines, temples and castles have stood firm until now, withstanding numerous wars and even managed to sustain damage from nature at a bare minimum. Unfortunately, some did not make it through. Unlike the famous castles, such as Himeji Castle and Matsumoto Castle, Takeda Castle is left in ruins.

The Machu Picchu of Japan

Despite being in ruins, Takeda Castle is now one of the top 100 famous castles in Japan due to its stone walls and spectacular view. It is possible to witness a sea of clouds surrounding the castle ruins during autumn, making it appear as a castle floating in the sky. For this reason, the castle is commonly referred to as “Castle in the Sky” or “The Machu Picchu of Japan”.

The Abandonment of Takeda Castle

Takeda Castle’s history dates back all the way to 1431 when Yamana Sozen commenced the construction of the castle. The Otagaki family then took charge of the castle for the next 137 years before Kuwayama Shigeharu became the new lord of the castle. Akamatsu Hirohide then took over as the lord of Takeda Castle after Kuwayama was forced to leave the castle to take charge of Wakayama Castle. In 1600, despite defending the castle courageously during the Battle of Sekigahara, he was accused of arson and later committed suicide. Following which, the castle was abandoned.

In 1943, Takeda Castle became a protected historical monument on the list of World Heritage Sites in Japan. Ever since, restoration and maintenance projects have been carried out. It was only recently that the castle ruins became popular with both domestic and international tourists due to widespread media coverage. It is highly recommended to witness the mystical scenery of the castle ruins in Hyogo prefecture.

View of Takeda Castle from Ritsuunkyo Valley.

Magnificent View of Takeda Castle from Ritsuunkyo Valley

There are also a few observation decks atop Ritsuunkyo Valley which is opposite to the castle ruins. Getting to the valley is very tricky, even if you are going there by car. It is best to ask the locals for up-to-date directions as it seems that they are currently building roads for easier access to the valley. As of now, no main road leads to Ritsuunkyo Valley. There is, however, a very narrow dirt road which somehow leads you to a newly constructed road, following which you will see the parking lot for the valley. Please be careful and drive with utmost care up and down the narrow dirt road. It is best to leave the valley before nightfall.

Admission Fees
Adults & High School Students: 500 yen
Junior High School Students and below: Free of charge
Annual Pass: 1000 yen
Groups of 20 people and above: Slight reduction of fee

Opening Hours
March to May: 8 am – 6 pm
June to August: 6 am – 6 pm
September to November: 4 am – 5 pm
*December to January: 10 am – 2 pm

Takeda Castle Ruins are closed from January 4th – End of February . It opens in March so you can plan a visit soon.
*Opening hours may change due to certain circumstances

Getting to Takeda Castle

By Train
Alight at JR Takeda Station and take the mountain road from the south. Be aware that it is a mountain trail, so please wear appropriate shoes

For the brave ones, you can hike to the top (60 minutes).

There are 3 tracks:
1) Behind the station
2) Behind the temple
3) South path

By Car
Parking Locations:
1) In front of the restaurant “Yamashiro no Sato”
2) In the vicinity of the train station

When you arrive at the Wadayama interchange of the Bantan Highway, take the national 312 on the way to Takeda. At the next junction, take the national 136. 1km away, turn left towards the restaurant called Yamashiro no Sato and park there. From there, go up on foot.

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