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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide - Kansai - Hikone
Hikone Castle 
# 1   of 3 most visited
sights in Hikone

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Hikone's castle keep

After a construction period of twenty years, Hikone Castle (F, Hikonejō) was completed in 1622. The hilltop castle served as the seat of the Ii daimyo (feudal lords) until the end of the feudal age in 1868.

Hikone Castle is an original castle, i.e. it survived the post feudal era without undergoing destruction and reconstruction. Besides the castle's main keep, most of the inner moats, walls, guard houses and gates also remain intact. Furthermore, parts of the castle's palace buildings have been reconstructed, giving visitors a good impression of a relatively complete Japanese feudal castle.

Three different types of gables are incorporated into the castle keep's exterior

Hikone Castle's three storied castle keep is relatively small but displays a unique design that combines multiple different architecture styles. This is one reason why the castle has been designated a national treasure, the highest designation for cultural properties in Japan, held by only three other castles, Himejijo, Matsumotojo and Inuyamajo. By climbing the steep stairs on the inside of the castle keep to the top floor, visitors can enjoy views over the castle grounds and the city.

The approach to the hilltop castle keep is also interesting. It includes a spiral ramp onto a wooden bridge that can be easily destroyed in case of an attack. There are also several turrets which can be inspected from the inside as well as a large bell that is still rung several times per day to tell the time. A large store house and a horse stable stand near the castle's main gate.

A spiral approach to the castle

At the base of the castle hill stands the Hikone Castle Museum whose main attraction is a partial reconstruction of the former palace buildings. The buildings, which include multiple tatami rooms, corridors and gardens, served as the government offices of the lords and have been reconstructed in the 1980s with great care according to excavations. Ordinary exhibition rooms display the clan's family treasures, including arms and armor, kimono, music instruments and documents.

The Hikone Castle Museum is closed from October 2014 for about eight months for renovation works.

Like many castles in Japan, the grounds of Hikone Castle turn into a popular cherry blossom spot in spring. Hikone's cherry trees reach full bloom usually about a week later than in nearby Kyoto around early to mid April. Not a cherry blossom spot but a place of considerable scenic beauty is Genkyuen Garden located at the base of castle, just outside of the inner moat.

Reconstructed palace buildings in the Hikone Castle Museum

Any Questions? Ask them in our question forum.

How to get there
Hikone Castle is a 15 minute walk along the straight main road from Hikone Station.

How to get to and around Hikone

Hours and Fees
Hikone Castle
Hours:8:30 to 17:30 (entry until 17:00)
Closed:No closing days
Admission:600 yen (castle and garden)
1000 yen (castle, garden and museum)

Hikone Castle Museum
Hours:8:30 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30)
Closed:Closed for renovation from October 2014 for about eight months.
December 25 to 31
Admission:500 yen (museum only)
English:Good

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User Ratings
Ratings for Hikone Castle:
japan-guide.com Rating:
  outstanding  
User Rating (by 192 users):
83/100
  recommended

Best rated sights nationwide (out of 787):
250.  Tokugawa Art Museum (Nagoya)   83/100
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252.  Tofukuji Temple (Kyoto)   83/100
253.  Daikakuji Temple (Kyoto)   83/100
254.  Tamagawa Onsen (Hachimantai)   83/100
255.  Hikone Castle (Hikone)   83/100
256.  Gion Yamakasa (Fukuoka)   83/100
257.  Hieizan (Kyoto)   83/100
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206.  Universal Studios (Osaka)   386
207.  Earthquake Museum (Kobe)   379
208.  Hikone Castle (Hikone)   373
209.  Toei Eigamura (Kyoto)   372
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Japanese Links
Hikone Castle
Official website.
Hikone Castle Museum
Official website.

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