IMG_5920 copy

How many of the top 20 most popular Japanese castles (according to TripAdvisor) have you been to?

TripAdvisor has revealed its top 20 best Japanese castles for 2016 based on commentary from domestic travellers – can you guess which castle is number one?

▼ Do you know what castle this is?

IMG_5913 copy

The answer is…Himeji Castle, meaning last year’s number three spot has taken the gold medal this year. Situated in Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji Castle comprises of 83 buildings and is also known as the “White Heron Castle” as its bright white exterior is said to resemble a heron taking flight. Himeji Castle was one of Japan’s first UNESCO world heritage sites in 1993. Restoration work was recently carried out on the castle and it was reopened on March 27, 2015.

Here are some comments from those who visited Himeji Castle:

“No matter how many times I visit, it takes my breath away, it’s a beautiful, gorgeous castle.”
“Naturally this is a national treasure, the expansiveness of white is overwhelming.”

▼ Castle number 2: Matsumoto Castle


Maintaining second place for the second year running is Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture, which is surrounded by a large moat and stunning mountain ranges. In contrast to Himeji Castle, which is built on a hill, Matsumoto Castle was built on flat land in the late sixteenth century. Matsumoto Castle is also known as the “Crow Castle” thanks to its black color. The castle’s keep still has its original wooden interiors and outside stonework.

Here are some comments from those who visited Matsumoto Castle:

“Out of the 100 famous Japanese castles, I’ve seen about 80; this castle looks just like a postcard with its mountainous backdrop.”
“You can see the castle’s reflection in the moat water, giving you a different perspective other than looking just at the castle.”

▼ Castle number 3: Kumamoto Castle


Last year’s number one has come in at number three this year: Kumamoto Castle in Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu. Kumamoto Castle is another hilltop castle, originally built in 1467 and reconstructed in 1960. This castle unfortunately suffered moderate damage from the large Kumamoto earthquake earlier this year.

Here is what one person said about their visit to Kumamoto Castle:

“I’ve been to many castles, but there are very few that are better than this.”

▼ Castle number 4: Inuyama Castle (behind the castle’s mascot Wanmaru-kun)


Rising two spots from last year into number four is Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture. Inuyama Castle is also perched on top of a hill and overlooks Kiso River, which serves as the border between Aichi and Gifu prefectures. Inuyama Castle is one of only 12 surviving castles that were built before the Edo period. Inuyama literally means “dog mountain”, which made the castle’s choice of mascot that little bit easier.

Here are some comments from those who visited Inuyama Castle:

“Compared to other castles, this hasn’t been modernized; it’s a small but nice castle.”
“I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it is also different for different countries, but this is a beautiful castle that gives the feeling of simplicity and security.”

▼ Castle number 5: Nijo Castle


Rounding off the top 5 is Nijo Castle in Kyoto. Nijo Castle is on a huge block of flat land spanning 275,000 square meters. This castle is one of the seventeen “historic monuments of ancient Kyoto” chosen by UNESCO as a heritage site. Nijo Castle was constructed upon the orders of shogunate Tokugawa Ieyasu and completed in 1626.

Here are some comments from those who visited Nijo Castle:

“This castle influenced history.”
“The interior is amazing, I could feel that this castle had a different purpose to all of the other castles I’ve seen.”

The top 20 list of the best castles in Japan according to TripAdvisor is presented below:

1. Himeji Castle (Hyogo)
2. Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)
3. Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto)
4. Inuyama Castle (Aichi)
5. Nijo Castle (Kyoto)
6. Matsuyama Castle (Ehime)
7. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle (Okayama)
8. Matsue Castle (Shimane)
9. Hikone Castle (Shiga)
10. Nakagusuku Castle Ruins (Okinawa)
11. Katsuren Castle Ruins (Okinawa)
12. Takeda Castle Ruins (Hyogo)
13. Nakijin Castle Remains (Okinawa)
14. Shuri Castle (Okinawa)
15. Kochi Castle (Kochi)
16. Azuchi Castle Ruins (Shiga)
17. Osaka Castle (Osaka)
18. Zakimi Castle Ruins (Okinawa)
19. Maruoka Castle (Fukui)
20. Tsuruga Castle (Fukushima)

▼ Number 14: Shuri Castle (Okinawa)


I was surprised that five out of the top twenty are located in Okinawa, which makes it a bit more enticing as a next holiday destination. You can compare this year’s top 20 ranking with previous years (2012 and 2013).

I think I’ve been to about seven of this year’s top 20 best castles. How many of this year’s top 20 best castles have you been to?

Source: NariNari,, Wikipedia (1234, 5)
Featured image: ©RocketNews24
Images: Wikipedia/663highland (1, 2, 3), Wanmaru-kun Inuyama City Official Character Homepage, Wikipedia/Chino