Often compared to Machu Picchu by local residents, Takeda Castle appears to be floating in the air. It looks like the castle of the famous animated film “The Castle in the sky” of the studio Ghibli.
Located at an altitude of 535 meters above sea level next to the town of Asago in the hyogo prefecture, Takeda Castle is one of the top 100 most famous castles in Japan, is a National Historic Site and certainly a good stopover on a trip to Japan.
Construction of the castle began in 1431. Lord Sôzen Yamana, then lords of Izushi Castle, calls for the construction of this bastion in order to protect the Tajima region against attacks from neighboring regions, the Tanba and Harima regions.
Thirteen years are needed to complete the construction of the castle. At that time the fortifications were made with earth. Seven lords of the Otagaki family succeed one another after Yamana’s reign.
In 1577, the region of Tajima was invaded by the warlord, Hideyoshi Toyotomi who places him under the control of his younger brother, Hidenaga Toyotomi. Shigeharu Kuwayama and Hirohide Akamatsu subsequently become rulers of the castle.
During Akamastu’s reign, a stone wall was erected to fortify the castle. A technique called Nozurazumi is used (note, the name Anôzumi is commonly used and comes from the group of stonemasons “Anô” who executed the wall).
This technique consists of adding fortifications to the castle with unworked stones, that is to say in their original form. This same technique was used previously for the construction of Azuchi Castle by Nobunaga Oda. Contrary to what one might think the wall was very sturdy and it is moreover the only part of Takeda Castle still present today.
The battle of sekigahara broke out in 1600, opposing the clan ofIeyasu Tokugawa dominating eastern Japan and the Hideyoshi Toyotomi clan, dominating western Japan and to which the last lord of Takeda Castle is allied. By emerging victorious in the battle, the Tokugawa clan puts an end to the era of warring provinces (sengoku jidai, Sengoku era) which had lasted a little over a century.
Akamatsu then rallies to Tokugawa who orders him to seize the Tottori castle. Accused of having set fire to the city around the castle, he is forced to commit suicide by seppuku.
The best time to see the castle in the clouds is to get there around 8am between September and November. The sea of clouds is caused by the mist which evaporates from the Maruyama river located below.
The mist rises halfway up the mountain, and the castle seems to float above the mist. Another good time to see the castle is spring, when the cherry trees are in bloom.
To fully enjoy the scenery, you need to get to the best vantage point which is about a 60-minute walk from Takeda Station, a place called Ritsuunkyo. It offers the best vantage point and is well known to photographers.
To get to Takeda Castle, take the JR line and stop at Takeda Station. You will need a 40-minute walk to reach the castle and ¥ 300 (2.50 euros) to enter.
Another castle in the sky is that of Bitchu Matsuyama located in Takahashi, Okayama department of which you can see a video taken from a drone:
Have a good trip to Japan and good photos!
The ”Castle in the sky”: Takeda Castle
Asago city website (in French!)
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