| Centrip Editorial Board

Experience the Time of Samurai at the All-Original Inuyama Castle

What kind of castle is Inuyama Castle?

view from atop Inuyama Castle

Among the numerous castles in Japan, there are five that are designated as national treasures, and Inuyama Castle is one of those. The main keep is the oldest original one in Japan. It's said that it was built by legendary general Oda Nobunaga's uncle Oda Nobuyasu in 1537. The castle was built with a great view of the surrounding area and to its rear is a rough-running river. Since the castle was often on the frontline of battle, many generals made Inuyama Castle their home, including Toyotomi Hideyoshi, even after Oda Nobunaga's demise.

view from atop Inuyama Castle

It takes 55 minutes to get from Centrair to Inuyama and 25 minutes from Nagoya Station to Inuyama using Meitetsu. Both offer non-stop service making access to Inuyama really convenient. You can even take the subway if you hop on the Tsurumai Line towards Inuyama. After you arrive at Inuyama, it's just a 20 minute walk to the castle and you can take your time and enjoy some of the surrounding castle town on your way.

Three Important Points about Inuyama Castle

So what's made the beloved Inuyama Castle so appealing all these years? Let's find out the top three reasons why.

Remnants of the Samurai Age

Inside Inuyama Castle

Inuyama Castle was built during the time of the samurai. In that era, guns had not yet come to Japan, so a samurai's weapons were limited to swords and bows. The castle is four stories tall and evidence of battle can still be seen on the first and second floors.

castle steps
In order to deter would-be attackers, the first-floor steps are quite steep.
the view from the window
The castle's windows acted as "murder holes"—making it easy to shoot arrows down at intruders.


The Warrior Runway

On the second floor, there is a hallway that encircles the central armory called "The Warrior Runway". Samurai could quickly grab spears and swords and the high ceilings allowed them to quickly grab-and-go.


While visitors can enjoy the vestiges of historical battles, architecture buffs will also enjoy Inuyama Castle. The castle is built on a hill and surrounded by a vast plain near a rushing river. The nearby forests provided wood for the castle's construction. The highest quality wood was selected when the castle was built.

400–500 year-old support beams.
The support beams under Inuyama Castle are 400–500 years old. Without wood planes, the wood had to be shaped using an adze. The resulting texture resembles that of fish scales.
Inuyama Castle basement
The foundation of Inuyama Castle is built with stones. The stones are roughly 20 million years old. Since the builders of the time didn't have great tools to sculpt them, the stones are pretty much in their natural shape.
Castle arch
The decorative arches of the castle remain on the third floor. Be sure to check out the subtle differences between the arches of the north and south versus those on the east and west.

The View from atop the Great Lord's Keep

View from the top window
Looking down from the top of Inuyama Castle

From atop the castle's keep, you can see all of the castle's watchtowers. Even the oddly low handrails from long ago remain. If you make your way all-around the top, you can look out and see Gifu Castle, Nagoya Castle and Komaki Castle. You can imagine how those who lived in Inuyama Castle might have looked out of the hordes of approaching samurai. A castle with a view like this is quite rare.


The Kisogawa River
The Kisogawa River runs to the north of Inuyama Castle. It was built next to the river to stave off attacks. It's in a great spot on the border of plain and mountain.
Castle floor
The floors of the watchtowers aim down diagonally to ensure rainwater flows down from the tower.
Looking towards Nagoya
You can see the cluster of tall buildings in Nagoya from the castle. Even long ago, samurai look out in this same direction. You might just be able to imagine how they felt when they looked out over the land.

How Foreign Visitors Can Enjoy Inuyama Castle

castle steps
the view from the window

As you enter Inuyama Castle from the surrounding castle town and you pass through the Shinto shrine nearby, you'll climb a flight of stairs. This spot is really popular in the fall because of the multi-colored leaves visitors can see. There are also a large number of fun experiences to be had around the castle.

English tours of the castle
There are a number of foreign-language volunteers that give tours of the castle. You'll find information about these tours near the ticket office.
Shops and rest areas
Inside the castle gates, you'll find shops and rest areas. If you want to take a piece of the history home with you, you can pick up a souvenir or two as well.
You can get a rickshaw ride in front of the castle for ¥1000 (2 people). The ride is 15 minutes long (no rides during rainy weather). Foreign language assistance isn't available for these, but the transaction isn't too difficult.

At Inuyama Castle, you can see a little bit of the battlefield the samurai fought on and where the great lords of feudal Japan once lived. The original castle keep is brimming with history and authenticity. Study its architecture, enjoy its view and atmosphere and experience a piece of history.

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