Takeda Castle, Hyogo Prefecture: Castle in the sky emerging over a sea of clouds!
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Takeda Castle is up on the mountains and is said to be built in 1441 by Yamana Sozen, the guardian lord, who had its headquarters at Tajimanokuni (currently, Hyogo prefecture). Though the castle was abandoned in 1600, the ruins with its remaining original stone walls are quite rare and are designated as a national historic site.
Furushiro-yama, where the ruins are located, is a relatively low 353.7 m mountain, but because of its magical sight seen on some early autumn and winter mornings where it is surrounded by a sea of clouds, this site is referred to as “Castle in the Sky” or the “Machu Picchu of Japan.”
Late September to early December is no doubt the best season to enjoy the view of a sea of clouds. To be more precise, the best time is from sunrise to 8 a.m. on a breezy day with a sharp temperature difference between morning and noon, when a dense fog warning is issued. Although you must be lucky enough to satisfy all the conditions above, it is definitely worth taking your chances.
1. Castle Tower
While no historical evidence of the castle tower has been found, the remains of its base stones are seen as a proof of its existence. The sight gives us an idea of the original appearance of the castle tower.
2. Stone Walls
There are some robust stone walls that still remain at Takeda Castle ruins. Stone walls for mountain castles preserved in such good condition are said to be very few and rare.
（Source：天空の城 竹田城址 画像集）
3. Wadayama Tourist Information Center
Located within JR Takeda Station premises, Wadayama Tourist Information Center provides detailed information for visiting the castle. The reconstructed model of Takeda Castle is also on display.
Wadayama Tourist Information Center (わだやま観光案内所)
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00 (April to November), 9:00-16:00 (December to March)
Closed: December 29 – January 3
Address: Takeda, Wadayama-cho, Asago-shi, Hyogo (兵庫県朝来市和田山町竹田)
Phone: +81-79-672-3301 (Asago City Office)(朝来市役所)
4. Tenku-no-Shiro (Castle in the Sky) Information Center
Other than a movie theater that introduces the Takeda Castle, this center displays artifacts of the castle, and a 1:300 scale model of Takeda Castle created from a bird’s-eye view.
“Tenku-no-Shiro” Information Center (情報館「天空の城」)
Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
Closed: December 29 – January 3
Address: Takeda, Wadayama-cho, Asago-shi, Hyogo (within Former Kumura Sake Brewer “EN” premises) (兵庫県朝来市和田山町竹田 （旧木村酒造EN内）)
5. Yamajiro no Sato
This is the nearest resting facility close to the castle equipped with a restaurant, a souvenir shop and an exhibition room devoted to the history of Takeda Castle. You can also stamp your travel notebook with a rubber stamp of “Japan’s Top 100 Castles” authorized by Japan Castle Foundation that will be a reminder of the trip to Takeda.
Yamajiro no Sato (山城の郷)
Open hours: 9:00 – 16:00
Address: Shin-ido, Wadayamachotono, Asago-shi, Hyogo (兵庫県朝来市和田山町殿新井土)
One of the specialties of Tajima area, where Takeda Castle is located, is the famous “Tajima beef.” Tajima cattle is a stock for Kobe beef and a lot of excellent beef in Japan. Its delicious and succulent. The steaks are rather expensive, but you can pick up reasonably-priced beef croquettes and hamburgers which are also highly recommended.
This is a traditional Japanese-style inn with renovated modern guest rooms. Prior booking is a must as they have only two rooms, named “Ten” and “Sora,” meaning heaven or sky. They also have a café.
Takeda Machiya Terakoya Hana-tei (竹田町屋・寺子屋はな亭)
Address: 250-1 Nishigawa, Takeda Naka-cho, Wadayama-cho, Asago-shi, Hyogo (兵庫県朝来市和田山町竹田中町西側250-1)
A small inn with 10 guest rooms, it has a homely atmosphere and seasonal meals will warmly welcome all the guests. The neighboring hot spring spa is an added plus.
Address: 31 Wadayama, Wadayama-cho, Asago-shi, Hyogo (兵庫県朝来市和田山町和田山31)
During the year-end through the new-year period, the neighboring area of Ikuno Mine Hall in Asago-shi is illuminated for an event named “Ikuno Illumination Road” (from December 5, 2015 through January 4, 2016). Streets and buildings including Tan-yo Hall and Ikuno Elementary School are beautifully illuminated. On the first day of the event, a countdown ceremony for the first light-up will be held with a hand-bell performance.
A perfect view of Takeda Castle floating on the sea of clouds can be enjoyed from the Ritsuun gorge observatory of Mt. Asago located on the southeast side of the castle. Some areas can be closed for the purpose of preserving the historic sites.
By train and taxi: Take a taxi from Takeda Station on JR Bantan Line for about 10 minutes to Takeda Castle parking lot. Approx. 15-min walk to the mountaintop.
By car: Exit at Wadayama JCT of Bantan Connecting Road, turn right at Katsu intersection, approx. 20-min walk from Takeda Castle parking lot.
Takeda Castle Ruins (竹田城址)
Takeda Furushiro-yama, Wadayama-cho, Asago-shi, Hyogo (兵庫県朝来市和田山町竹田古城山)
Phone: +81-79-674-2120 (“Tenku-no-Shiro” Information Center)
Entry fee: Adults and high school students – 500 yen/ Junior high school students and younger children – free / Annual passport – 1,000 yen
Opening period: Mid-March through early December (occasionally closed due to bad weather)
Required time : Half a day
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