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Hikone Castle is the main stronghold for the 30,000 goku (goku stands for the amount of rice consumed by a man in one year, a term used to measure wealth in feudal Japan) of the Hikone territory which was lorded over by the Ii family during the Edo period. Construction of the castle was managed by the feudal lords Ii Naotsugu and Ii Naotaka which lasted around 20 years and was finally completed in 1622. Hikone Castle stands out in Japan as one of the four castles designated as national treasures along with Himeji Castle, Matsumoto Castle, and Inuyama Castle. Hikone Castle is situated upon a small hill whose surrounding moat draws directly from Lake Biwa. There are many interesting features of the castle like the 3-storied, 3-tiered tenshu castle main keep (national treasure), the tenbin-yagura turret that was taken from the previously built Nagahama Castle (important cultural property), taiko-yagura mon which was used to signal important messages to the center of the castle, and so on! The sweeping views of Lake Biwa from the top floor are also a must see.
- 1-1 Kinki-cho, Hikone-shi, Shiga
- Contact No.
- 15-min walk from the JR Hikone Station
- Opening Hours / Holidays
- 8:30-17:00 (Main Keep Open until 17:30)
Open all year round
- Official Website
- Time Required
- 1 hour
- Admission fee
- Admission Fee: 600 yen (includes entry to Genkyu-en)
※ Some information is displayed in Japanese and machine-translated English, which may not be accurate.
For the latest information, please check the official website for each spot.
Inside the Main Keep
Some of the main features of the main keep of the castle are the massive pillars and beams as well as the incredibly steep stairs. On display on the 2F are roof tiles that were used at the time of its construction. One can also see many slits in the walls that were used to set guns to fight off invaders.
Important Cultural Property: Tenbin-Yagura Turret
The tenbin-yagura turret is named “tenbin” (a scale balance) because of the symmetrical shape of the bridge hallway between buildings which looks just like a scale balance. In times of emergency, the bridge could be destroyed to cut off entry to the main keep making for a formidable defense system.
Important Cultural Property: Taiko-Mon Yagura Turret
The taiko-mon yagura turret is the last stronghold before the main keep. The name “taiko (drum) mon (gate) yagura (turret)” was given because a taiko drum was placed in the turret to warn the main keep of urgent messages. The turret has a great sense of power rising above the massive stone walls.
Views from the Main Keep
One can get fantastic sweeping views of Lake Biwa, beautiful Genkyu-en (garden), and the surrounding area. We recommended planning your trip around spring or fall when the trees are dyed in their bright respective seasonal colors.
Cherry Blossom Highlight
In spring, Hikone Castle is blessed with an explosion of blooming cherry blossoms offering stunning views of the castle buildings and cherry trees that line the moat. The view of the 1,200 cherry trees in full bloom is absolutely overwhelming! A particularly miraculous sight is the reflection in the moat creating a double image of the white walls of the castle turrets surrounded by the pink petals of the cherry blossoms. We also recommend the stunning night illuminations.
Elegant Daimyo Park: Genkyu-en
Genkyu-en is located in the north-eastern part of Daimyo (feudal lord) Park which was created to resemble the “Eight Views of Omi” that in turn originate from the “Eight Views of Lake Biwa” and the “Eight Views of Xioxiang” in China. Go ahead and experience the elegant beauty of the Daimyo Gardens during the “Sounds of Chirping Insects Event” held every September and the “Fall Colors of Genkyu-en Park Illumination” held every November.
Meet the Original Mascot Character of Hikone, Hiko-Nyan!
Here, we introduce the mascot character of Hikone City, Shiga who’s won great fame from his silly performances, Hiko-nyan. Hiko-nyan is also famous as the originator of silly mascot characters that have become popular all over Japan. Come to the Hikone Castle area where you can meet Hiko-nyan any day of the week.