Japanese Castles: Inuyama Castle
Inuyama Castle 犬山城
Inuyama Castle is the oldest fortress in Japan dating back to 1440. Inuyama Castle's present keep was constructed in 1537 and is an outstanding example of Momoyama Period defensive architecture.
Inuyama Castle (Tel: 0568 61 1711), located in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, north of Nagoya city, is a 15 minute walk from Inuyama Station or Inuyama-Yuen Station on a small hill overlooking the clear Kiso River below and Inuyama town. Inuyama Castle grounds contain a number of small shrines and there are a several viewpoints of the town and valley below.
The castle was strengthed by Oda Nobuyasu, the uncle of local strongman Oda Nobunaga, in 1537. Inuyama Castle has four storeys above ground and two basement storeys. In 1584 the castle was occupied by the forces of Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the battle of Komaki Nagakute against the army of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Inuyama Castle's wooden keep (donjon) exhibits displays of samurai armor, folding screens (byobu), swords, roof tiles including a large shachi, photographs of other Japanese castles and various documents from the castle's long historical past.
The first floor of the castle contains a storage room and a room for the lord of the castle. The second floor is the castle's armory and has wooden shelves for storing weapons and a 3.6m wide corridor surrounding the room which is known as musha-bashiri (warriors running). The third floor is divided into two rooms known as Hafu-no-ma and Kara-hafu. The fourth and final floor is surrounded by a viewing balcony.
View from Inuyama Castle balcony, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
In 1871, many of the castle's outlying buildings were destroyed on the orders of the new Meiji government. The Honmaru-mon Gate, which is the main entrance to the castle is a wonderfully-done reconstruction.
Inuyama Castle was privately owned by the Naruse family until 2004 when ownership of the building and grounds was transferred to a local civic foundation in Inuyama.
The ticket to the castle also allows entry to the Inuyama Artifacts Museum and the Karakuri Exhibition Room opposite each other on the approach road to the castle.
The castle grounds contain the Sanko Inari Shrine with a number of red torii gates and the Haritsuna Shrine with the figure of a horse.
Inuyama Castle is one of the oldest castles in Japan
The black painted, wooden walls of Inuyama Castle building
Oji, Inuyama Ojikitayoshiken 65-2
Inuyama Castle is a short stroll from either Inuyama or Inuyama-Yuen stations both on the Meitetsu Line from Nagoya and Toyohashi. The Jo-an Teahouse is located in the grounds of the Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel, a short walk from Inuyama Castle. Turn left out of the main entrance to the castle cross over the small Gose River (郷瀬川) and turn right.
From Nagoya Station, Inuyama is 30 minutes by Meitetsu Inuyama Line and about the same time from Gifu Meitetsu Station.
Alternatively ride the Meitetsu Komaki Line from Kami Iida in Nagoya. From Gifu JR Station there are trains to nearby Unuma Station, a short stroll over the River Kiso to Inuyama. If you are travelling from the north of Nagoya, take the Tsurumai Subway Line in Nagoya to the last stop at Kami Otai and change to a Meitetsu Inuyama Line train there.
Inuyama festival float near Inuyama Castle, Aichi, Japan
There are long distance bus services from outside Inuyama Station to Tokyo (Shinjuku), Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya (every 30 minutes), Gujo Hachiman (1 hour) and Kobe. Driving from Nagoya take National Highway 41 off the Komaki Interchange of the Tomei Expressway.
Inuyama Castle seen through trees in early May
Other castles in the Chubu area of central Japan include Nagoya Castle, Kiyosu Castle, Okazaki Castle and Gifu Castle.