Ako Castle

Japanese Castles: Ako Castle

Ako Castle 赤穂城

Ako Castle (Ako-jo or Kariya-jo), is a flatland type of castle located in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan.

The castle is well-known for its association with the Forty-seven Ronin, who in 1702 avenged the death of their lord, Naganori Asano, the daimyo of Ako, by killing Yoshinaka Kira. The ronin (masterless samurai) were ordered to commit suicide and their tombs are in Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo.

Ako Castle turret or yagura.
Ako Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is associated with the classic tale of the 47 Ronin

Their leader was Yoshio Oishi (aka Kuranosuke Oishi) and Oishi Shrine stands in the grounds of Ako Castle on the site of the former Oishi mansion. The annual Ako Festival, Gishisai, takes place at Oishi Shrine on December 14 to commemorate the day of the Forty-seven Ronin's attack on Kira.

Ako Castle is often used as a location for the many movie portrayals of the famous and ever-popular story of the Forty-seven Ronin.

Ako Castle was built by Asano Naganao and completed in 1648 after 13 years of construction. The design is somewhat different from traditional castles with its sharply angled walls recalling the castle architecture of Goryokaku in Hakodate, Hokkaido. Ako Castle is located close to the shore.

The keep or donjon was never built in the end as permission was not granted by the Tokugawa regime. However, visitors can admire the fine stone walls and entrance gate as well as a number of yagura or turrets. The inner Ninomaru Gardens have also been tasefully restored.

After the Meiji Restoration of 1868 the castle was dismantled under the Castle Abolition Law passed in 1873. However restoration work, using traditional techniques has been ongoing since the 1970s.

Ako Castle grounds are noted for their cherry-blossom (sakura) in season.

Ako Castle turret or yagura.
Ako Castle, Hyogo Prefecture is popular with fans of the tale of the 47 Ronin
Ako Castle plan.
Design plan showing the layout and defences of Ako Castle with its sharply angled walls and encircling moats

Ako Castle
Admission: Free
Hours: 9am-4.30pm
Tel: 0791 42 2054 (Oishi Shrine)

Oishi Shrine in Ako Castle.
Oishi Shrine dedicated to the spirits of the 47 Ronin within the grounds of Ako Castle

Ako Castle Access - how to get to Ako Castle

Ako Castle is a 15-minute walk from JR Banshu Ako Station on the Ako LIne with trains to both Okayama and Himeji. There are local buses from JR Banshu Ako Station to Ako Castle.

Ako Castle walls.
Ako Castle's steeply angled walls are shown on the base of the donjon that was never completed

Images of Ako Castle by Jake Davies et al

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