08 November, 2012

Hyogo’s best viewpoint: Takeda Castle Ruins

View from Ritsuunkyo

Requiring little or no introduction, Himeji Castle has always been Hyogo’s most iconic castle. However, it is the ruins of another castle in Hyogo that are drawing the limelight as a must-see site. Some doubt that ruins alone are worth a visit until they see the picture above. These are the Takeda Castle Ruins in Asago-city, Hyogo. With National Historic Site status, the ruins are attracting quite a few tourists from all over the country as a recently released Japanese movie was filmed there. The figure of visitors hit a record high this year and is expected to rise even further.

This site is also referred to as Japan’s Machu Picchu or “Castle in the Sky” due to its autumnal views surrounded by sea of clouds like the picture above. This sea of clouds can be seen in the early mornings during autumn (Sept- Nov) when there is a sharp temperature difference between day and night.

大手門 Castle Gate

Before sunrise

I had the opportunity to go and see it with own my eyes the other day. I left Kobe by car at 3 am and arrived at the ruins at 5 am. All the parking lots are full by 5 am on weekends. When visiting the ruins by train, the nearest station is JR Takeda station. Visitors can leave their luggage and pick up some guides at the station. It takes approximately 40 minutes to hike from the foot of the mountain to the top where the ruins stand.

The best time to witness the sea of clouds is from sunrise to 8am. This sweeping vista is amazing, isn’t it?

Another great view. It can be seen from 353 meters above the ground!

A new parking space will be open in November and a resource center for the Takeda castle called “Takeda Kurashi-no Koryukan” is scheduled to open next November. Here, visitors will be able to study the history of the site and take a break. The ruins are a free attraction at the moment, but Asago city is looking to start charging for entry soon so now is the best time to visit!

You’ll no doubt be hungry after a long hike. Sampling local meals such as Shikaniku-don, seasoned venison and rice afterwards is a must. Very healthy!

Shikaniku-don (Michinoeki Asago)

The site is becoming a popular tourist destination amongst young people because the ruins have garnered a reputation as a lover’s sanctuary in Japan. The ruins are easily accessible from other tourist spots nearby; they are reachable in an hour by train from Kinosaki, two hours by train from Himeji and Kobe, and two and a half hour by train from Kyoto. This makes them a great choice for a day trip from any of these places. 

From Kinosaki: Take the JR San-in line to Wadayama, change to the JR Bantan line for Takeda station.
From Kobe (via Himeji): Take the Bantan-line at JR Himeji station to Takeda station.
From Kyoto: Take the Ltd. Express on the San-in line to Wadayama. Take the JR Bantan line from Wadayama to Takeda.
To Ritsuunkyo: Take a taxi for 20 min or walk an hour from Takeda station.

Wadayama-cho Tourism Association

Official website
Takeda Castle Ruins on Hyogo Tourism Guide

We’d like to introduce the new Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art opening in November 3rd in the next issue. Don’t miss it!