Castle Tour 2016


Hello! This is Anna, one of the summer interns. Last weekend, I along with the other IMS intern and two of our supervisors went on a tour of a few of the famous castles in the Okayama and Hyōgo area. Since it was such an amazing experience, I thought I would dedicate this blog post to talk a little bit about the amazing places we visited during our 2-day vacation.


As soon as we got off the airplane in Osaka, the first place we visited was the Takeda Castle ruins. Located in Asago, Hyōgo Prefecture, its history dates back to approximately 1441, when the local lord Yamana Sozen ordered the construction of the castle town. It was originally thought to have been constructed by Otagaki, a man working for Yamana Sozen who became the next lord of the castle. The last lord to occupy this area was Akamatsu Hirohide, who fought on the side of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 (the battle that resulted in the establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu, the last shogunate of Japan). The castle was abandoned soon thereafter and its ruins have remained a remarkable sight to this day.


Although visiting the ruins required both a bus and a short hike uphill, the amazing stone remnants as well as the breathtaking view were well worth it. Visiting Takeda Castle made me understand why is it so aptly referred to as the “Machu Picchu of Japan”. On cloudy days, the entire area looks as if it were a castle floating in the sky. Although it was only our first stop, I already knew that this one would be my favorite.


On the second day of our trip, we visited Bitchū Matsuyama Castle in Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture. The actual castle itself is quite small, but it is beautifully built and has a great view, so overall it was a great experience. At 480 meters above sea level, this is known as the highest altitude mountain castle in Japan. As we were walking up, I overheard someone mention that each and every one of the stone steps (there were many) were strategically placed in non-uniform heights and widths as to make attacks from adversaries increasingly difficult. This castle was also a bit out of the way, but the views are well worth the effort.



For our last destination, we stopped back in Hyōgo on our way to the Osaka airport to visit the famous Himeji Castle. Sometimes referred to as the White Heron Castle, it is widely known as one of the most beautiful castles in Japan for its size, architecture, and overall preservation. White Heron Castle in Japanese is “Shirasagijo”, which is why some people humorously call it “Shirosugijo”, meaning “Too White Castle” (recent restorations have left Himeji Castle an inauthentic-looking stark white). As a World Heritage site, it should go without saying that the area was crowded, and it was by far the most popular destination out of the ones we visited. Although climbing up all six flights of the main keep on a humid day wasn’t the most enjoyable, the castle itself and the grounds were absolutely stunning.


Overall, taking the weekend to go outside of Tokyo to be able to see such magnificent structures and be surrounded by an abundance of nature proved to be a wonderful experience. I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to do this thanks to my internship, and I would definitely recommend checking out these places for anyone seeking travel destinations.






東京を出て大阪伊丹空港に到着した直後、一番最初に行った場所は兵庫県朝来市の竹田城跡です。江戸時代末期(~1441年)に山名宗全大名に雇われた太田垣氏が成立したと思われ、その後竹田城主になったという話です。武田城跡の最後の城主は1600年の関ヶ原の戦いでは徳川 家康と一緒に戦いを行った赤松広秀でしたが、しかし戦後その徳川家康から切腹を命じられ、それから武田城跡は廃れたままでした。


お城に行くのにマイクロバスと歩きが必要でしたが、素敵な廃虚や景色見られることができてそれだけの価値があると思います。 竹田城は多くの人々に「日本のマチュピチュ」だと言われていますが、本当にそのとうりだと実感しました。曇りの日には、雲海に囲まれて空の上にう浮いているようなのです。お城ツアー最初の場所でしたが、もうここが一番お気に入りな場所になると感じていました。






全般的に、東京から少し離れ、とてもきれいな建物や自然に囲まれられることができてとても楽しい経験になりました。インターンシップでこちら三つの場所に行けることができてとても感謝しています。  皆様の中で旅行先を探ししている方には自信を持ってお薦めします。


-Anna Reutin