Hikone Castle – Historic and Natural Beauty Combined
Set within lush grounds, Hikone Castle near Lake Biwa is a must for lovers of history and nature both. Take a closer look with our guide.
Hikone Castle is located in Shiga prefecture near Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. Shiga prefecture is a popular tourist destination known for its natural beauty, particularly the picturesque north shores of Lake Biwa, its mountainous terrain and the lush forests that pepper the region. Hikone Castle is one of Shiga Prefecture’s main attractions and is visited by thousands every year.
Want more castles? Check our article on Japan Castles – the 15 Best Japanese Castles
About Hikone Castle
One of the oldest Japanese castles that still remains intact, Hikone Castle dates back to the Edo period and is one of only five castles in the country classified as an Important National Treasure, the other four being Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture, Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture, Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture and Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture.
Construction on Hikone Castle began in 1603 by order of Shogun Ii Naokatsu but was only completed in 1622. The towering castle is nestled among a traditional Japanese landscape of beautiful gardens and forest, which is just as well, for entrance to the building itself is forbidden. There is, however, a castle museum for you to explore. The best period to visit is during the cherry blossom season or in autumn when the leaves turn red and create a wonderful contrast against the white castle walls.
The castle is surrounded by waterways, giving it natural protection from attack. Besides the castle, the grounds include a park and several buildings and living quarters. See below a miniature model of the site for an overview of the complex.
Further Info and Events
Hikone Castle is also central to many of the areas festivities, such as matsuri (summer) festivals with fireworks, food stands and more. There is also a light show-style event where over a period of a few weeks the castle and surrounding area are lit up in mood lighting for the autumn foliage or spring blossoms. If you want to check out more events, have a peek at the official event site of Hikone Castle here.
Mon – Sun 8.30 am – 5.00 pm
castle, garden and museum: 1.000 yen
castle and garden: 600 yen
garden only: 200 yen
There are several train lines that stop at Hikone Station close to the castle: JR Haruka, Hida, Tokaido-Sanyo lines and Omi Tetsudo Line. The one above seems to be the most convenient, though, as it stops at Kansai Airport and both Shin-Osaka and Kyoto, which are main stops for the Shinkansen as well.