Inuyama Castle – Withstanding the Test of Time
Inuyama Castle - one of five Japanese castle's bestowed national treasure status - combines beauty and history in equal measure. Be sure to check it out if you're in the area.
Located in Aichi Prefecture on the banks of the Kiso River, Inuyama Castle is the oldest of the historic Japanese castles and considered a great feat of architecture and aesthetic. The other four being Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture, Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture, Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture and Hikone Castle in Shiga Prefecture.
Want more castles? Check our article Japan Castles – The 15 Best Japanese Castles
About Inuyama Castle
‘Inuyama’ literally means ‘dog mountain’ (犬山) due to the mountains former life as a hotspot for hunting with dogs. There are, however, other theories as to the origin of the name. Take a look at the official city homepage of Inuyama if you’re curious.
Inuyama Castle was designated a national treasure because of its age and historic importance. Built in the last year of what is known as the Muromachi period (1338 – 1537), the tower is the oldest existing example of this unique Japanese architectural style. The castle’s national treasure status was first awarded to it in 1935 and for a second time in 1952 after a change to the regulations.
The elevated ground on which the castle was built means there are excellent views over the valley and the banks of the Kiso River from the top of the main tower. Despite Japan’s tumultuous history the castle remains a time capsule back to when it was first built, and continues to tower majestically over its surroundings.
Further Info and Events
There are several facilities and events in and around the castle that are sure to make a stay in Inuyama more than worth it. Have a look at the official site guide and be inspired by the rich culture around Inuyama Castle.
1. Summer Festival and Fireworks Display
In the summer months, a great festival takes place along the banks of Kiso River with a fantastic fireworks display as its centerpiece. Pyrotechnicians fire their creations from boats floating along the river, lighting up the sky and making the water gleam. The festival enjoys a wonderful atmosphere, helped in no small part by Inuyama Castle’s hulking presence in the background.
Read more on the Summer Festival and Fireworks Display here.
2. Inuyama Festival
A nationally significant ‘intangible cultural asset’, the Inuyama Festival was first held in 1635 at Haristuna Shrine and has continued into the present. It is held every year on the first weekend of April in the midst of the cherry blossom season. The highlights of the festival are the 13 historic floats, handed down through generations, displayed in a big parade soundtracked by traditional Japanese music of flutes and drums. At night, each of these floats is lit by 365 Japanese lanterns, the light of which, along with the presence of traditionally dressed locals and blooming cherry blossom trees, create a uniquely Japanese atmosphere.
Read more on the Inuyama Festival here.
Mon – Sun 09.00 am – 05.00 pm (last admission: 04.30 pm)
closed 12/29 – 12/31
adult 550 yen
child 110 yen (until junior high school)
The closest stop is Inuyama Yuen Station (犬山遊園 at the center of the map above), serviced by the Meitetsu-Inuyama and the Meitetsu Limited Express lines. The train station is just a 10-15 minute walk from Inuyama Castle away and – should you choose so – you can walk along Kiso River to get to the castle grounds.