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Most Recommended Palace or Castle

Chicago, Illinois
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352 posts
71 reviews
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Most Recommended Palace or Castle

My future husband and I will be honeymooning in Japan from May 10-22. I thought it would be interesting to see a palace or a castle while we are there (and it would make a nice break from temples and shrines). However, it seems that the Tokyo and Kyoto Imperial palaces are recommended against, being described as boring. Since these places, as well as several others I saw, require advance reservation and therefore a specific time commitment, I want to ensure that whatever palace or castle we see is worthwhile. Also I would like recommendation as to how to best fit such a visit into our itinerary. Right now our itinerary looks like this:

Mon.-Tues. May 10-11: Ueno, Asakusa, Akihabara

Wed. May 12: Kamakura

Thurs. May 13: Ghibli Museum, Shibuya/Harajuku, possibly Tokyo Tower in the evening (though this can easily be moved to a different day)

Fri. May 14: Asakusa to see Sanja Matsuri

Sat. May 15: Depart for Kyoto, visit northern area (i.e. Kinkakuji), but we have to check into our new lodgings (Buddhist temple) from 3:30pm-6:30pm

Sun. May 16: Do zen meditation and temple tour at 9:00am, then depart for our ryokan stay in Gion (must check in there by 3pm-6:30pm). Hoping to make a stop into central Kyoto before checking into the ryokan, might make a good opportunity to see a castle/palace. Do you think there is enough time to do so? And is a lot of stuff closed on Sunday? Will this limit us?

Mon. May 17: Explore Higashiyama area.

Tues. May 18: Explore Arashiyama area.

Wed. May 19: Fushimi Inari Shrines. Visit Nara.

Thurs. May 20: Head back to Tokyo (Ginza area).

Fri. May 21: Visit Hakone/Fuji, or somewhere around that area.

Sat. May 22: Tsukiji Fish Market early in the morning. Head to Narita airport to depart for home.

Thanks all!

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1. Re: Most Recommended Palace or Castle

Many castles in Japan are concrete reconstructions but the one in Matsumoto is still an authentic wooden structure. It's a great castle in a very pleasant setting.

It's a bit of a detour but you could visit it on the way back from Kyoto. Take the Shinkansen as far as Nagoya then take a scenic train journey from there to Matsumoto. Continue onwards to Nagano and catch the Shinkansen from there to Tokyo. Will you have a JR pass?

Osaka Castle is a modern concrete reconstruction but I thought there were plenty of interesting exhibits inside. Himeji Castle is highly regarded but I haven't been there.

Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Most Recommended Palace or Castle

Unfortunately Himeji will be covered in scaffolding during my visit. :(

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Most Recommended Palace or Castle

I haven't been there, but Hikone is one of the original castles...it is near Lake Biwa.


You can get off the shinkansen between Tokyo & Kyoto at Maibara and then take a local train to Hikone. Apparently it's not a long trip. If you are set on seeing a castle this might be the most convenient one.

Inuyama, just north of Nagoya, is another that might be a convenient stop off the shinkansen.


I haven't been to that one either. :) I have been to Matsumoto castle several times, and as to whether any of these castles is worth it would be a guess...depends on what you like.

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4. Re: Most Recommended Palace or Castle

Of course Himeji would be the very best and convenient for you to visit from Kyoto. This repair work that is suppose to be starting on Himeji has been put off a few times, so when you are in Kyoto it would be good to check with your hotel concierge to be sure it really is covered at that time.

Hikone castle is a sweet little castle, and you can easily get there directly from Kyoto. It is a less than an hour train trip, and you might find something else that interests you in the area, around Lake Biwa. Here is some information about it, on the right side of the page is a link to a pdf map and directions for getting there.


Within Kyoto itself you might want to visit Nijo. It is called a castle, and it does have a moat and other fortification components, but mostly it was used as as summer palace. It's fun to walk through Nijo because you will be walking on Nightengale Floors!

Fujieda, Japan
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5. Re: Most Recommended Palace or Castle

As far as the Palace for Castle goes, that of Nijo Castle is by far the best.

6. Re: Most Recommended Palace or Castle

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