Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟

Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro). These majestic structures―fortified fortresses made of stone and wood―are more than mere relics of the past, and stand as living testimonies to the country's feudal era, samurai warriors, and extraordinary architectural ingenuity.

Hence, it’s no surprise that Japan has a special day to celebrate them. April 6 is “Castle Day” (城の日 Shiro-no-hi), as four can be pronounced as “shi”, while six can be pronounced as “ro”.

In this article, we’ll go on an enchanting cultural journey, guiding you through 10 of Japan's must-visit castles, delving into the history and beauty of these magnificent Japanese castles.

 

Japan’s 12 Original Castles

Maruoka Castle in the winterMaruoka Castle in winter. | Photo by 福井県観光連盟

With the abolition of the feudal domain system during the Meiji Period (1868 –1912), many Japanese castles were destroyed or burnt to the ground under the orders of the Meiji government, as the castles were seen as symbols of the previous Shogunate. It is believed that around 95% of Japan’s castles were destroyed during this period. During World War II, even more castles were destroyed due to bombing and fires. 

As such, many of the castles we see in Japan today are post-World War II reconstructions, with some using reinforced concrete, and others opting to use traditional techniques that remain faithful to the Edo Period (1603–1868) when they were initially constructed.

 

Japan's 12 original castlesJapan’s 12 original castles. | Photo by Carissa Loh (top, middle rows), and photoAC (bottom row).

Fortunately, a small handful of castles managed to survive destruction over the years: 12 to be exact. These 12 castles are known as the “12 Original Castles” (現存天守 genson tenshu)—castles that have a main building (天守 tenshu) built in the Edo Period (1603–1868) or earlier, that remains intact since its original construction. 

These 12 original castles are:

  • Hirosaki Castle (Aomori Prefecture)
  • Matsumoto Castle (Nagano Prefecture)
  • Inuyama Castle (Aichi Prefecture)
  • Maruoka Castle (Fukui Prefecture)
  • Himeji Castle (Hyogo Prefecture)
  • Hikone Castle (Shiga Prefecture)
  • Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle (Okayama Prefecture)
  • Matsue Castle (Shimane Prefecture)
  • Kochi Castle (Kochi Prefecture)
  • Matsuyama Castle (Ehime Prefecture)
  • Uwajima Castle (Ehime Prefecture)
  • Marugame Castle (Kagawa Prefecture)

 

Although original castles are extraordinary and have withstood the test of time, reconstructed castles also hold great importance, as they provide significant historical reminders and insight into a region’s past, and have become symbols of their respective cities. With unique architecture and fascinating stories behind them, let’s take a look at 10 must-visit castles in Japan!

 

10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan

Hirosaki Castle: The Moving Miracle

Hirosaki Castle in springHirosaki Castle at its original spot atop the stone foundation. | Photo by photoAC

Starting from the north and heading southwards, the first castle on our list is Hirosaki Castle (弘前城) in Aomori Prefecture (青森城), mainland Japan’s northernmost prefecture. Hirosaki Castle is the only original castle in the Tohoku Region, and was originally built in 1611. 

Located in Hirosaki Castle Park, the sight of the castle with cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) blooming in spring is said to be one of the best in Japan, with visitors from all over the country flocking over to catch them from late April to early May each year. Aomori Prefecture is the top producer of apples in Japan, and techniques taken from apple cultivation have been adapted to grow denser and more beautiful cherry blossom trees.

 

Hirosaki CastleHirosaki Castle at its new spot 70m away. | Photo by Carissa Loh

Hirosaki Castle sits atop a dry stone foundation (石垣 ishigaki), surrounded by a moat. Over the years, the stone foundation has experienced wear, tear, and damages, so reparation works needed to be done. In order not to damage the castle building, the entire 400-ton castle keep was physically moved 70m away with hydraulic jacks and a dolly system, with an amazing feat of engineering known as hikiya (曳屋). The move took place over three months in 2015, but it is estimated that the earliest the castle tower will be returned to its original spot is in 2025.

 

Hirosaki Castle (弘前城)
Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356
Access: 5-minute walk from Shiyakushomae Bus Stop, which can be reached via the Dotemachi Loop Bus from JR Hirosaki Station (弘前駅)

 

Tsuruga Castle: Japan’s Only Castle with Red Roof Tiles

Tsuruga Castle in Aizu-Wakamatsu.Tsuruga Castle in Aizu-Wakamatsu. | Photo by 福島県観光復興推進委員会 

Heading south to Fukushima Prefecture (福島県), the second castle on this list is a reconstructed castle in Western Fukushima’s Aizu-Wakamatsu City, a former castle town with a rich samurai history. Originally built by the Ashina Clan in 1384 as Kurokawa Castle (黒川城), the castle was rebuilt in 1592 after being captured, and renamed Tsuruga Castle (鶴ヶ城). Unfortunately, Tsuruga Castle was torn down in 1874 after the Boshin War, under the orders of the Meiji Government. The only original structures that remain are the stone walls. With donations from many people, the castle keep was beautifully reconstructed and opened in 1965.

 

Tsuruga Castle’s unique feature: red roof tiles.Tsuruga Castle’s unique feature: red roof tiles. | Photo by Carissa Loh

An iconic feature of Tsuruga Castle is its red roof tiles―most other castles have black, grey, or white roof tiles, but Tsuruga-jo is the only castle in Japan to have them. The castle is also known for its night-time illuminations, which can be enjoyed in spring during the cherry blossom period and in autumn during the autumn leaves period.

 

Tsuruga Castle (鶴ヶ城)
Address: 1-1 Otemachi, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 965-0873
Access: 5-minute walk from either Tsurugajo Kitaguchi bus stop or Tsurugajo Iriguchi bus stop, which can be reached by loop buses (Haikara-san bus or Akabe bus) from JR Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (会津若松駅)

 

 

Edo Castle: Echoes of the Shogunate

Remnants of the Edo ShugonateEdo Castle. | Photo by photoAC

Next, arrive at the historic heart of Tokyo (東京): Edo Castle (江戸城), once the mighty seat of the Tokugawa Shogunate for 260 years. Although much of the original structure has been lost to time, the site's significance remains undiminished. The Imperial Palace, which now occupies the site, offers a poignant reminder of the castle's former glory.

Visiting the castle grounds, you can still sense the grandeur of the Edo Period, with remnants like the massive stone walls and moats evoking a powerful past. While much of Edo Castle's physical presence has given way to modernity, its spirit endures in the city's vibrant culture.

 

Edo Castle (江戸城)
Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-8111
Access: 5-minute walk from JR Tokyo Station (東京駅)

 

Matsumoto Castle: The Majestic Crow Castle

Matsumoto Castle among the cherry blossoms in SpringMatsumoto Castle in spring. | Photo by Carissa Loh

One of only five castles in Japan to be designated a National Treasure (国宝 kokuhо̄), the next castle on our list is the majestic Matsumoto Castle (松本城) in Nagano Prefecture (長野県), which is built atop a stone foundation and surrounded by a moat.  

Five structures in Matsumoto Castle are designated as National Treasures, including the main castle keep, the secondary castle keep, and three turrets (櫓 yagura); all of which are original structures believed to have been built during the Bunroku Era (1592–1596). From the outside, the castle looks like it has five floors, but it actually has six, as there is a “hidden” floor. 

 

Matsumoto Castle’s walls are coated in black lacquerMatsumoto Castle’s walls are coated in black lacquer. | Photo by Carissa Loh

Matsumoto Castle is the only castle in Japan where all walls of the main castle keep are coated with black lacquer, a feature which has earned it the nickname of “Crow Castle” (烏城 karasu-jо̄). It is said that the shape of the black castle resembles a crow spreading its wings.

 

Matsumoto Castle (松本城)
Address: 4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano 390-0873
Access: 15-minute walk from JR Matsumoto Station (松本駅)

 

Hikone Castle: A Journey Through Time

Hikone castle's main keepHikone Castle’s main keep. | Photo by Carissa Loh

Our journey continues to Hikone (彦根), a lesser-known yet equally enchanting destination. Located in the landlocked Shiga Prefecture (滋賀県), Hikone Castle (彦根城) overlooks Japan’s largest lake, the 670km2 Lake Biwa. This castle boasts a strikingly well-preserved three-storey main keep, and its smaller size offers a more intimate glimpse into the life of a samurai. The castle grounds are a serene escape, with stunning gardens and views of Lake Biwa.

 

Hikone Castle (彦根城)
Address: 1-1 Konki-cho, Hikone, Shiga 522-0061
Access: 15-minute walk from JR Hikone Station (彦根駅)

 

Osaka Castle: An Emblem of Power

Osaka Castle in springOsaka Castle. | Photo by photoAC

Next up, we head over to Osaka (大阪府) for the iconic Osaka Castle (大阪城), a symbol of power and resilience. This castle has witnessed some of the most pivotal moments in Japanese history, including the unification of Japan in the 16th century. The castle’s towering presence, surrounded by moats and massive stone walls, makes it a sight to behold.

A reconstructed castle, Osaka Castle’s interior is entirely modern, and even features an elevator to go up and down. Inside the castle museum, you can learn more about the castle’s history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the castle’s former lord and the second unifier of Japan.

During spring, the massive castle park, which spreads over 100 hectares, is a popular cherry blossom viewing destination, with over 3,000 cherry blossom trees blooming in the vicinity.

 

Osaka Castle (大阪城)
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo, Osaka 540-0002
Access: 20-minute walk from JR Ōsakajōkōen Station (大阪城公園駅)

 

Himeji Castle: Japan’s First UNESCO World Heritage Castle

Himeji Castle is an icon of JapanHimeji Castle is one of the best-preserved Japanese castles. | Photo by photoAC

It is impossible to talk about castles in Japan without mentioning Himeji Castle (姫路城) in Hyogo Prefecture (兵庫県). In fact, if you can only visit one castle in Japan, it has to be Himeji Castle―and with good reason. Not only is Himeji Castle a National Treasure, it is also the only Japanese castle to be recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having been one of the first sites in Japan to be registered in 1993.

Due to its elegant, white-plastered walls that resemble a bird taking flight, Himeji Castle is also referred to as “White Egret Castle” (hakurojo) or “White Heron Castle” (shirasagijo).


Himeji Castle is a popular spot to view cherry blossomsHimeji Castle is a popular spot to view cherry blossoms. | Photo by Hyogo Tourism Bureau

Originally completed in 1609, this impressive castle complex is made up of over 80 structures, many of which are astonishingly well-preserved. Serving as a prime example of traditional Japanese castle architecture, 74 of the castle’s structures are designated as Important Cultural Properties (重要文化財 jūyо̄ bunkazai), while eight structures are designated as National Treasures. 

 

Himeji Castle (姫路城)
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo 670-0012
Access: 20-minute walk from JR Himeji Station (姫路駅)

 

Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle: The Castle in the Clouds

Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle, the castle in the skyBitchu-Matsuyama Castle looks like it is floating in a sea of clouds. | Photo by photoAC

The next castle on our list is an incredible sight to behold if you encounter the right conditions. Often referred to as a “castle in the sky” (天空の城 tenkū no shiro), the Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城) in Okayama Prefecture (岡山県) is the only original castle on a mountain. The structure we see today was built in 1683, and from late October to early December, when the mountain is shrouded in clouds, the castle appears to float in a sea of clouds, a fantastical sight that is bound to be unforgettable.

How is the sea of clouds formed? It occurs when the moisture in the air is rapidly cooled and turns into mist. A few factors are required increase your probability of seeing the castle floating in a sea of clouds:

  • A large temperature difference of over 10 degrees between day and night
  • A stable atmosphere with little to no wind
  • High humidity
  • Clear skies

 

The best time to view the sea of clouds at Bitchu Matsuyama Castle is in the early morningThe best time to view the sea of clouds is in the early morning. | Photo by 岡山県観光連盟

The best place to observe the castle floating in a sea of clouds is at the Omatsuyama Observation Deck (大松山展望台), which is a 20-minute taxi ride from JR Bitchu-Takahashi Station.

 

Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城)
Address: 1 Uchisange, Takahashi, Okayama 716-000
Access: 20-minute walk from the upper parking lot, which is a 15-minute taxi ride from JR Bitchu-Takahashi Station (備中高梁駅).

 

Kumamoto Castle: A Fortress of Resilience

Kumamoto Castle in springKumamoto Castle in spring. | Photo by photoAC

Heading over to Kumamoto Prefecture (熊本県) the island of Kyushu (九州), Kumamoto Castle (熊本城) is a fortress celebrated for its imposing stone walls and elaborate defensive measures. Often regarded as one of the most formidable castles in Japan, Kumamoto Castle has withstood numerous battles throughout its history, symbolising the resilience and enduring spirit of the Japanese people.

Though heavily damaged by an earthquake in 2016, restoration efforts were swiftly undertaken―a testament to its historical significance―and the castle reopened to the public in April 2021. The castle's unique black-tiled keep, set against the backdrop of cherry blossoms in spring, offers a striking visual contrast that is both beautiful and poignant.

 

Kumamoto Castle (熊本城)
Address: 1-1 Honmaru, Chuo-ku, Kumamoto-shi, Kumamoto, 860-0002
Access: 10-minute walk from Kumamoto Castle tram station, which is a 17-minute tram ride from JR Kumamoto Station (熊本駅)

 

Shuri Castle: Relics of the Ryukyu Kingdom

Shuri Castle’s main hall before it was burnt downShuri Castle’s main hall before it was burnt down. | Photo by photoAC

Finally, we end this list off with Shuri Castle (首里城) in Okinawa Prefecture (沖縄県), Japan’s southernmost prefecture. Okinawa has a unique history, and used to be part of the Ryukyu Kingdom, so Shuri Castle is very different from all other Japanese castles. 

Housed in a large park, Shuri Castle was a palace with over 500 years of history, and formerly used as the residence of the kings of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The original castle was destroyed in 1945 during the Battle of Okinawa, but was rebuilt in 1992, and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu in 2000.

 

Reconstruction works underway at Shuri CastleReconstruction works underway at Shuri Castle. | Photo by photoAC

Unfortunately, in 2019 a devastating fire completely razed to the ground all of the castle’s main structures, including the main hall (正殿 seiden). Efforts are currently underway to rebuild the damaged structures, with reconstruction works estimated to be completed in 2026. In the meantime, you can still visit other parts of the castle park, and visitors are encouraged to come and have a look at the reconstruction works.

 

Shuri Castle (首里城)
Address: 1-2 Shurikinjocho, Naha-shi, Okinawa 903-0815
Access: 15-minute walk or 5-minute bus ride from Yui Rail Shuri Station (首里駅)

 

The Legacy of Japanese Castles and Culture

As we conclude our tour of Japan's remarkable castles, it’s clear that these structures are more than just stone and wood; they are the heart of Japanese history and culture. Each castle tells a unique story, not just of battles and lords, but of the people who lived within and around its walls.

These are just the tip of the iceberg, and there are so many more we haven’t even covered, such as the opulently-furnished Nagoya Castle (名古屋城) in Aichi Prefecture with its iconic golden shachihoko, Hokkaido's Matsumae Castle (松前城)―Japan's northernmost Edo-style castle, or Ueda Castle (上田城) in Nagano Prefecture―renowned for having repelled not one but two attacks from the Tokugawa forces.

 

Explore Japanese Culture with JAPAN RAIL CLUB

Celebrating Castle Day isn’t just about revisiting the past; it's about exploring destinations while embracing the rich tapestry of Japanese culture. At JAPAN RAIL CLUB, we celebrate all facets of Japan's heritage, such as “ohanami” under the sakura in spring, and moon-viewing or "otsukimi" on the cusp of autumn. 

 

This April 2024, experience Japanese springtime in the comforts of your homes with our spring-themed snack box! Titled “Spring Beginnings”, here is a box filled with Japanese snacks that will remind you of your visit to Japan during spring. Snacks like Sakura Karinto by Marui Suzuki have a history as rich as the castles in Japan, so when you plan your next visit to these majestic structures, remember to immerse yourself in the full experience. 

Why not start with JAPAN RAIL CLUB’s Omiyage Snack Box? Subscribe by 30 April 2024 to receive our exciting “Spring Beginnings” Omiyage Snack Box and enjoy discounts of up to USD33 when you use the promo code “SPRING14” at the checkout page. Happy Castle Day!

Meet the author

Carissa Loh

Having visited all 47 prefectures of Japan, Carissa's next goal in life is to ride all of Japan's sightseeing trains and climb all its 100 Famous Mountains. Sounds like a dream? Check back in 50 years.

Hungry for more?

Get on track with our monthly offerings of exclusive snacks from all over Japan!

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製茶故事:京都舞妓之茶本舖

當提到日本的綠茶,大家都知道日本京都是茶文化的中心。 綠茶一開始是在西元9世紀,由幾個佛教僧侶從中國引進到日本的。在日本人的生活中,綠茶已經成為一種有著許多用途而且對人體健康的飲品。 作為日本文化的一部分,抹茶、煎茶和玉露等的綠茶品種也提供了多樣的口味選擇和體驗。例如傳統的日本茶道,不僅喝茶能帶來健康,茶道更成為了日本獨一無二的文化。

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikonocha Honpo
Sue Lynn

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea culture. Originally introduced by returning Buddhist monks from their travels in China in the 9th...

Sue Lynn Food

Maker's Story: Gyokuro Tea from Kyoto by Maikon...

When it comes to green tea from Japan, Kyoto stands as the hub of tea...

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji, Kyoto by Kyoeiseicha
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with the special “So Much Matcha” Omiyage Snack Box. May marks the start of the traditional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Premium Matcha Products from Uji...

This May, JAPAN RAIL CLUB celebrates the joy that matcha brings to our lives with...

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點
Sue Lynn

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Carissa Loh Culture

綠之日快樂!一起來探索日本新綠季節中五個不能錯過的景點

在日本眾多節慶與珍貴傳統之中,有一個特別關於自然崇敬的慶典——綠之日。這個國定假日訂於每年五月四日,見證了日本與自然的深厚連結,也提醒人們欣賞這個70%都是山區的島國上,那些美麗的綠色景觀。

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Explore During Japan's Shinryoku Season
Sue Lynn

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for nature―Midori-no-Hi (みどりの日 Greenery Day). Observed annually on 4 May, this national holiday is a testament...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Greenery Day: 5 Must-Visit Places to Expl...

Nestled amongst Japan’s vibrant festivities and cherished traditions lies a celebration rooted in reverence for...

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
Sue Lynn

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top producer of agricultural products and seafood: the vast lands covering Japan’s second largest island and...

Wendy Ng

Fresh From Hokkaido: A Guide to Sapporo Central...

Hokkaido is Japan’s food paradise as the northernmost part of the country is the top...

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of Japan
Sue Lynn

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes but even amongst these, there are three locations that rise above the others and are...

Dawn Sim Nature

Nihon Sankei (日本三景): The Three Scenic Views of ...

Japan is an island nation that has always been known for its stunningly beautiful landscapes...

Japan celebrates Golden Week between April 29 to May 5
Sue Lynn

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of Japan's most prominent and bustling holiday periods, usually spans from late April to early May...

Dawn Sim Culture

Golden Week: Exploring Japan's Week-Long Festiv...

What is Golden Week? Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク or 黄金週間 Ogon Shukan), recognised as one of...

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉
Sue Lynn

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Carissa Loh Nature

春暖花開:櫻花之外的六種當季花卉

賞花的樂趣之一,就是它們轉瞬即逝的特性:花期每季只有幾天,但那短暫幾天卻難忘極了。來看看六種春天當季花卉,以及賞花最佳時機!

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Than Sakura
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with spring than the beloved cherry blossom (桜 sakura). However, other than these pretty, pink blossoms,...

Carissa Loh Nature

Spring Beginnings: 6 Seasonal Flowers Other Tha...

Flowers herald the beginning of spring, and in Japan, no flower is more synonymous with...

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in April and May
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of a new beginning in many Japanese literature. | Photo by Dawn Sim   A symbol...

Dawn Sim Spring

Spring Beginnings: 7 Things to Do in Japan in A...

Cherry blossoms, or sakura, are flowers symbolic of spring, often alluded to the promise of...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other than the mesmerising cherry blossoms painting the landscape, spring is the best season to experience...

Wendy Ng Food

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Try Spring Foods in J...

Spring in Japan is a time for celebration as the season marks new beginnings. Other...

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festivals in Japan
Sue Lynn

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing with it beautiful flowers, comfortable temperatures, and a time of celebration. While most travellers head...

Carissa Loh Festival

Spring Beginnings: 6 Must-Visit Spring Festival...

Photo by cyesuta (CC BY-SA 2.0)   Spring is a season of new beginnings, bringing...

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in Japan
Sue Lynn

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich history and enduring cultural heritage, is particularly famous for its magnificent Japanese castles (お城 oshiro)....

Carissa Loh Culture

Castle Day (6 April): 10 Must-Visit Castles in ...

Matsue Castle in spring. | Photo by 島根県観光連盟 Japan, a nation celebrated for its rich...

Sakura Karinto and Marui Suzuki
Sue Lynn

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions of celebrating this season is to enjoy “ohanami” (お花見)! Ohanami means “flower-viewing”, and this is...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

Maker’s Story: Seasonal Karinto Snacks from Tok...

April marks the official arrival of spring in Japan, and one of the cherished traditions...

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the start of springtime in Japan. Spring is the prettiest and most enjoyable season with radiant...

Wendy Ng Spring

A Guide to Sakura in Tohoku: Best Cherry Blosso...

Hirosaki Castle Park | Photo by Aomori Prefecture Cherry blossoms or sakura (桜) herald the...

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of Shochu Distilleries in Miyazaki
Sue Lynn

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese drink more shochu than sake. Considered to be Japan's national spirit, Shochu is gaining great...

Wendy Ng

A Guide to Japanese Shochu: A Tasting Tour of S...

Shochu (焼酎) is one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in Japan and the Japanese...

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultural Icons
Sue Lynn

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition, Tohoku (東北), the northeastern part of Japan comprising of six prefectures – Aomori (青森), Akita...

Dawn Sim Culture

Tohoku: A Tale of Tradition through its Cultura...

Statues of the Namahage located in Oga Peninsula. | Photo by PhotoAC Steeped in tradition,...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from Northeast Japan
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you can unearth more culinary treasures spread throughout the country if you venture into the less...

Wendy Ng Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Try Food from North...

Japan is a food paradise and beyond the major cities and well-trodden travel routes, you...

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots in Tokyo for Ohanami
Sue Lynn

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you have witnessed the enchanting sight of cherry blossoms (桜 sakura) in full bloom. A cherry...

Carissa Loh Culture

Sakura 2024: 5 Must-Visit Cherry Blossom Spots ...

If you have visited Tokyo between late March and early April, then chances are you...

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from Tohoku
Sue Lynn

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six prefectures, and is a treasure trove of beautiful nature and fascinating history. It’s a wonderful...

Carissa Loh Food

Tasty Tohoku Treats: 6 Must-Buy Souvenirs from ...

Located on the north-eastern part of mainland Japan, Tohoku (東北) is made up of six...

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souvenir & Gift-Giving Culture
Sue Lynn

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably seen the colourful and beautifully packaged boxes of local confectionery filling the gift shops along...

Carissa Loh Culture

Omiyage Day (8 March): Exploring Japan's Souven...

Have you heard of omiyage (お土産)? If you’ve been to Japan, then you have probably...

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers from Akita by Kanaeya
Sue Lynn

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers...

The Tohoku Region is home to some of Japan’s best untouched nature. Take Akita as an example, a prefecture where lush landscapes meet premium rice fields. Renowned for its exceptional...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

March Maker's Story: Hand-grilled Rice Crackers...

The Tohoku Region is home to some of Japan’s best untouched nature. Take Akita as...

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from Takachiho (Winner of JR East Omiyage Grand Prix 2023 - Koshin’etsu Area Prize)
Sue Lynn

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from...

If you have been to Japan, you will understand the universal struggle of finding the perfect souvenir or omiyage (お土産) to bring home for your loved ones and colleagues. While...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

March Maker’s Story: Obuse Chestnut Snacks from...

If you have been to Japan, you will understand the universal struggle of finding the...

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival Celebrating Girls’ Day
Sue Lynn

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival...

Displaying exquisitely made hina-ningyo dressed in traditional Heian attire is the main activity associated with the Hina Matsuri | ©photoAC Have you ever heard of Japan’s Hina Matsuri (雛祭)? Otherwise known...

Dawn Sim Culture

Hina Matsuri (3 March): Japan’s Spring Festival...

Displaying exquisitely made hina-ningyo dressed in traditional Heian attire is the main activity associated with the...

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Through The Eyes of Japanese Writers
Sue Lynn

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Throug...

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, take a walk in the footsteps of literary giants and look no further than Izu Peninsula (伊豆半島), which lies just about 1-2...

Dawn Sim Travel

Inspired by Izu: Exploring Izu Peninsula Throug...

If you are a fan of Japanese literature, take a walk in the footsteps of...

Mount Fuji with tea plantation in the foreground
Sue Lynn

Mount Fuji Day (23 February): 5 Ways to Enjoy J...

Standing at 3,776m above sea level, the almost perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is Japan’s highest mountain, and has become a symbol of the country, recognised worldwide for its...

Carissa Loh Travel

Mount Fuji Day (23 February): 5 Ways to Enjoy J...

Standing at 3,776m above sea level, the almost perfectly symmetrical Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is...

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in Japan to Meet Feline Friends
Sue Lynn

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in J...

Are you a cat (猫 neko) lover? If you’ve been to Japan, you might have noticed how beloved cats are over there. Think maneki-neko (招き猫) cat figurines that beckon luck,...

Carissa Loh Culture

Happy Cat Day (22 February): 5 Cat Islands in J...

Are you a cat (猫 neko) lover? If you’ve been to Japan, you might have...

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s Day in Japan
Sue Lynn

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s ...

Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day! On 14 February, Valentine’s Day is universally celebrated across the globe where presents like chocolates, candies, and flowers are gifted...

Wendy Ng Culture

In the Mood for Love: Romancing on Valentine’s ...

Love is in the air in February with Valentine’s Day! On 14 February, Valentine’s Day...

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the Izu Peninsula
Sue Lynn

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the...

With so many captivating attractions, you can spend days exploring the Izu Peninsula with your loved one, but where to start? Here are our top five picks for romantic dating...

Carissa Loh Travel

Romance Izu in the Air: 5 Romantic Spots in the...

With so many captivating attractions, you can spend days exploring the Izu Peninsula with your...

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo”, Cafes, and the Railway Museum
Sue Lynn

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo...

Located just about half an hour north of Central Tokyo, Ōmiya Station (大宮駅 Ōmiya-eki) is the gateway to the neighbouring Saitama Prefecture (埼玉県). It is also a stop on more...

JAPANKURU Travel

A Side Trip to Saitama: Discovering “Little Edo...

Located just about half an hour north of Central Tokyo, Ōmiya Station (大宮駅 Ōmiya-eki) is...

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi by Kameya Foods
Sue Lynn

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi b...

Are you familiar with wasabi (わさび)? Made from the Wasabia japonica plant, wasabi or the Japanese horseradish is a unique spice native to Japan and is a staple in Japanese...

Sue Lynn Maker's Story

February Maker’s Story: Shizuoka-grown Wasabi b...

Are you familiar with wasabi (わさび)? Made from the Wasabia japonica plant, wasabi or the...

Winter Wonderland: 7 Snowiest Cities in Japan and Must-do Activities
Sue Lynn

Winter Wonderland: 7 Snowiest Cities in Japan a...

Winter season in Japan boasts some of its most amazing and picturesque sceneries, especially in regions lying alongside the Sea of Japan (日本海), otherwise known as Yukiguni (雪国), or Snow...

Dawn Sim Festival

Winter Wonderland: 7 Snowiest Cities in Japan a...

Winter season in Japan boasts some of its most amazing and picturesque sceneries, especially in...

Winter Wonders: 8 Winter Foods & Delicacies to Enjoy in Japan
Sue Lynn

Winter Wonders: 8 Winter Foods & Delicacies to ...

Winter in Japan is not just a season to enjoy snow activities and festivals; it’s also a time to indulge in winter cuisine as Japan is blessed with bountiful harvest...

Wendy Ng Food

Winter Wonders: 8 Winter Foods & Delicacies to ...

Winter in Japan is not just a season to enjoy snow activities and festivals; it’s...

Nuts About Chiba! Exploring Chiba, Peanuts, and Setsubun Culture
Sue Lynn

Nuts About Chiba! Exploring Chiba, Peanuts, and...

Have you been to Chiba Prefecture (千葉県)? Located in the Kanto Region and neighbouring Tokyo on its east, perhaps, unknowingly, you have already stepped foot into Chiba Prefecture. If you...

Carissa Loh Culture

Nuts About Chiba! Exploring Chiba, Peanuts, and...

Have you been to Chiba Prefecture (千葉県)? Located in the Kanto Region and neighbouring Tokyo...

More Than Just Disneyland! Exploring Hidden Gems in Every Corner of Chiba
Sue Lynn

More Than Just Disneyland! Exploring Hidden Gem...

Looking for a short getaway from the bustling crowds of Tokyo? Look no further than the prefecture of Chiba (千葉県). Contrary to the popular belief that “There is nothing much...

Dawn Sim Travel

More Than Just Disneyland! Exploring Hidden Gem...

Looking for a short getaway from the bustling crowds of Tokyo? Look no further than...