Hikone Castle
 

Completed in 1622 by the Ii family, who ruled over Hikone, this castle is considered to be one of the finest remaining castles in Japan. Boasting some of the most spectucular local scenery a castle can offer (having more than 1000 cherry trees surrounding it and possessing a fabulous view of Lake Biwa-ko), the castle is only a few hours away from my hometown of Wakayama.

As luck would have it, I already had a friend in Hikone. Her name is Naoko and I met her on a plane going back to the US about five months before.
The Donjon

Lake Biwa-ko is the largest freshwater lake in all of Japan and covers most of Shiga Prefecture. The lake is lined by small towns that specialize in certain crafts (such as glass-blowing and music-box making) on one side and the mountains on the other.


While not as grand as Himeji or Matsumoto Castles, I think Hikone is the most enjoyable to visit in terms of environment. The scenery and it's Japanese gardens are the most excellent of all the Japanese castles I've visited.

The Donjon as seen from Taiko-mon Tower

Here is the original layout of Hikone Castle. As with most Japanese castles, parts of it have fallen to ruin or were destroyed during the Meiji Restoration, but most of the castle as it stands today is in it's original condition. Click on the picture for a blown-up version!

There are several bridges like this one leading to and away from the main donjon complex. The stonework here is as impressive as that at Matsumoto or Himeji.
Tenbin Tower

 

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