Takeda Castle 竹田城跡
Japan's Machu Picchu is a castle floating in a sea of clouds
Known as the castle in the sky, Takeda Castle is in Asago City in the center of Hyogo Prefecture . The castle was built in 1441 and abandoned in the early 17th century shortly after the pivotal Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. The ruins, restored in the 1970s and '80s, stand magnificently at the top of a mountain.
- The floating castle at sunrise in October and November when a sea of clouds gathers around the mountain
- The Ritsuunkyo viewing spots affording spectacular views of the castle grounds
How to Get There
The closest station is Takeda Station, located at the base of the mountain on which the castle stands.
Takeda Station is most easily accessed via Himeji Station to the south. From there, take the JR Bantan Line to Takeda Station. To the north, Takeda Station connects to Kinosaki Onsen . From Takeda Station, the castle is a 40-minute walk or a 20-minute bus ride.
The Machu Picchu of Japan
Takeda Castle is sometimes referred to as the Machu Picchu of Japan. The fortress was constructed in 1441 by Otagaki Mitsukage, who became lord of the castle shortly after its completion. The castle was conquered by Hideyoshi Toyotomi in the late 16th century during his unification conquest of Japan. Akamatsu Hirohide was the castle's final lord, and though he fought on the winning side with Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Battle of Sekigahara, he committed ritual suicide after being accused of arson. The castle was abandoned shortly after.
A castle in the sky
On foggy mornings, the castle appears to be floating in the sky when viewed from neighboring mountains, as the lower portion of the mountain disappears into the clouds. The best time to see the phenomenon is around sunrise during October and November, though it only occurs on one in every three mornings on average. The phenomenon is known as unkai in Japanese, which translates to "the sea of clouds."
For the best view, head to the observation decks on Ritsuunkyo, the mountain opposite. There is no public transport to Ritsuunkyo, but there is a car park next to the trailhead. The car park is a 10-minute drive or 45-minute walk from central Asago City.
Few buildings but magnificent walls
The main buildings of the castle no longer stand, but the castle's stone ramparts have been restored and well maintained. The castle has a central fortress and three extension wings. A one-way trail allows visitors access to all parts of the castle. Viewpoints scattered around the castle grounds offer sights of the neighboring mountains and the town.
Even without unkai, the castle is an impressive feature, and the grounds of the castle are expansive. Due to its impressive location, several scenes from the Kurosawa movie "Kagemusha" were filmed at the castle.
At the base of the mountain close to Takeda Station sit a series of old temples that are associated with the castle. These were originally used as the first line of defense in times of war.