Ako Castle 赤穂城
The castle of the legendary and tragic 47 ronin
Ako Castle is perhaps best known for its association with the story of the 47 ronin (masterless samurai), who in 1702 avenged the death of their lord, the Daimyo of Ako Castle, by killing Yoshinaka Kira, a master of ceremonies at the Japanese court. Kira had publicly humiliated their lord, leading to his retaliation and forced suicide. After the assassination, the ronin were also ordered to commit ritual suicide.
The castle is a nationally designated Historic Site, and its gardens are a Place of Scenic Beauty
The castle is frequently used as backdrop in films, especially those based on the telling of the 47 ronin
How to Get There
Ako Castle is a 15-minute walk from Bansh-Ako Station on the Ako Line, which has train services to Okayama City and Himeji.
Local buses connect Banshu-Ako Station to Ako Castle.
A castle without a keep
Ako Castle was completed in 1648, and the castle's stone walls and turrets stand in good condition to this day. Despite intentions, the keep was never built at Ako Castle since permission was denied by the Tokugawa regime. However, the foundations of the keep were built, and they stand to this day.
Within the grounds of the castle are the delightful Ninomaru Gardens and Oishi Shrine, dedicated to the leader of the 47 ronin, Yoshio Oishi. The shrine hosts an annual festival on December 14 to commemorate the day of the 47 ronins' revenge on Kira.
The castle is notable for its cherry blossoms in spring and its meandering moats. The castle was originally located next to the sea, and boats could set sail from the port within the castle walls, but land reclamation projects mean the castle is now located several blocks from the sea.