Setting on the shores of Japan’s largest lake, Biwa, lies one of the most beautiful and historic castles in Japan. For the past 400 years, the castle remained as the most important cultural property in Shiga Prefecture since it was designated as a National Treasure in 1952.
THE STORY BEHIND JAPAN’S BEST PRESERVED CASTLES
The Hikone Castle is considered a national masterpiece that bears the priceless treasures of the Ii family. After 20 years of construction, the castle was completed in 1922 with the help of Ii Naokatsu, the son of Ii Naomasa. It was completed using the construction using some materials from the nearby Nagahama Castle.
WHAT TO EXPECT AROUND HIKONE CASTLE
Just like any other castles around Japan, the grounds of this castle are popular cherry blossom spot during spring. The Hikone Castle features various architectural styles and the whole area is full of cherry trees. So you have an idea, sakura blossoms season is the best time to visit the castle.
In addition to that, during spring time approximately 1200 trees with a total of eight varieties of cherry all bloom at once. Just imagine what a fabulous view would that be, especially when illuminated at night.
HIKONE CITY MASCOT PERFORMANCE
The castle also host a performance from the Hikone City mascot Hikonyan three times a day, you might want to enjoy the show while at your stay.
MUSEUM WITH II CLAN’S MEMORABILIA
In the castle grounds, you can view reconstructed buildings from the feudal area. There is a museum where you can view some treasures and relics of the Ii family and their way of living. The exhibits show the clan’s treasures including arms and armor, kimono, music instruments and other documents.
GARDEN AND TEA
Just around the corner, you can find the scenic beauty of the Genkyuen garden. This is built around a large, ornamental pond in Chinese style. In this area, you can sit around and enjoy a cup of tea and other traditional sweets.
If you want the best feels during your trip, then you should stay until the night. When illuminated with moonlight, the view of the Hikone Castle is one of the Eight View of Lake Biwa.
ACCESS TO HIKONE CASTLE
The Hikone Castle opens from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM and has an admission fee of 500 yen for adults and 600 yen for Hikone Castle/Museum ticket and 1000 yen for a combined Hikone castle/Genkyu Garden/Hikone Museum pass.
From Nagoya Staition, take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Maibara Station and then transfer to the JR Tokaido Line one stop to Hikone or alternatively take the JR Tokaido Line to Mabaira via Gifu and Ogaki.