Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hikone Castle

Due to the huge snafu with our flight at the start of the trip, the walk to Hikone Castle, scheduled for the first full day spent in Japan, was canceled. As the days passed by and no plans to visit the castle as a class were announced, I was afraid that we wouldn't get the chance to see it (well, other than seeing the castle from the classroom window). Yesterday (Friday), Steph, myself, and five other classmates decided to go to Hikone Castle after class was adjourned for the day.

We took the 3:15 shuttle bus (free for JCMU students) downtown to the train station and we were pleased to find that the castle was a rather short walk from there. On the way, we stopped to pay our respects and take photographs at a small Shinto shrine.

Shinto Shrine

The admission fee to the castle grounds was 600 yen per person -- definitely worth it. I think it's stationed at the highest point in the city, which, well, makes complete sense. Hikonyan, the official mascot of Hikone Castle and Hikone as a whole, was there to greet us.


We climbed many stairs during the course of the visit... the least-scary were the stone ones outside, and the most terrifying were the very steep steps inside the castle (it was a lot like climbing a ladder, really).


The castle was most impressive, and nothing at all like European castles. The outside had minimal ornamentation -- except for on the roof, of course -- and the inside was mostly wood and very simple. I liked it quite a bit.

Hikone Castle

The view from the castle was amazing: the city of Hikone, surrounded by very-green mountains, and of course, Lake Biwa. The birds of prey (hawks? Eagles?) that we've seen circling around town were soaring by, screeching.

View From Hikone Castle

We regrouped and made it back to the bus stop for the last shuttle of the night. In all, it was a good afternoon trip, and I'm glad we finally managed to visit Hikone Castle!


  1. Reading this is making me REALLY want to visit Japan. D:

  2. If you ever get the opportunity, GOGOGO. It's amazing... Japan is nothing like how it's portrayed in America (in the U.S., Japan = weird stuff, but it's totally not like that). I'm really, really enjoying it here. If it weren't for the language barrier, I'd totally live here. I particularly like the region of Japan we're in, which is more rural than, say, Tokyo.