Akashi Castle 明石城
Founder Ogasawara Tadazane
Year 1619
Type Hilltop
Condition Other Buildings
Alternate Name Kishun-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles, Important Cultural Properties
Historical Artifacts Important Cultural Properties:
Tatsumi Yagura, Hitsujisaru Yagura
Location Akashi, Hyogo Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Akashi Sta (San'yo Line), 5 min walk
Website Akashi Park
Visited November 14, 2009

Ogasawara Tadazane (former lord of Matsumoto), moved into the area in 1617. In 1619, under the orders of Tokugawa Hidetada he built Akashi Castle in just one year for the purposes of watching over the Western lords and building up the Tokugawa defenses in the region. He accomplished building this castle in so little time mainly because he used materials from castles in the area that were decomissioned under the one castle per country law of 1615.

The castle deftly makes use of the natural terrain in a 3 tiered castle compound. Ogasawara's father-in-law Honda Tadamasa, who also directed the construction of Himeji Castle, assisted with the construction of Akashi castle. Even though they build a large foundation for a large main keep, no main keep was ever built. In it's place the honmaru had 4 large 3 story yagura, two of which are still standing today.

Eventually, Ogasawara Tadazane was moved to Kokura Castle and the lordship of Akashi Castle changed hands several times until it was taken over by Matsudaira Naoakira in 1682. The Matsudaira continued to ruled until the coming of the Meiji Restoration.

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  • ART    April 16, 2017 at 08:30 PM
    I have been here many times, because I lived just outside of Akashi for a year as an exchange student. After several years I came back armed with a lot more castle know-how and my camera. I made a thorough inspection of Akashijō, not just the two Edo Period yagura (turrets) for which it is known, but also its many baileys and ishigaki. It really is an expansive site and I was there for a couple of hours until it became too dark to continue exploring the park. The Ishigaki here are really fantastic. The yagura were closed but I had been inside one of them when I lived here and remembered it well. Finally after these interceding years I feel like I have explored this castle completely. Akashijō has many stone walls, a moat, many baileys, and surviving historical buildings, so it is a great site. Opposite the castle entrance is also a relocated historical Nagayamon (Row House Gate).
  • Lampshade    January 24, 2017 at 12:27 AM
    Ah, I didn't see them! At least I can add it to my list of excuses to go back ;)
  • ART    January 08, 2017 at 09:41 PM
    Lampshade, you can also see Hanakuma Castle ruins on that Line (Tokaido Honsen), between Motomachi and Nishi-Motomachi stations. http://jcastle.com/castle/profile/636-Hanakuma-Castle
  • Lampshade on My Page    January 05, 2017 at 12:05 AM
    I actually only saw this castle from the train (not shinkansen) passing by. The first time I was squashed against the door window a while past sunset, the train was packed full, and the turrets were lighted up bright and were very clear even in the dark. The second time I was going the other way, towards Kobe, it still looked very white and much longer in the daylight. Taking the express is actually a pretty good way to do some, well, express sightseeing of Kobe. You can easily see Akashi Castle, Akashi-Kaikyo (on clear days), Kobe Tower, Mt.Rokko and the ropeway, the Tetsujin Statue, etc.
  • kiddus_i2003 on My Page    April 04, 2014 at 10:53 PM
    The little castle that should be. I wish that this could be restored as the area that is park now would look great with a castle behind those great walls.
  • RaymondW on My Page    May 13, 2012 at 08:35 PM
    I finally feel that I have done Akashi Castle properly after four visits. It was third time lucky last month before I was able to get inside one of the original yaguras (turrets). Tatsumi Yagura is open to the public on weekends in April, June, and October. I had to come back today to get inside Hitsujisaru Yagura, which is open to the public on weekends in March, May, September, and November. The volunteers who work there told us the other months are either too cold or hot to keep the turrets open. Given they sit outside the turrets, that is completely understandable. Inside the Hitsujisaru Yagura is a model of Akashi Castle and its surrounding castle town during the Edo Period. From the front as seen from JR Akashi Station, both Tatsumi Yagura and Hitsujisaru Yagura look roughly about the same size, but Hitsujisaru Yagura is actually a little larger and wider if seen from its north-south profile. It is roughly 1.5 times wider according to the volunteer guide at the Tatsumi Yagura last month. The volunteer guide today at the Hitsujisaru Yagura told us that Akashi Castle originally had 20 yaguras with four three-storey yaguras. According to one of the castle books that I have, some of these yaguras were built with materials taken from other castles such Funage Castle (Tatsumi Yagura), Fushimi Castle (Hitsujisaru Yagura), Takasago Castle, and Edayoshi Castle. There is also a Yakuimon-style gate from Fushimi Castle, which was first relocated to Akashi Castle before it was moved to Geshouji Temple in 1874. Having been inside both the original yaguras now, which are simple mini-museums with exhibits of original tiles (in the Hitsujisaru Yagura), explanations about the history of the castle (in both yaguras), and some replica castle maps, this castle site certainly deserves a solid 3.5 stars. If the upper floors of the yaguras were open to the public and there was an English pamphlet available (for purchase), then this could be bumped up to a four star site. Yes, from the train station, it does not look that special, but it does have lots of impressive stone walls, moats, and two original yaguras. Both the yaguras are constructed mainly from pine, and the volunteer guides are friendly and knowledgeable.
  • rebolforces on My Page    May 21, 2011 at 07:25 PM
    Park ok, close to station. More of a facade than a castle.
  • furinkazan on My Page    October 28, 2010 at 02:50 AM
    Two days ago i went to this castle. The turrets are nice and indeed the walls are impressive. Sadly the weather was very bad, so i couldn't appreciate to the fullest the site. I think with beautiful weather i would have stayed longer in the parc, which is very nice for a stroll. I appreciated the pontoon they have built behind the wall. It gives you almost the position of a shooter over the wall(such devices were installed at some castles during sieges, that's why some of the firing holes are very low. The men below had to kneel for firing their weapons). It is very difficult to take a nice picture from the JR station. There are some electric cables hanging in between.
  • kyushudan    December 12, 2009 at 09:04 AM
    Unfortunately, both turrets were well shut. I'll be doing some research before my next trip here, that's for sure.
  • Eric    December 07, 2009 at 10:07 PM
    No, only Hitsujisaru was open and the upstairs was roped off too. Was it open when you were there?
  • kyushudan    December 07, 2009 at 04:35 PM
    This is definitely one of my favourite castles. And in my opinion, as good as Marugame & Uwajima castles put together. Great pics. Were you free to go to the top of the Hitsujisaru turret? And, was the other turret open too?
  • Raymond    August 09, 2009 at 08:53 PM
    I often pass this castle on my way to other castles like Himeji Castle and Okayama Castle. However, I finally decided to drop in and suss it out yesterday. It's a pretty decent castle to visit. There is no castle keep, but in lieu of that there are two original three-storey towers to see. The stone base of the castle keep is located very close to the Hitsujisaru Yagura. Both the yaguras were not open to the public when I was there, so I could not see the inside. There are plenty of stone walls, ponds, and a water moat left, but there are no surviving gates or other buildings within the castle grounds. Access to Akashi Castle is very easy. It is just opposite the JR Akashi Station. Like many lesser known castles in Japan, this place is fairly free of tourists. Entry is free.
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Akashi, Hyogo Pref.
Akashi Castle views
Hitsujisaru Yagura and Tatsumi Yagura Hitsujisaru Yagura
Hitsujisaru Yagura Hitsujisaru yagura
Inside of the Hitsujisaru Yagura. Tatsumi Yagura
Tatsumi Yagura Tatsumi Yagura
Tatsumi Yagura Tatsumi Yagura and stone walls
stone walls stone walls
sakura moat and stone walls Nagayamon gate