Azuchi Castle 安土城
Founder Oda Nobunaga
Oda
Year 1576
Type Hilltop
Condition Ruins
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site Special Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Azuchi, Shiga Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Azuchi Station (JR Tokaido Line)
Website Shiga Tourism - Azuchi Castle Ruins
Visited February 21, 2004; November 26, 2011
Notes 安土城は本当に素晴らしいです。発掘調査によって、石垣が見事に再現されています。2004年に訪れた時から山の麓にある石垣が全部整備されました。この山でまだ行けない石垣や城跡もたくさんあるようなので、その内に他の部分と同じように整備して欲しいですね。建物等はありませんが、城跡の広大さや整備の状況から四つ星にしました。お城ファンは訪れるべき城です。
History By 1575 Nobunaga had become the most powerful samurai in the country. He turned over control of the Owari & Mino provinces to his eldest son Nobutada and set his own eyes on the unification of all Japan. In 1576, Nobunaga established his new castle and power base at Azuchi on Lake Biwa. This was a very strategic location in that it gave him significant control over the nearby Tokaida and Nakasendo roads to Kyoto and any traffic on Lake Biwa.

It took 3.5 years to complete the main keep and entire castle. Unfortunately, the castle was short lived. After Nobunaga was killed by Akechi Mitsuhide in 1582 at Honnoji Temple, Azuchi Castle was burned to the ground in a battle between Nobunaga's second son Nobukatsu and Akechi's men who had taken over the castle.

The construction of Azuchi Castle was a revolution in castle design and marked the turning point in a new type of castle. Until this time, most were smaller mountaintop structures that were only used as a lookout or as needed. Nobunaga's Azuchi castle led the way for the larger and more grand structures of the late Sengoku Period and Early Edo Period turning castles in to quarters for the daimyo and some retainers.

The main keep itself was 7 stories high and thought to have been the largest multi-storied wooden building in the world at that time. The fifth floor of the main keep was an octagon representing heaven and the quadrangular sixth floor represented the thoughts of Taoism and Confucianism.

The picture above is of the Ote-michi entrance through to the castle. Along either side were houses of loyal retainers.

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  • furinkazan    May 24, 2017 at 11:10 PM
    I forgot to mention that there's a fee of 700¥ for entering the castle grounds. I didn’t saw it in the other comments.
  • furinkazan on My Page    May 24, 2017 at 11:04 PM
    This morning the rain dripped a little bit, but stopped when i arrived at Azuchi station. There is still only one exit at this station but they're doing a complete overhaul of it. Of what i could see, there will be 2 exits in the near future. Exiting the station, i went left to go under the railtracks and go to the Azuchi castle museum. They have a very impressive model(scale 1/20) of the keep of the castle. This model can be opened to show the interior. Not to miss. I went back in front of the station to rent a bicycle. In the first shop there was nobody, so i went to the one right from the station. The fee to rent a bicycle depends on the time you'll use it. When i told the old man where i was going, he guessed i needed 5 hours, so the prize was set at 1000¥. Actually i used it a bit longer than that and i had to pay 300¥ more. Ok, it's a little bit at the high end, but the old man gave me 3 maps. On the first one he told me the complete route for the sites i wanted to go. The second one was that of Azuchijô. Here again he showed me the route. The last one was for Kannonjijô. He was very helpful. The ruins of Azuchijô are impressive, but the access beyond the honmaru is still fenced off.(sorry RaymondW). After the castle i went to the Saga Prefectural Archeological museum. There are very nice artifacts, but especially several models of different castles.The fee is 1180¥, but then you have access to the museum of 'The house of Nobunaga'. I highly recommend to visit this facility. Inside is the reconstruction of the last 2 levels of the tenshukaku of Azuchijô. It was made using the old techniques. There is also a VR video of about 15min. This was amazing. You make the visit of the castle in presence of Luis Frois. I was stunned by the beauty of this video. You see that the hill of Azuchijô was almost completely surrounded by water, in those days. From there i went on to Kannonjijô.
  • ART    December 25, 2016 at 06:20 PM
    There are like 3 Azuchi Castle museums. I ignored the 安土城資料館 (Azuchi castle information center, 200 yen) next to the station, looked sparse although the building is nice. I went to the 安土城考古博物館 (Azuchi castle archeological museum). It was good with interesting models but no photography is permitted plus many of the exhibits focus on the kofun period (there is a kofun nearby, i went, just a hill with a path). The last place i went was the 安土城天主信長の館 (Azuchi castle heavenly lord Nobunaga hall) where they have a full scale replica of the top two floors of the castle tower and virtual reality screenings of how the castle used to look. I was well impressed.
  • Eric    December 10, 2016 at 08:37 PM
    Thanks. Link updated.
  • furinkazan    December 02, 2016 at 02:31 AM
    The link is broken. I found this link : http://en.biwako-visitors.jp/spot/detail/157
  • Dick H    April 25, 2014 at 07:34 AM
    On a bus between Toba and the Ise Grand Shrines I saw a castle high on a hilltop. I found out it is the ISE AZUCHI MOMOYAMA BUNKAMURA and it is described as a 1:1 replica of Azuchi Castle. Although it is not a real castle it may be of interest since it is an accurate replica of a real castle.
  • RaymondW    October 14, 2012 at 09:40 PM
    Made it to Azuchi Castle for another re-visit today. They have been busy since my last visit almost a year ago. More undergrowth have been cleared from some of the lower ishigaki to the right on the Otemichi (main road) up the castle. Some undergrowth have also been cleared from some of the Ninomaru ishigaki. Now, only if they would open up the Sannomaru and other sections of the castle ruin to the public.
  • a22cricket    June 14, 2011 at 11:50 PM
    RaymondW, went to the museums nearby. They were great. I'm surprised this area doesn't get more attention from tourists.
  • RaymondW    June 11, 2011 at 03:53 PM
    a22cricket, did you go to the Azuchi Castle Museum just across from JR Azuchi Station? The staff is pretty helpful there, and you can pick up an info pack about Azuchi Castle (in Japanese only) for 200 yen. Within the pack is a small map of Kannonji Castle, too.
  • a22cricket    June 05, 2011 at 11:38 PM
    Spent June 5th, 2011 here for the Oda Nobunaga festival. It's held on the first Sunday every June and the town puts on a parade, arquebus demonstrations, feasts, tea ceremony, etc., etc. Fun weekend and still a great trip. One of the best sites on Lake Biwa.
  • a22cricket on My Page    May 16, 2011 at 06:52 PM
    Read "Taiko" by Eiji Yoshikawa which is about castle warfare and Hideyoshi Toyotomi and saw a lot of references to Azuchi. Great ruins and museums. The book is great as well although not as good as Yoshikawa's "Musashi".
  • thomasV    March 25, 2011 at 06:28 PM
    Currently writing my master's dissertation about Azuchi Castle. It's fascinating to trace down it's history and the people who helped with the construction. Top class castle!
  • RaymondW on My Page    March 01, 2011 at 08:58 PM
    I went to Azuchi Castle Ruin first before making it over to Kannonji Castle Ruin on the last weekend of February. This is my fourth visit to this castle ruin, so I decided just to ride around the base of the hill and suss out the parts that I have not seen nor are regularly visited. If you are going to rent a bicycle, ride around the area a little, and you will see some of the canals lined with ishigaki created in the days of Oda Nobunaga. Also, go past the big Azuchi Castle sign on the main road heading towards Hikone. First, you will see the remnants of some kind of water moat (more like a pond now) and a bit of ishigaki. Go a bit further, and you will see an open space and a set of steps leading into the bush. Go up the steps, and you will find some ishigaki of some of the lower eastern baileys. They are heavily overgrown with bamboo and other trees.
  • Alamo6400    January 07, 2011 at 11:16 AM
    I love azuchi castle because it is ruled by one of my favorite daimyo oda nobunaga it is rated 1 on my account because azuchi castle shows the power of the oda clan and oda nobunaga azuchi castle is built on omi province shiga prefecture there is another castle in omi province odani castle .odani castle was ruled by old and dead by that time azai nagamasa died at the battle of anegawa
  • furinkazan    October 21, 2010 at 07:43 PM
    Actually i didn't went to this castleruins, but several days earlier i was at the Ise Azuchi-Momoyama Bunka mura, aka. Ise Wonderland. This is a recreational parc and it has a reconstruction in concrete of the Azuchicastle. The entrance to the parc is 2500yen and 500yen more to enter the castle. In the castle are some puppets recreating some of the important stages of Oda Nobunaga's life. You may pay also 3900yen to access everything, as well as the theaters. I assisted to one of them, but everything is in japanese.
  • John    June 21, 2010 at 06:22 AM
    Hmm... octagonal 6th floor on the donjon, you say. Must have been an unsuccessful expirement as it was never repeated.
  • Admin    March 25, 2010 at 01:52 PM
    No, I really need to. it's on my to-do list. Maybe when the new video rental store opens up down my street...
  • Arip    March 22, 2010 at 12:15 PM
    Have you watched the Katen No Shiro Movie? It's the story of Azuchi Castle construction process.. You can download it at http://aezone.net
  • Anonymous    March 09, 2009 at 08:18 AM
    Lisa,I don't know where you are now. I went to and stayed at Hkone with my wife on Feb 15. The hotel we stayed was faced to the castle moat. The staffs are kind. You can visit Azuchi ruins within 30 minutes by local train. Have a nice tour! Kai,Kitakyushu-city
  • Anonymous    January 27, 2009 at 04:26 AM
    This castle is very interesting
  • webmaster    November 23, 2008 at 11:51 AM
    Agreed. Look for hotels in Hikone. There should be several hotels with English websites and it's just a couple stops away by train. You can visit Hikone Castle too and there is a variety of things to do in Hikone too.
  • Raymond    November 22, 2008 at 08:18 AM
    Lisa, I am not the guy who runs this wonderful website, but I live in Shiga and have been to Azuchi Castle Ruins a couple of times. There isn't much around JR Azuchi Station. Your best bet for finding a hotel would be in Kusatsu, Hikone, or perhaps Omi-hachiman, one station from Azuchi. The first two places, which are also on the same JR line, are around 15 to 20 minutes from Azuchi. Why not stay in Hikone City and visit both Hikone Castle (an original castle) and Azuchi Castle Ruins? My two yens' worth.
  • Lisa    November 22, 2008 at 04:46 AM
    I don't know if anyone is still updating this site but if so i need to know what hotels are nearby to this castle. My research brings up sites that i can't read and the information is required for a class project. Any help?
  • austin Lewis    October 14, 2008 at 10:41 PM
    whoa!!!! really!!!! dude i'm REALLY jelous he's my heroe
  • Tommy Jackson    June 18, 2008 at 12:08 PM
    i have yet to go here , i really want to though. Oda Nobunaga was my ancestor on my grandma's dad's side of the family
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Azuchi, Shiga Pref.
Azuchi Castle views
Ote entrance Entrance at the foot of the mountain
entrance at the base of the mounatin stone walls around the mountain
masugata entrance Stone walls near the Otemon Entrance
Stone walls near the Otemon Entrance Stone walls near the Otemon entrance
Stone walls of Maeda Toshiie's palace Stone walls of Ieyasu's palace
Remains of Hashiba Hideyoshi's palace Hideyoshi's palace drawing
stone walls of Hideyoshi and Tokugawa's palaces. Remains of Hideyoshi's palace
Otemichi Road Path to the Kuroganemon Gate
Kuroganemon gate Stone walls of the Ninomaru
Stone walls of the Ninomaru Stone walls near the Ninomaru
Kuroganemon Gate stone walls Ninomaru stone walls
Honmaru (?) stone walls Main keep entrance
Stone walls near the Sannomaru Sannomaru stone walls
Sannomaru stone walls Honmaru entrance stone walls
Honmaru stone walls Entrance to the main keep
Entrance to the main keep main keep foundation
View from the main keep foundation Honmaru stone walls
Route to the Sokenji Temple Route to the Sokenji Temple
Three story pagoda Route to the Sokenji Temple
Map