Most viewed - Hikone Castle 彦根城
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Statue of Lord Ii Naomasa (井伊 直政 1561-1602 ) in front of JR Hikone Station in 2007.473 views
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Cross section of Hikone Castle.218 views
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Come in the early morning and see Hikone Castle's moat water give a mirror reflection of the cherry blossoms. It's really beautiful on a sunny morning.180 views
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Koedo Hikone NPO started operating "yakata-bune" Japanese-style boats in the moats of Hikone Castle as a tourist attraction for the castle's 400th anniversary in 2007. They operate 6 rides per day around the castle, taking 50 min.153 viewsBoat landing for the Hikone-jo Ohori Meguri boat ride. Near the entrance to Genkyu-en Garden. They operate "yakata-bune" Japanese-style boats as a tourist attraction.
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Hikone Castle's main tower is said to be originally the castle tower for Otsu Castle whose lord was Kyogoku Takatsugu. It was moved here in 1606. This main tower is designated as a National Treasure.144 views
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Although it was a military fortress, Hikone Castle never saw battle and was mainly a symbol of authority.139 views
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Hikone Castle moat and cherry blossoms.114 views
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Naomasa's son Naokatsu was still an infant when Naomasa died. So Naomasa chief retainer consulted with Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and it was decided to build a new castle at the present location. Construction started in 1603.101 views
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During June 2008 to March 2010, the castle celebrated the 150th anniversary of Lord Ii Naosuke and the opening of Japan.100 views
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Scale model of Hikone Castle in the latter 18th and early 19th century.97 views
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Since the construction of Hikone Castle was designated as a national project by the Tokugawa government, as many as 12 daimyo lords were ordered to assist in the construction.87 views
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Hiko-nyan, the official mascot for Hikone Castle's 400th anniversary in 2007. He proven to be so popular that he has been retained as the city's official mascot. Basically a white cat with a horned samurai helmet. ひこにゃん86 viewsOne of the most famous mascots in Japan.
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Hikone Byobu folding screen is a National Treasure and exhibited for a few weeks in April-May. Read more here82 views
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Cherry blossoms, castle moat, and Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.81 views
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In 1606, the 1st and 2nd phases of Hikone Castle's construction were completed. The tenshu castle tower was also completed and Naokatsu moved in. This is the Castle moat and Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.81 views
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Inside Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.80 views
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Originally built in 1622, the Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret is designated as an Important Cultural Property by the Japanese government. Part of it was rebuilt in 1960.80 views
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Hikone Castle is one of five main castle towers in Japan designated as a National Treasure. The others are Himeji, Matsumoto, Matsue, and Inuyama Castles.78 views
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Entrance to castle. The ticket office is where you pay castle admission. You can also buy a ticket set which includes admission to Genkyuen Garden (recommended). Open 8:30 am to 5 pm.76 views
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My 34-min. comprehensive English video about Hikone Castle, Genkyuen Garden, and autumn festivals. 76 views
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The left building is an Important Cultural Property rebuilt in 1771. It has a corner turret on the left end and we used to be able to enter it through a side entrance from behind. 75 views
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Umaya Horse Stable. The only castle in Japan to have a large horse stable intact. The L-shaped building originally extended further toward Omotemon Bridge. 74 views
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Ii Naosuke's portrait painted by Kano Eigaku (狩野永岳). He wrote the poem above the painting offered to Seiryoji temple in Hikone. 74 views
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Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret. This turret is said to have formerly been the tenshu castle tower of Odani Castle in Nagahama. 西の丸三重櫓73 views
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Kadomatsu decoration for New Year's. Hikone Castle Museum is in the background. During New Year's, they served free hot ama-zake (sweet sake) to all visitors.72 views
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Map of Hikone Castle as it is today.72 views
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Ii clan samurai armor and helmet. Remember this helmet because it also appears on Hikone's official mascot Hiko-nyan (photos below).72 views
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Scale model of Hikone Castle in Kaikoku Kinenkan museum.72 views
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Entrance to Hikone Castle Museum. A reconstruction of the castle palace completed in 1987 to mark Hikone city's 50th anniversary. Admission charged.70 views
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From the Iroha pine tree road, you will see this Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.70 views
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Map of Hikone. Hikone Castle is famous as being only one of five castles in Japan designated as a National Treasure. The tenshu castle tower is original, and you can enter it to get a good idea of what a real castle looked like.70 views
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Behind the Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.68 views
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Castle moat and Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret. Hikone Castle was home to a total of 14 Ii lords until Ii Naosuke. The Ii family remained close to the Tokugawa and the family head traditionally served as the Tokugawa government's Chief Minist68 views
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Ceiling of Hikone Castle tower.67 views
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Hikone's official mascot Hiko-nyan appears three times daily for a 30-min. show: 10:30 am and 1:30 pm in front of the main castle tower (tenshu) and at 3:00 pm outside Hikone Castle Museum.67 viewsAccording to legend, one day, Ii Naotaka, the third lord of Hikone Castle, was doing falconry in Tokyo and was near a temple when he saw this cat raising its paw. He was led inside the temple where he was able to rest inside. A major thunderstorm ensued, and the cat saved him from getting wet.
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Welcome to Hikone, best known for Hikone Castle and mascot Hiko-nyan. At JR Hikone Station, this photo of official mascot Hikonyan greets you. Map67 views
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Steps leading to Taikomon Gate. Before that, you can pay to have tea under the red umbrella front of the tea house and Time-Keeping Bell.66 views
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Umaya Horse Stable (Important Cultural Property).65 views
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Inside Umaya Horse Stable, open to the public for the 400th anniversary onward in 2007.65 views
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Omotezaka Path to castle tower. Not good for wheel chairs or those who don't like to climb stairs.65 views
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At the intersection, straight ahead is Gokoku Shrine (護国神社) dedicated to Shiga's war dead. You can go through the shrine or turn left toward Hikone Castle.64 views
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Finally you see the main castle tower or Tenshukaku. Hikone Castle was completed in 1622 after 20 years of construction by Lord Ii Naotsugu who started building the caslte in 1603 upon his deceased father Naomasa's wish.64 views
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In front of Hikone Station, welcome banners for Hikone Castle's 400th anniversary in 2007 surround a statue of Ii Naomasa.63 views
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View of castle grounds as seen from Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret. The Umaya Horse Stable is on the right.63 views
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View from castle tower, Takeshima in Lake Biwa. Takeshima is a small island near Hikone. 多景島 Photos here.63 views
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Behind the rebuilt Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret, now the Kaikoku Kinenkan museum.62 views
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Rokabashi Bridge (廊下橋) goes to the Tenbin Yagura (天秤櫓) whose stone wall differs between the left and right.62 views
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Inside the Kaikoku Kinenkan museum in 2007, the castle's 400th anniversary.62 views
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The tenbin Yagura turret is said to have come from Nagahama Castle. (Important Cultural Property) 天秤櫓61 views
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Omotemon Bridge61 views
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Omotemon Bridge and Gate 表門61 views
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Photography is allowed only in this room of the museum.61 views
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Where Hiko-nyan's helmet design came from.60 views
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Ceiling structure inside Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.59 views
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The Hikone Castle Museum replicated the daimyo's living quarters that included this tea ceremony room.59 views
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Time-Keeping Bell. The bell was recast in 1844. 時報鐘 - Jihosho. Next to the bell is a tea house called Choshoan. The 13th lord of the castle, Ii Naosuke was a diligent practitioner of the tea ceremony.59 viewsThe famous phrase "Ichigo Ichie" (One Encounter, One Chance) was coined by him in a tea ceremony book titled "Chanoyu Ichie-shu" (茶の湯一会集).
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Iroha-matsu pine tree and sakura59 views
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Hikone Castle was built with many structures and materials transferred other Shiga castles such as Otsu Castle, Nagahama Castle, Odani Castle, Kannonji, and Sawayama Castle. This greatly reduced the cost and time required to complete the castle.58 views
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Moat as seen from Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret in spring.57 views
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The info sign also has a sticker with a QR code to be read by your compatible cell phone. You can then access the respective URL and see more information.57 views
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Being open to the public from 2008, the Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret now has a stairway on the right. (Update: This stairway is gone and the public cannot enter this turret.)56 views
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Also this garden for the daimyo.56 views
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Rear view of Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.56 views
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In 1616, the construction's 3rd phase was begun to build the castle palace. Construction was henceforth carried out by local Hikone workers without outside help. The castle construction was completed in 1622.56 views
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The Ninomaru Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura (二の丸佐和口多聞櫓) has left and right buildings that used to be connected by a bridge-like Sawaguchi Gate in the middle. A yagura was a storehouse (for weapons, etc.) that had a small watchtower or turret.55 views
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View of the Iroha road as seen from Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret.55 views
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Time-Keeping Bell or Jiho-sho. It is rung five times daily at 6:00, 9:00, 12:00 noon, 15:00, and 18:00. Also see my YouTube video here.55 views
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Corridor55 views
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Sign says Hikone Castle is one of the "Omi Hakkei" or Eight Views of Omi.55 views
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Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret and cherry blossoms. Tamon yagura were long corridor-type turrets.55 views
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Time when Hiko-nyan (Hikone's official mascot) will appear today.55 views
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The right side of the turret is now the Kaikoku Kinenkan museum.54 views
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About the Ii clan's samurai armor. It was all red.54 views
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The rear of the left-side and original Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret, before being opened to the public.53 views
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Iroha-matsu pine tree and banner.53 views
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The castle tower is not as large as Himeji or Matsumoto, but the construction on the inside is original.53 views
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Path to Taikomon Gate.52 views
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Inside Hikone Castle Museum are samurai armor exhibits.52 views
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View of the other side of the rebuilt Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret (now a museum).51 views
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The stable is in remarkable condition, and the only one in Japan existing within a castle grounds.51 views
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View from Hikone Castle tower51 views
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Sawayama Castle (佐和山城) came with the domain, but Naomasa did not like it, being outdated and the former castle of Ishida Mitsunari (石田 三成) who lost at Sekigahara.51 views
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Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret50 views
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Tenbin Yagura50 views
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Steps to Taikomon Gate.50 viewsThis is also one location where the film Idai Naru, Shurararabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) was filmed. Where Kiyoko rides her horse up the steps.
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Entrance to tower. There are a few very steep staircases. Wearing high heels and miniskirts are not recommended.50 views
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Hikone Castle has bell-shaped windows at the top.50 views
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Hikone was important as the crossroads of the Nakasendo Road (中山道) to Kyoto and Hokurikudo Road (北陸道) to the northwest. It also linked the roads to boat transportation on Lake Biwa for Kyoto.50 views
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Noh play on the Noh stage inside Hikone Castle Museum.50 views
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Banner for the 150th anniversary of Lord Ii Naosuke opening Japan to the world.49 views
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Corridor49 views
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Right side of Tenbin Yagura turret in spring with cherry blossoms.49 views
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Dummy horse in the horse stable.48 views
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Bridge to Tenbin Yagura turret48 views
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Rokabashi Bridge (廊下橋) going to the Tenbin Yagura (天秤櫓) could be demolished in case of enemy attack. Tenbin Yagura's stone wall differs between the left and right.48 views
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Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret. "Sanju" means three stories. You can see the 3-story turret and go up the 2nd and 3rd floors.48 views
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Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.48 views
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Omotemon Bridge and cherry blossoms48 views
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Scale model shows the Omote Goten Palace.48 views
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Entrance to Umaya Horse Stable. Open to the public, free admission.47 views
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During 1957 to 1960, this castle tower was disassembled and repaired.46 views
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Naomasa planned to build a new castle, but died in 1602 from an old Sekigahara gunshot wound before construction began.46 views
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View from castle tower, looking toward Nishinomaru during cherry blossoms season.45 views
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Letter written by Ii Naosuke is also displayed in the Hikone Castle Museum.45 views
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Hikone Byobu (彦根屏風) is a 17th-century National Treasure (国宝) folding screen. Painted on gold leaf, it shows a fashion-leading pleasure quarters scene in Kyoto (京都の遊里).45 views
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Site of Kannon-dai temple that was here before the castle was built. Near Nishinomaru.45 views
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Tenbin Yagura turret on the left.44 views
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Inside Taikomon Gate.44 views
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About the Umaya Horse Stable in English, Korean, and Chinese.44 views
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Another museum centerpiece is this Edo-Period Noh stage, the only original palace structure. Noh is performed in spring and autumn.44 views
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English information sign for Taikomon Gate.44 views
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Omotemon Bridge43 views
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Left end of Tenbin Yagura turret.43 views
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Inside Tenbin Yagura turret now open to the public since 2007.43 views
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Rear view of Tenbin Yagura turret. The middle door also serves as an entrance.43 views
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Taikomon Yagura Turret. This is the gate right before you reach the main castle tower. "Taikomon" means Taiko Drum Gate. It had a taiko drum that was beaten to convey signals to the inner castle. Important Cultural Property. 太鼓門43 views
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Steps to Taikomon Gate.43 views
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Top floor. The windows are small and it's difficult to get a good shot of the view. There is also no balcony to go outside on the top floor.43 views
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Entrance to castle tower43 views
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The rear of the castle tower.43 views
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View from castle tower43 views
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Hikone Castle as seen from Genkyu-en Garden. Genkyu-en is a Japanese garden next to the castle.43 views
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Sign says Hikone Castle is one of the "Omi Hakkei" or Eight Views of Omi in spring.43 views
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A number of structures were thus saved, including the main castle tower. In 1944, the Ii family donated the castle to the city of Hikone.43 views
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After the demise of the Tokugawa and the restoration of Imperial rule in 1868, castles were ordered to be demolished. Hikone Castle was also being dismantled when Emperor Meiji visiting in 1878 spared the castle.43 views
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Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret with windows open.42 views
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Under the bridge to Tenbin Yagura turret.42 views
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Tenbin Yagura's left side has shaped stones fitting together using a newer technique (otoshi-zumi 落し積み) when repaired in 1854. 42 views
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Front view of Hikone Castle tower 天守閣42 views
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In fall42 views
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Construction of Hikone Castle started in 1604 as an urgent national project ordered by Ieyasu to deter any rebellious daimyo in western Japan and to protect Kyoto, the Imperial Capital.42 views
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Many daimyos assisted during the early phase. Most of the structures and stones came from defunct castles in Omi like Otsu, Nagahama, Odani, and Sawayama to reduce the construction time and cost.42 views
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Hiko-nyan merchandise in Heiwado42 views
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View of the bridge from Tenbin Yagura turret.41 views
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Tenbin Yagura's right side has natural, unshaped stones (gobo-zumi 牛蒡積み) with small stones in the gaps.41 views
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Hikone Castle is a designated Special National Historic Place (特別史跡).41 views
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Matchlock gun41 views
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Notice the tobacco pipe and Western dog too. Artist is unknown, but likely belonged to the Kano school of Japanese painting (狩野派). 41 views
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Red dots indicate old castle sites in Hikone.41 views
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Moat boat departure times and fares as of May 2013. Board the boat near the Genkyuen Garden entrance.41 views
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Moat as seen from Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret. Iroha pine trees on left.40 views
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Behind the horse stable.40 views
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In one Tora-san movie (starring Atsumi Kiyoshi) made in 1982, this is where he sold his goods.40 views
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Behind the castle tower is Nishinomaru keep which is west of the castle tower.40 views
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Tenbin Yagura turret in spring. This is also one location where the film Idai Naru, Shurararabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) was filmed.40 views
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The castle was finally completed by the Ii clan in 1622. Hikone Castle was the government seat and residence of the Hikone daimyo who ruled the Hikone domain and a few domains in Edo (Tokyo).40 views
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Inside Tenbin Yagura turret, looking toward the left turret.39 views
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Inside Tenbin Yagura turret39 views
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Sign outside the Taikomon Gate indicating the city's project to have Hikone Castle be designated as a World Heritage Site.39 views
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Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret. This turret is usually closed to the public, but opened during the 400th anniversary in 2007.39 views
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Since Naomasa's son Naotsugu (井伊 直継) was too young, Chief Retainer Kimata Morikatsu (家老 木俣守勝) acted on his behalf to plan the new castle's construction. Upon the approval of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, Mt. Hikone on the shore of 39 views
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Central compounds like the Kanenomaru and Honmaru and the main castle tower were completed within a few years and teenager Lord Naotsugu moved in from Sawayama Castle.39 views
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Nigiwai-ichi local goods shop set up in spring.39 views
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Statue of Lord Ii Naomasa (井伊 直政 1561-1602 ) in front of JR Hikone Station. One of the four great generals (徳川四天王) who helped Tokugawa Ieyasu win the Battle of Sekigahara (関ヶ原合戦) in 1600 to unify Japan and become shogun.39 views
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Hikone Castle Moat Boat Ride Poster38 views
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Under the bridge to Tenbin Yagura turret.38 views
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Under the right turret inside Tenbin Yagura. Stairway (closed to public) to 2nd floor of right turret.38 views
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Rear view of Tenbin Yagura turret. 38 views
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You can enter Taikomon Gate which is an exhibition room for photos of Japanese castles and a model of Hikone Castle.38 views
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Kyobashi Bridge goes to Yume-Castle Road which is a street of local shops and restaurants. In the moat, you might see a few black swans which were gifts from Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture.38 views
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Hikone Castle tower lit up at night.38 views
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A variety of people, fashion, hairstyles, and objects from that era are depicted. See people playing the samisen, playing sugoroku Japanese backgammon, or writing a love letter.38 views
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Ieyasu rewarded Naomasa with the strategic domain of Hikone (mainly Hikone, Maibara, Nagahama, Taga), making Naomasa the first Hikone daimyo (feudal lord 大名) in Omi Province (近江国).38 views
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Naosuke's poem in modern Japanese. For the sake of the country, he had no regrets. A few months later, he was assassinated. 38 views
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You can walk further to go behind Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret and this is what you will see.37 views
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Although it was the most prominent building, the daimyo did not live in it. It was mainly a glorious symbol and storehouse for samurai armor and other artifacts of past Hikone daimyo.37 views
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As one of the inner-circle fudai daimyo (譜代大名), the Ii clan continued to be influential in the Tokugawa shogunate.37 views
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Behind the horse stable and Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura Turret in the background.36 views
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Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.36 views
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Tenbin Yagura's Rokabashi Bridge had a roof.36 views
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Inside Japanese-style yakata-bune boat. Seats 11 people on tatami mats. The roof is very low. 彦根城お堀めぐり35 views
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Top floor ceiling.35 views
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Beam joint inside Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.35 views
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Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.35 views
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No nails35 views
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Moat as seen from Kuromon Gate.35 views
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Scale model of Hikone Castle in Kaikoku Kinenkan museum.35 views
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View of the bridge from Tenbin Yagura turret.34 views
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Moat of Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.34 views
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Path to Nishinomaru in spring. This area is also good for pinicking.34 views
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"Hiko" refers to Hikone, and "nyan" is a baby word for cat. Hiko-nyan's appearance schedule is here.34 viewsIf it rains, Hiko-nyan appears at the Castle Museum. Hiko-nyan is a white cat wearing a red samurai helmet with horns, modeled after the one worn by Lord Ii Naomasa, the first lord of Hikone Castle.

Hiko-nyan also makes guest appearances at various events to promote Hikone. He has even traveled to Hawaii to appear in a Japan parade in Waikiki.
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Iroha-matsu pine trees line the road to the castle.34 views
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One of the large stones at the poetry monument has a duck carving.34 views
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Behind Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.33 views
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Hikone's super popular official mascot Hiko-nyan appears every day outside Hikone Castle Museum (photo) or in front of the main castle tower. A large crowd gathers each time.33 viewsHiko-nyan was the official mascot for Hikone Castle's 400th anniversary in 2007. He proven to be so popular that he has been retained as the city's official mascot.
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Other folding screens on display.33 views
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Scale model of original Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.33 views
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Hikone City Hall with a sign urging Hikone Castle to become a World Heritage Site.33 views
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Another exit is this Kuromon Gate. This might be a better exit if you also want to visit Genkyuen Garden (recommended). 黒門32 views
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Hikone Castle as seen from Genkyuen Garden during autumn at night.32 views
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The moat boat cruises in the Inner Moat (内堀) around the Honmaru. The 45-min. tour has a Japanese guide narrating the sights.32 views
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Hiko-nyan does not talk or even "meow." He speaks through a handler or translator. Basically, he (or it) just struts around and makes cute poses with or without a prop.32 viewsAnother legend says that as soon as the cat beckoned Naotaka into the temple, lightning struck the tree where he was standing. Thus, the cat saved his life.
This legendary cat connection gave birth to the idea behind Hiko-nyan. This same legend is also one theory for the origin of the ubiquitous beckoning cat you see at shops and restaurants in Japan. The beckoning cat can be called Hiko-nyan's cousin.
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Some are Tosa (from Kochi Prefecture) pines whose roots do not protrude above ground.32 views
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Lord Ii Naosuke Poetry Monument along the Iroha pine trees.32 views
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While using a metaphor of Lake Biwa's waves crashing relentlessly against a rocky shore, the poem expresses Naosuke's brain-wracking efforts as Chief Minister in dealing with successive waves of difficult problems.32 views
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A major reason why Hikone Castle is a National Treasure is because it has many different types of roof features on one building.32 views
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If you walk further, you will see Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.31 views
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Rear of castle tower31 views
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Inside Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret. (Important Cultural Property)31 views
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Kyobashi Bridge 京橋31 views
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About the Iroha pine trees.31 views
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For New Year's in 1860, Naosuke had a formal portrait of himself painted by Kano Eigaku (狩野永岳) and wrote this poem above the portrait.31 views
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Inside Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret. Quite authentic.30 views
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Inside Nishinomaru Sanju-yagura turret.30 views
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Hikone Castle moat in autumn from Kyobashi Bridge.30 views
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The quiet-motor boat is a replica of the daimyo's boat.30 views
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About the Ninomaru-Sawaguchi Tamon Yagura.30 views
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Statue of Lord ii Naosuke.30 views
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Statue of Lord ii Naosuke.30 views
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People line up to enter Hikone Castle's main tower.30 views
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Mt. Sawayama as seen from Nishinomaru.29 views
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Lake Biwa as seen from Nishinomaru.29 views
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After visiting the Hikone Castle Tower. There are a few ways to exit. One way is going through this Otemon Gate to Kyobashi Bridge.29 views
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See more pictures of Genkyuen at my Genkyu-en photo album.29 views
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Moat near Genkyuen Garden.29 views
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Tenbin Yagura is named after the luggage-carrying shoulder pole like this Omi merchant. 29 views
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This is how crowded it can get to enter Hikone Castle's main tower. This was on a Sunday during Golden Week.29 views
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The boat is powered by very silent, battery-powered outboard motors.28 views
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Moat and cherry trees next to Genkyuen Garden.28 views
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Hikone Castle as seen from Matsubara Beach.27 views
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Entrance to Kaikoku Kinenkan museum.27 views
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Inside Kaikoku Kinenkan museum.27 views
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View from Honmaru compound, looking toward Lake Biwa.27 views
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View from castle tower, looking toward central Hikone with the castle museum in the foreground.27 views
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