Inuyama Castle (犬山城 Inuyama-jō) is located in the city of Inuyama north of Nagoya and is considered to be one of the oldest castles in Japan and the only one that has been in private hands until recently.
While the original structure seems to date back to the mid-fifteenth century, it was Oda Nobuyasu (織田信康, d. 1542), Nobunaga’s uncle, who erected Inuyama Castle in its present location. In the years to follow, the castle was ruled by several clans. In 1584, during the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute, Toyotomi Hideyoshi occupied it with a force 120,000 men strong and used it as a headquarter, from which he waged war against Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1600, during the Battle of Sekigahara the castle reached its most substantial extension, but its magnificent donjon was constructed afterwards, between 1601 and 1620.
In 1617, Inuyama Castle was bestowed on Naruse Masanari (成瀬正成, 1567–1625), a chief retainer of the Tokugawa-Owari. The Naruse clan would hold the castle until the present day, with an interruption of 26 years in the early Meiji period. The Meiji government returned Inuyama Castle to Naruse Masamitsu (成瀬正肥) in 1895 on condition that he repair the tenshu (main keep) and the turrets that had been destroyed in the Great Nōbi Earthquake in 1891. In 1935, it was designated a National Treasure and extensively reconstructed and restored from 1961 to 1965. In 2004, the Naruse clan sold Inuyama Castle to the City of Inuyama. It is currently maintained by the “Inuyama Castle Hakutei Bunko Foundation”.
Inside the castle, artefacts relating to the castle and the Naruse family are on exhibition. The first floor is partitioned into four chambers, one of which served as the lord’s sitting chamber, adjacent to which the mushagakushi (武者隠) lies, where the lord’s guardsmen were hiding. The second floor houses a collection of armoury, the fourth floor is called the kōran-no-ma (高欄の間, the “balcony chamber” with a gallery depicting the former rulers of the castle. The panoramic view from Inuyama Castle is spectacular. The castle is situated on a hill overlooking the Kiso River, which is also the border to Gifu Prefecture.
The ticket to Inuyama castle also covers the admission to the Shirotomachi Museum (城とまちミュージアム), consisting of the Inuyama Artifacts Museum, and the Karakuri Exhibition Room, both situated just south of the castle.
Visiting hours and admission:
Admission: 500 JPY for adults, 100 JPY for children aged 6-15; group discounts available.
Opening hours: daily from 09:00 to 17:00 (access to the castle until 16:30); closed between December 29-31.
Location and access:
Inuyama can be reached by Nozomi Shinkansen from Tokyo (to Nagoya; two hours) or from Osaka (one hour), then transfer to Meitetsu Line; approx. 25 minutes. From Inuyama Station it takes about three minutes by car or by taxi or 15 minutes on foot.