Do you fancy Japanese castles? If your answer is yes, you might be interested in what is all the rage among Japanese “castle lovers”: the Japan Top 100 Castles stamp rally!
Japan’s Top 100 Castles (日本百名城 Nihon hyaku-meijō) contains a list of the most famous castles across the board of Japan. The castles are numbered, organized by region, and their history briefly explained. Each castle has its own beautifully designed stamp; armed with the booklet, castle aficionados can now embark on their quest to collect all one hundred stamps. Once that’s accomplished, they can send it to the Japan Castle Foundation (日本城郭協会 Nihon Jōkaku Kyōkai), which will then certify their effort. Let’s take a look at the details (see the complete list of castles below):
How were those 100 castles chosen?
In 2006, the Japan Castle Foundation – prior to their 40th anniversary – picked 100 castles. Now the question is how have they narrowed it down to just one hundred? If not just castles, but forts were to be included too, things might have gone out of proportion: it is estimated that several tens of thousands of fortifications from the ancient to the modern era remain in Japan. Some say there are 25,000 castles registered in the official records, while others claim there are up to 40 to 50 thousand sites recorded in Japan!
The Japan Castle Foundation utilized the expertise of renowned historians and architects and selected historical sites based on the following criteria:
Finally, on the 6th of April, 2006, now designated “Castle Day”, the foundation officially certified the final contenders as “Japan’s Top 100 castles”. That date is of some significance, as the Japanese word for castle is shiro (城) which can be phonetically broken down into shi (“four”, for April, the fourth month in the year) and ro (“six”, the sixth day of the month).
- name recognition as a tourist site
- importance as a cultural and historical asset
- accuracy of reconstruction
The stamps are usually found in administrative buildings or next to the ticket counters of historical sites, but can sometimes difficult to locate.
See some of the stamp samples below.
Interested in exploring some of Japan’s most magnificent edifices? Then get your stamp book first. There are a few different editions on sale, however, the one displayed above is quite handy while traveling. You can acquire it at Amazon Japan. Have fun!
100 Top Castles of Japan
Name Prefecture City Year completed Built by Hokkaido - - - - Nemuro Peninsula Chashiato (根室半島チャシ跡群) Hokkaido Nemuro From the 16th to the 18th century CE Ainu people Goryōkaku (五稜郭) Hokkaido Hakodate 1866 Tokugawa shogunate Matsumae Castle (松前城) Hokkaido Matsumae 1606 Matsumae Takahiro Tohoku - - - - Hirosaki Castle (弘前城) Aomori Hirosaki 1611 Tsugaru Tamenobu / Tsugaru Nobuhira Ne Castle 根城 Aomori Hachinohe 1334 Moroyuki Nanbu Morioka Castle (盛岡城) Iwate Morioka 1598 Nanbu Nobunao Sendai Castle (仙台城) Miyagi Sendai 1601 Date Masamune Taga Fort (多賀城) Miyagi Tagajō 724 Ōno no Azumabito Kubota Castle (久保田城) Akita Akita 1604 Satake Yoshinobu Yamagata Castle (山形城) Yamagata Yamagata 1356 Shiba Kaneyori Nihonmatsu Castle (二本松城) Fukushima Nihonmatsu Muromachi period Hatakeyama Mitsuyasu Aizuwakamatsu Castle (会津若松城) Fukushima Aizuwakamatsu 1384 Ashina Naomori Komine Castle (小峰城) Fukushima Shirakawa 1340 Yūki Chikatomo Kanto - - - - Mito Castle (水戸城) Ibaraki Mito 1198 Baba Sukemoto Banna-ji (鑁阿寺) Tochigi Ashikaga 1196 Minamoto no Yoshiyasu Minowa Castle (箕輪城) Gunma Takasaki 1512 Nagano Narihisa Kanayama Castle (金山城) Gunma Ōta 1469 Iwamatsu Iezumi Hachigata Castle (鉢形城) Saitama Yorii 1476 Nagao Kageharu Kawagoe Castle (川越城) Saitama Kawagoe 1457 Uesugi Mochitomo Sakura Castle (佐倉城) Chiba Sakura Tenbun era Kashima Chikamiki Edo Castle (江戸城) Tokyo Chiyoda 1457 Ōta Dōkan Hachiōji Castle (八王子城) Tokyo Hachiōji 1587 Hōjō Ujiteru Odawara Castle (小田原城) Kanagawa Odawara 1633 Ōmori Yoriharu Tsutsujigasaki Castle (躑躅ヶ崎館) Yamanashi Kōfu 1519 Takeda Nobutora Kōfu Castle (甲府城) Yamanashi Kōfu 1583 Tokugawa Ieyasu Matsushiro Castle (松代城) Nagano Nagano 1560 Takeda Shingen Ueda Castle (上田城) Nagano Ueda 1583 Sanada Masayuki Komoro Castle (小諸城) Nagano Komoro 1554 Takeda Shingen Matsumoto Castle (松本城) Nagano Matsumoto 1504 Shimadachi Sadanaga Takatō Castle (高遠城) Nagano Matsumoto ? ? Shibata Castle (新発田城) Niigata Shibata 1654? Shibata clan? Kasugayama Castle (春日山城) Niigata Jōetsu Nanboku-chō period ? Chubu - - - - Takaoka Castle (高岡城) Toyama Takaoka 1609 Maeda Toshinaga Nanao Castle (七尾城) Ishikawa Nanao 1429 Hatakeyama Mitsunori Kanazawa Castle (金沢城) Ishikawa Kanazawa 1580 Sakuma Morimasa Maruoka Castle (丸岡城) Fukui Sakai 1576 Shibata Katsutoyo Ichijōdani Castle (一乗谷城) Fukui Fukui Nanboku-chō period Asakura clan Iwamura Castle (岩村城) Gifu Ena 1221 Tōyama Kagetomo Gifu Castle (岐阜城) Gifu Gifu 1201 Nikaidō Yukimasa Yamanaka Castle (山中城) Shizuoka Mishima 1570 Hōjō Ujiyasu Sunpu Castle (駿府城) Shizuoka Shizuoka 1585 Tokugawa Ieyasu Kakegawa Castle (掛川城) Shizuoka Kakegawa 1487 Asahina Yasuhiro Inuyama Castle (犬山城) Aichi Inuyama 1469 Oda Hirochika Nagoya Castle (名古屋城) Aichi Nagoya 1609 Tokugawa Ieyasu Okazaki Castle (岡崎城) Aichi Okazaki 1452? Saigō clan Nagashino Castle (長篠城) Aichi Shinshiro 1508 Suganuma Motonari Iga Ueno Castle (伊賀上野城) Mie Iga 1585 Tsutsui Sadatsugu Matsusaka Castle (松阪城) Mie Matsusaka 1588 Gamō Ujisato Kansai - - - - Odani Castle (小谷城 ) Shiga Kohoku 1516 Azai Sukemasa Hikone Castle (彦根城) Shiga Hikone 1622 Ii Naokatsu Azuchi Castle (安土城) Shiga Ōmihachiman 1576 Oda Nobunaga Kannonji Castle (観音寺城) Shiga Ōmihachiman 1487 Rokkaku Ujiyori Nijō Castle (二条城) Kyoto Kyoto 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu Osaka Castle (大坂城) Osaka Osaka 1583 Toyotomi Hideyoshi Chihaya Castle (千早城) Osaka Chihaya-akasaka 1332 Kusunoki Masashige Takeda Castle (竹田城) Hyōgo Asago 1431 Yamana Sōzen Sasayama Castle (篠山城) Hyōgo Sasayama 1609 Tokugawa Ieyasu Akashi Castle (明石城) Hyōgo Akashi 1618 Ogasawara Tadazane Himeji Castle (姫路城) Hyōgo Himeji 1346 Akamatsu Sadanori Akō Castle (赤穂城) Hyōgo Akō 1483 Oka Mitsuhiro Takatori Castle (高取城) Nara Takatori 1332 Ochi Kunizumi Wakayama Castle (和歌山城) Wakayama Wakayama 1586 Toyotomi Hidenaga Chugoku - - - - Tottori Castle (鳥取城) Tottori Tottori 1555 Yamana clan Matsue Castle (松江城) Shimane Matsue 1611 Horio Tadauji Gassantoda Castle (月山富田城) Shimane Yasugi 1185? Sasaki Yoshikiyo? Tsuwano Castle (津和野城) Shimane Tsuwano 1295 Yoshimi Yoriyuki Tsuyama Castle (津山城) Okayama Tsuyama 1444 Yamashina Tadamasa Bitchū Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城) Okayama Takahashi 1240 Akiba Shigenobu Ki Castle (鬼ノ城) Okayama Sōja 7C? Yamato court? Okayama Castle (岡山城) Okayama Okayama 1369 Uwagami Takanao Fukuyama Castle (福山城) Hiroshima Fukuyama 1622 Mizuno Katsunari Yoshida-Kōriyama Castle (吉田郡山城) Hiroshima Akitakata 1336 Mōri Tokichika Hiroshima Castle (広島城) Hiroshima Hiroshima 1589 Mōri Terumoto Iwakuni Castle (岩国城) Yamaguchi Iwakuni 1601 Kikkawa Hiroie Hagi Castle (萩城) Yamaguchi Hagi 1604 Mōri Terumoto Shikoku - - - - Tokushima Castle (徳島城) Tokushima Tokushima 1585 Hachisuka Iemasa Takamatsu Castle (高松城) Kagawa Takamatsu 1590 Ikoma Chikamasa Marugame Castle (丸亀城) Kagawa Marugame Muromachi period Nara Motoyasu Imabari Castle (今治城) Ehime Imabari 1602 Tōdō Takatora Matsuyama Castle (松山城 ) Ehime Matsuyama 1602 Katō Yoshiaki Yuzuki Castle (湯築城) Ehime Matsuyama 14C Kōno clan Ōzu Castle (大洲城) Ehime Ōzu 1331 Utsunomiya Toyofusa Uwajima Castle (宇和島城) Ehime Uwajima 941 Tachibana no Tōyasu Kōchi Castle (高知城) Kōchi Kōchi 1603 Yamauchi Kazutoyo Kyushu - - - - Fukuoka Castle (福岡城) Fukuoka Fukuoka 1601 Kuroda Nagamasa Ōno Castle (大野城) Fukuoka Ōnojō 665 ? Nagoya Castle (名護屋城) Saga Karatsu 1591 Toyotomi Hideyoshi Yoshinogari site (吉野ヶ里遺跡) Saga Yoshinogari Kanzaki Yayoi period ? Saga Castle (佐賀城) Saga Saga 1602 Nabeshima clan Hirado Castle (平戸城) Nagasaki Hirado 1599 Matsura Shigenobu Shimabara Castle (島原城 ) Nagasaki Shimabara 1624 Matsukura Shigemasa Kumamoto Castle (熊本城) Kumamoto Kumamoto 1467 Ideta Hidenobu Hitoyoshi Castle (人吉城 ) Kumamoto Hitoyoshi Genkyū era Sagara Nagayori Funai Castle (府内城 ) Ōita Ōita 1597 Fukuhara Nagataka Oka Castle (岡城) Ōita Taketa 1185 Ogata Koreyoshi Obi Castle (飫肥城) Miyazaki Nichinan Sengoku period Tsuchimochi clan Kagoshima Castle (鹿児島城) Kagoshima Kagoshima 1602 Shimazu Iehisa Nakijin Castle (今帰仁城) Okinawa Nakijin 13C? Haniji? Nakagusuku Castle (中城城) Okinawa Kitanakagusuku 1440 Gosamaru Shuri Castle (首里城) Okinawa Naha 14th century CE (?) King of Chūzan
Japan’s Top 100 Castles