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:
  • name recognition as a tourist site
  • importance as a cultural and historical asset
  • accuracy of reconstruction
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).

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.

japanese-castle-stamps.jpg


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 travelling. You can acquire it at Amazon Japan. Have fun!

100 Top Castles of Japan

Hokkaido

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Nemuro Peninsula Chashiato (根室半島チャシ跡群)HokkaidoNemuroFrom the 16th to the 18th century CEAinu people
Goryōkaku (五稜郭)HokkaidoHakodate1866Tokugawa shogunate
Matsumae Castle (松前城)HokkaidoMatsumae1606 MatsumaeTakahiro


Tohoku

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Hirosaki Castle (弘前城)AomoriHirosaki1611Tsugaru Tamenobu / Tsugaru Nobuhira
Ne Castle 根城AomoriHachinohe1334Moroyuki Nanbu
Morioka Castle (盛岡城)IwateMorioka1598Nanbu Nobunao
Sendai Castle (仙台城)MiyagiSendai1601Date Masamune
Taga Fort (多賀城)MiyagiTagajō724Ōno no Azumabito
Kubota Castle (久保田城)AkitaAkita1604Satake Yoshinobu
Yamagata Castle (山形城)YamagataYamagata1356Shiba Kaneyori
Nihonmatsu Castle (二本松城)FukushimaNihonmatsuMuromachi periodHatakeyama Mitsuyasu
Aizuwakamatsu Castle (会津若松城)FukushimaAizuwakamatsu1384Ashina Naomori
Komine Castle (小峰城)FukushimaShirakawa1340Yūki Chikatomo

Kanto

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Mito Castle (水戸城)IbarakiMito1198Baba Sukemoto
Banna-ji (鑁阿寺)TochigiAshikaga1196Minamoto no Yoshiyasu
Minowa Castle (箕輪城)GunmaTakasaki1512Nagano Narihisa
Kanayama Castle (金山城)GunmaŌta1469Iwamatsu Iezumi
Hachigata Castle (鉢形城)SaitamaYorii1476Nagao Kageharu
Kawagoe Castle (川越城)SaitamaKawagoe1457Uesugi Mochitomo
Sakura Castle (佐倉城)ChibaSakuraTenbun eraKashima Chikamiki
Edo Castle (江戸城)TokyoChiyoda1457Ōta Dōkan
Hachiōji Castle (八王子城)TokyoHachiōji1587Hōjō Ujiteru
Odawara Castle (小田原城)KanagawaOdawara1633Ōmori Yoriharu
Tsutsujigasaki Castle (躑躅ヶ崎館)YamanashiKōfu1519Takeda Nobutora
Kōfu Castle (甲府城)YamanashiKōfu1583Tokugawa Ieyasu
Matsushiro Castle (松代城)NaganoNagano1560Takeda Shingen
Ueda Castle (上田城)NaganoUeda1583Sanada Masayuki
Komoro Castle (小諸城)NaganoKomoro1554Takeda Shingen
Matsumoto Castle (松本城)NaganoMatsumoto1504Shimadachi Sadanaga
Takatō Castle (高遠城)NaganoMatsumoto??
Shibata Castle (新発田城)NiigataShibata1654?Shibata clan?
Kasugayama Castle (春日山城)NiigataJōetsuNanboku-chō period?

Chubu

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Takaoka Castle (高岡城)ToyamaTakaoka1609Maeda Toshinaga
Nanao Castle (七尾城)IshikawaNanao1429Hatakeyama Mitsunori
Kanazawa Castle (金沢城)IshikawaKanazawa1580Sakuma Morimasa
Maruoka Castle (丸岡城)FukuiSakai1576Shibata Katsutoyo
Ichijōdani Castle (一乗谷城)FukuiFukuiNanboku-chō periodAsakura clan
Iwamura Castle (岩村城)GifuEna1221Tōyama Kagetomo
Gifu Castle (岐阜城)GifuGifu1201Nikaidō Yukimasa
Yamanaka Castle (山中城)ShizuokaMishima1570Hōjō Ujiyasu
Sunpu Castle (駿府城)ShizuokaShizuoka1585Tokugawa Ieyasu
Kakegawa Castle (掛川城)ShizuokaKakegawa1487Asahina Yasuhiro
Inuyama Castle (犬山城)AichiInuyama1469Oda Hirochika
Nagoya Castle (名古屋城)AichiNagoya1609Tokugawa Ieyasu
Okazaki Castle (岡崎城)AichiOkazaki1452?Saigō clan
Nagashino Castle (長篠城)AichiShinshiro1508Suganuma Motonari
Iga Ueno Castle (伊賀上野城)MieIga1585Tsutsui Sadatsugu
Matsusaka Castle (松阪城)MieMatsusaka1588Gamō Ujisato

Kansai

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Odani Castle (小谷城 )ShigaKohoku1516Azai Sukemasa
Hikone Castle (彦根城)ShigaHikone1622Ii Naokatsu
Azuchi Castle (安土城)ShigaŌmihachiman1576Oda Nobunaga
Kannonji Castle (観音寺城)ShigaŌmihachiman1487Rokkaku Ujiyori
Nijō Castle (二条城)KyotoKyoto1603Tokugawa Ieyasu
Osaka Castle (大坂城)OsakaOsaka1583Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Chihaya Castle (千早城)OsakaChihaya-akasaka1332Kusunoki Masashige
Takeda Castle (竹田城)HyōgoAsago1431Yamana Sōzen
Sasayama Castle (篠山城)HyōgoSasayama1609Tokugawa Ieyasu
Akashi Castle (明石城)HyōgoAkashi1618Ogasawara Tadazane
Himeji Castle (姫路城)HyōgoHimeji1346Akamatsu Sadanori
Akō Castle (赤穂城)HyōgoAkō1483Oka Mitsuhiro
Takatori Castle (高取城)NaraTakatori1332Ochi Kunizumi
Wakayama Castle (和歌山城)WakayamaWakayama1586Toyotomi Hidenaga

Chugoku

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Tottori Castle (鳥取城)TottoriTottori1555Yamana clan
Matsue Castle (松江城)ShimaneMatsue1611Horio Tadauji
Gassantoda Castle (月山富田城)ShimaneYasugi1185?Sasaki Yoshikiyo?
Tsuwano Castle (津和野城)ShimaneTsuwano1295Yoshimi Yoriyuki
Tsuyama Castle (津山城)OkayamaTsuyama1444Yamashina Tadamasa
Bitchū Matsuyama Castle (備中松山城)OkayamaTakahashi1240Akiba Shigenobu
Ki Castle (鬼ノ城)OkayamaSōja7C?Yamato court?
Okayama Castle (岡山城)OkayamaOkayama1369Uwagami Takanao
Fukuyama Castle (福山城)HiroshimaFukuyama1622Mizuno Katsunari
Yoshida-Kōriyama Castle (吉田郡山城)HiroshimaAkitakata1336Mōri Tokichika
Hiroshima Castle (広島城)HiroshimaHiroshima1589Mōri Terumoto
Iwakuni Castle (岩国城)YamaguchiIwakuni1601Kikkawa Hiroie
Hagi Castle (萩城)YamaguchiHagi1604Mōri Terumoto

Shikoku

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Tokushima Castle (徳島城)TokushimaTokushima1585Hachisuka Iemasa
Takamatsu Castle (高松城)KagawaTakamatsu1590Ikoma Chikamasa
Marugame Castle (丸亀城)KagawaMarugameMuromachi periodNara Motoyasu
Imabari Castle (今治城)EhimeImabari1602Tōdō Takatora
Matsuyama Castle (松山城 )EhimeMatsuyama1602Katō Yoshiaki
Yuzuki Castle (湯築城)EhimeMatsuyama14CKōno clan
Ōzu Castle (大洲城)EhimeŌzu1331Utsunomiya Toyofusa
Uwajima Castle (宇和島城)EhimeUwajima941Tachibana no Tōyasu
Kōchi Castle (高知城)KōchiKōchi1603Yamauchi Kazutoyo

Kyushu

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Fukuoka Castle (福岡城)FukuokaFukuoka1601Kuroda Nagamasa
Ōno Castle (大野城)FukuokaŌnojō665?
Nagoya Castle (名護屋城)SagaKaratsu1591Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Yoshinogari site (吉野ヶ里遺跡)SagaYoshinogari KanzakiYayoi period?
Saga Castle (佐賀城)SagaSaga1602Nabeshima clan
Hirado Castle (平戸城)NagasakiHirado1599Matsura Shigenobu
Shimabara Castle (島原城 )NagasakiShimabara1624Matsukura Shigemasa
Kumamoto Castle (熊本城)KumamotoKumamoto1467Ideta Hidenobu
Hitoyoshi Castle (人吉城 )KumamotoHitoyoshiGenkyū eraSagara Nagayori
Funai Castle (府内城 )ŌitaŌita1597Fukuhara Nagataka
Oka Castle (岡城)ŌitaTaketa1185Ogata Koreyoshi
Obi Castle (飫肥城)MiyazakiNichinanSengoku periodTsuchimochi clan
Kagoshima Castle (鹿児島城)KagoshimaKagoshima1602Shimazu Iehisa
Nakijin Castle (今帰仁城)OkinawaNakijin13C?Haniji?
Nakagusuku Castle (中城城)OkinawaKitanakagusuku1440Gosamaru
Shuri Castle (首里城)OkinawaNaha14th century CE (?)King of Chūzan


Japan’s Top 100 Castles