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

[/td]
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)HokkaidoHakodate 1866Tokugawa shogunate
Matsumae Castle (松前城)Hokkaido Matsumae1606 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)FukushimaAizuwakamatsu1384 Ashina Naomori
Komine Castle (小峰城)FukushimaShirakawa1340Yūki Chikatomo


Kanto

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
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 Kawagoe1457 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)NaganoNagano1560 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

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
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

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
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) OsakaChihaya-akasaka 1332 Kusunoki Masashige
Takeda Castle (竹田城) Hyōgo Asago1431 Yamana Sōzen
Sasayama Castle (篠山城)Hyōgo Sasayama 1609Tokugawa 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) HyōgoAkō1483 Oka Mitsuhiro
Takatori Castle (高取城) Nara Takatori 1332 Ochi Kunizumi
Wakayama Castle (和歌山城)Wakayama Wakayama 1586 Toyotomi Hidenaga


Chugoku

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Tottori Castle (鳥取城) Tottori Tottori 1555 Yamana clan
Matsue Castle (松江城)ShimaneMatsue 1611Horio 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) OkayamaTsuyama1444 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

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Tokushima Castle (徳島城) Tokushima Tokushima1585 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 Uwajima941 Tachibana no Tōyasu
Kōchi Castle (高知城) Kōchi Kōchi 1603 Yamauchi Kazutoyo


Kyushu

NamePrefectureCityYear completedBuilt by
Fukuoka Castle (福岡城) Fukuoka Fukuoka 1601Kuroda 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 KanzakiYayoi period ?
Saga Castle (佐賀城) Saga Saga 1602Nabeshima 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 )KumamotoHitoyoshiGenkyū eraSagara Nagayori
Funai Castle (府内城 )Ōita Ōita1597Fukuhara Nagataka
Oka Castle (岡城) Ōita Taketa 1185 Ogata Koreyoshi
Obi Castle (飫肥城) Miyazaki Nichinan Sengoku periodTsuchimochi clan
Kagoshima Castle (鹿児島城) Kagoshima Kagoshima 1602 Shimazu Iehisa
Nakijin Castle (今帰仁城)OkinawaNakijin13C?Haniji?
Nakagusuku Castle (中城城) Okinawa Kitanakagusuku 1440 Gosamaru
Shuri Castle (首里城) Okinawa Naha 14th century CE (?) King of Chūzan


100-fine-castles.jpg

Japan’s Top 100 Castles