After visiting Odawara Castle in Kanagawa Prefecture during a typhoon, my next destination was Hamamatsu Castle in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Hamamatsu Castle is located in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture (map).
Shizuoka Prefecture is famous for its great views of Mount Fuji, but as there was a typhoon the day before, the weather still had not recovered. As you can see in the photos, it was rather cloudy and dark. However, the beautiful cherry blossoms surrounding the castle made up for that!
Hamamatsu Castle is located in the Hamamatsu Castle Park which is not too far away from the JR Hamamatsu Station and right next to the City Hall. For access information please refer to the “tourist information box” at the end of this post.
The park is not too spacious, but has some really nice facilities such as a Japanese garden, the Shouintei Tea Ceremony House and a playground for children. There’s also the “Hamamatsu Museum of Art” on the park grounds.
Why Hamamatsu Castle is special
The castle lover in me apparently went only for ONE reason: to explore the castle itself!
And Hamamatsu Castle (浜松城) is actually quite special because it was the headquarter of the famous Ieyasu Tokugawa who was the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan (1603 – 1605).
He spent 17 years there from the age of 29 to 45. The castle did commence almost 300 years of glorious Tokugawa history (1603-1867). It is also known as the “Castle of Success” because Tokugawa fought won some important battles while living there and the lords of Hamamatsu Castle who ruled the castle after Tokugawa were all very influential figures as well. One of them was Tadakuni Mizuno who reformed the Tenpo Era.
Before Tokugawa conquered the castle in 1570, it was in the hands of the Imagawa clan. Back then it was known under the name Hikuma Castle and it was built in 1532. Tokugawa renovated and expanded the castle in 1577 and from then on it was called “Hamamatsu Castle”.
Like many other castles Hamamatsu Castle was completely destroyed at the end of the Edo Period (~ 1860s).
The main tower of the castle, however, was rebuilt in 1958. It was established as a historical site on June 1st 1959.
While the main tower is a reconstruction, the stone walls of Hamamatsu Castle are still the original ones. They were built in the Nozura-zumi style by piling field stones on top of each other. Larger stones were pushed into place with the largest side of the rock facing inwards (gobo-zumi). Then the smaller stones were used to fill in the gaps, thus creating a thick and strong wall. Sometimes rocks were pushed into the gaps from the outside, giving the wall a disorderly appearance, but a solid foundation.
It might look like it’s about to collapse, but the walls have withstood 400 years of rough weather conditions, earthquakes and wars.
The current castle tower consists of a basement and three floors.
The basement features a well and there are several exhibits on the first and second floor such as reproductions of Lord Tokugawa’s warrior armors.
Here you see Lord Tokugawa and in the background there’s Hamamatsu Castle.
There was also a miniature model of the castle. I was impressed by how accurately they reproduced the stone walls!
The third floor serves as an observation platform at a height of 50m. In the distance you can see the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately they had put a metal grid there and it was difficult to take nice panorama photos. It’s a safety measure that you’ll find in other castles as well.
Here’s my entrance ticket for the castle. I really like the picture they’re using.
Right next to the castle (you can see the castle walls on the right) is a little shrine.
On the left you can see the stone wall foundation and even a little bit of the castle itself. The shrine is really nothing special, but I loved the mix of colors!
It’s great when you have a shrine, cherry blossoms AND a castle so close together. I really love taking photos of scenes like that!
As you can see the wooden red shrine gates were already falling apart. I wonder how old they are.
It was the peak of cherry blossom season, thus there were festivals going on everywhere. Castle parks are usually extremely popular cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. Almost every castle I’ve visited so far was surrounded by a few cherry blossom trees.
Often you’ll run into lanterns like the one above with sakura patterns printed on them.
A few people were up in the 3rd floor of the castle, taking photos. As you can see it’s not really very high.
Other spots of interest at Hamamatsu Castle Park
Near the main tower of the castle you’ll find this bronze statue of Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu.
Next to the castle there’s a small path that will lead you to other interesting spots of the park.
After a short walk you’ll run into a little Japanese garden as well as Katarai Garden. An admission fee is not required.
I totally fell in love with this waterfall. After taking this photo I just sat in front of it and enjoyed a calm, relaxing moment. Isn’t it simply beautiful with the reflection in the water?
Luckily the weather got better later that day. I stayed in Hamamatsu City. My next destinations were the Nakatajima Sand Dunes and the Hamamatsu Festival Pavilion.
I love the old castles in Japan; they’re such a national treasure. And to see a castle, shrine, and garden all in the same area is really nice.
I’ve read that there are 47 major castles left in Japan–how many have you been to?
Where did you get the number 47 from?
I would say it’s hard to tell which those 47 major castles are. There is an official “Top 100” list, though.
And only a very small number of them are still in their original shape. I think there are 12 of them and I’ve been to all of those.
I haven’t updated my personal list in over a year, but I guess I’m now somewhere between 90 and 100 visited castles! :)
I got that number from http://tanutech.com/japan/jcastles.html , though I suppose it depends what one considers “major,” and whether you take into account the condition of the castles. I’ve certainly visited some castle ruins where there was nothing more than the stone base left. Kind of hard to count that as a castle, for me.
But still, 90 to 100—wow, that’s a lot of castle visiting. Have you considered becoming a tour guide?
Thanks a lot for sharing that list. Very interesting and I can certainly see the point. I can agree with most of them!
Out of the listed 47 castles, I’ve been to 44. One of the three missing has been on my list for a long time and is so close that I can go there with my car.
The other two might be a bit more challenging. *g*
I do count ruins as castles as well, but I usually prefer the ones where a main tower is left – even if it’s a reconstruction. Some reconstructions are really impressive!
But there are a few exceptions where the castle ruins can be EXTREMELY interesting. I love the ones where you can hike up and have a nice view from the top! :)
There are two great guys here in Japan who know much more about castles than I do! They’d be great guides, not me! ^__^;
While I might have visited a lot of castles – I often don’t know all the historical details, but they do! And they were my inspiration!
I’m not sure if you know their websites, but you should check them out:
Japanese Castle Explorer
It certainly has a wonderful history and played an important part in it with Tokugawa Ieyasu. I’ve yet to visit this one, so should plan a visit to Shizuoka again soon. Most castles in Japan are beautiful this time of year with lots of cherry blossoms around the castle grounds and parks.
I agree! This is my favorite time to visit castles!
I’m so happy I chose to visit Tohoku during Golden Week last year as there are so many great castles surrounded by cherry blossom trees that were in full bloom at that time! ^___^
Some absolutely beautiful pictures :D
Thank you! That’s because it is a really beautiful place! ^___^
This castle has a lovely park that seems worth visiting.
By the way, the shrine gates need not be very old to start deteriorating. Unless they are made of rot resistant cedar, treated wood, or carefully repainted each year, wooden structures can deteriorate fast. Especially in a climate that is as hot and humid as Japan can be in summer. They may well have been put there at the time of the castle restoration.
I think it’s a popular cherry blossom viewing spot among the locals.
Very interesting. I didn’t know about that. Thanks so much for letting me (us) know! ^__^
There are a lot of gates like that (= in bad shape) at Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari Shrine as well, but I suppose as there are so many it takes a lot of time and money to get them back into shape or replace them.
Think I fell in love with the waterfall too! The statue of Iyeyasu is very cool.
Thanks. The statue is much cooler than on my photo which is kind of dark and you can only see the upper part.
If you get a chance to you should definitely visit! :)
fantastic love castles to. I took your advice when there to get a shrine book do they by any chance do castle books as well. If not would be a great idea
Hi Tina! :D
No, unfortunately there are no castle books. I’d be the first to use it! *g*
There are stamps for the “Best 100 Japanese Castles”, though. Usually you can get that stamp where you buy the entrance ticket.