Hyogo Prefecture has a lot of great castles such as the famous Himeji Castle.
However, there are others you shouldn’t miss like “The Castle in the Sky” also known as “Takeda Castle” which is close to the one I want to introduce today: Izushi Castle
Access to Izushi Castle
Izushi Castle (出石城) can be found in Izushi City (出石市) in Hyogo Prefecture (map).
Izushi doesn’t have a train station, so you can access it by car or bus. Take a Zentan Bus (全但バス) from JR Toyooka Station – which is about 2.5 h from Kyoto or 3 h from Osaka. It is not too far from “Fukuchiyama” and “Amanohashidate“, so you might want to visit those sights as well.
The sightseeing spots in Izushi City are all very close together, so you can easily walk around.
The castle can be accessed via a small wooden bridge (see photo above).
The castle grounds are a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot in spring.
Early April is usually the best time to visit as that’s when the blossoms are in full bloom.
Izushi Castle’s History
Yamana Suketoyo of the Yamana Clan built a castle in Izushi on Mt. Ariko. However, they had to abandon this castle in 1580.
When the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) was over, Koide Yoshihide built Izushi Castle in 1604 at the foot of Mt. Ariko (有子山). It never had a main keep. If you want to know more details about the castle’s history, I highly recommend reading JCastle Info.
Here you can see the Ni-no-maru ruins (二の丸跡).
Some of the outer castle walls, nicely “decorated” with pink cherry blossom trees.
The stone marks the ruins of the “Honmaru”, the main building of the castle (left photo).
You have a nice view over Izushi City. There’s a little park in front of the castle grounds.
One of the yagura (turrets) – with a bench right under a cherry blossom tree. A great place to relax!
A closer look at the turret.
Red shrine gates??!! But, why?
Well, there’s an Inari Shrine on the castle grounds. Inari Shrines can be identified by the high number of red gates and fox statues. The most famous Inari Shrine is Fushimi Inari in Kyoto. That Inari Shrine has a total of thirty-seven vermilion gates creating a beautiful contrast with the white castle building.
It’s rare to have a shrine right next to a castle, but you’ll see that somtimes. Other examples are Okazaki Castle in Aichi Prefecture or Nakatsu Castle in Oita Prefecture – to name just a few.
After walking up a few stone steps, you’ll reach the shrine’s main building. You can also see the fox statues on the left and right.
Even up there you’ll find some cherry blossom trees.
That’s the view you get when you stand on the shrine grounds.
Izushi Castle is not a “must-see”, but it’s close to other awesome sights. Furthermore, Izushi City has some other interesting spots to offer, so definitely take it into consideration if you’re planning to travel around in Kyoto Prefecture.
It looks like a nice enough castle to visit. I bet the contrast of the red torii gates against the white of the castle and its walls is spectacular. I hear the castle town (Izushi City) is nice to visit as well with old samurai homes and an Edo Period feel to it.
I’ll write a separate post about Izushi City. It’s also famous for soba (buck wheat noodles). :D
But the castle hunter in me mainly went for the castle. ;)
Cool! I’m looking forward to that :) Yeah, I hear that Izushisara Soba is the local delicacy. Beautiful pictures by the way.
Thanks! Spring is just always a great season to take beautiful photos. ^__^
Long time no see, missed ya! What a Cute Castle and Shrine. I just saw an anime about Inari shrines and it was called the “Silver Fox” about fox spirit heralds and the select priest family members that can communicate through the heralds to the gods. Very interesting “Slice-of-life” story and was an eye opener on the life of those that live at and/or visit the shrines. For me it certainly humanized that Japanese view on religion as compared to my western beliefs. Interesting that it’s so close to the castle and I loved the way everything looked so Feng shui!!
Loved the photos and their organization/selection. Vonderbar!!
Glad you like the photos! ^____^
Sounds like an interesting anime.
I’m a huge fan of Japanese shrines, so having a castle right next to a shrine is something truly wonderful in my eyes.
Great pics! Thanks for the link too!
I love the shots of the roof tiles with the family crest on the ends. Big castle structures are always great but attention to these details really makes you appreciate the craftsmanship that’s gone into building them. It’s something I often overlook on the first visit. Kudos !
BTW, it looks like the link to one of your images is broken:
“The castle grounds are a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot in spring.”
Thanks! I know you went there recently as well. :D
I fixed it. Originally I planned to take that photo out, but forgot to remove the link to it. Thanks for letting me know.