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.