Counted as one of the most famous castles in the world along with Himeji Castle, Hikone Castle has been designated as a national treasure. Hikone Castle in the moonlight is beautiful and has been selected as one of the Eight Scenic Views of Lake Biwa. It is also a good sightseeing location for families with children as Hikone City’s mascot, Hikonyan, makes an appearance at the castle every day.
Hikone Castle is located in Konkicho, Hikone City in Shiga Prefecture and served as the headquarters of the Hikone Clan during the Edo period (1603-1868). The castle also goes by the name Konki (literally ‘Golden Turtle’) Castle because a statue of Kannon (goddess of mercy) on a golden turtle was enshrined at a temple at the top of Mount Hikone before the castle was built. Hikone Castle is also a special historic site designated by the country.
Along with Inuyama Castle, Matsumoto Castle, Himeji Castle, and Matsue Castle, Hikone Castle is one of the castles whose castle tower is designated as a national treasure. Among the existing castles, Hikone Castle is exceptionally well-preserved and is known for its beautiful architecture. Hikone Castle bathed in moonlight has also been selected as one of the Eight Views of Lake Biwa.
One highlight of Hikone Castle is the three-story main castle tower, which is also designated as a national treasure. The entire family can enjoy the castle as the three-story building makes it easy to climb even with small children. Another highlight is meeting Hikonyan. After debuting in 2006, Hikonyan gained popularity, sparking the yuru-kyara (local mascot) boom in Japan and is an indispensable character for Hikone tourism. Why not go see Hikonyan as this lovable character makes an appearance at Hikone Castle three times a day, every day?
When you visit Hikone Castle, you should first take a photo of the castle tower. You can take beautiful shots of the castle tower from near the Tsukimi Yagura (Moon Viewing Tower) ruins or the Nishinomaru Sanju Yagura (West Wing Three-Story Tower). Also, Hikonyan appears three times a day at the Hikone Castle Museum (Kabukimon), Yonbancho Square Yonbancho Dining, and the Hikone Castle Museum (Kabukimon), so you may be able to take a photo together. Don’t forget to take some photos for memories of your visit!
Having lunch before going home is recommended when visiting Hikone Castle. Club Harie J’oublie le Temps is a bakery on the banks of Lake Biwa. The pure white exterior gives off an extraordinary feel, and the bakery’s Omi beef stew provides a true taste of Shiga. Also, located on the Yumekyobashi Castle Road is Hinai Jidori Hokkoriya, a popular restaurant where you can enjoy Japan’s best oyakodon (chicken and egg rice bowl). Savory Akita Hinai-Jidori, one of Japan’s top three chicken brands, gives the dish a splendid richness.
Genkyuen Garden, a Daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) garden located northeast of Hikone Castle is a good spot to visit along with the Hikone Castle. The garden was created in the likeness of the Eight Views of Omi and China’s Eight Views of Xiaoxiang. The garden is designed for strolling around, as it features nine bridges joining the islands and inlets of the large pond in the middle of the garden. At Hoshodai, you can relax with matcha green tea. In early summer, lotus and camellia flowers bloom in the pond, and the scent of flowers wafts through the garden. We recommend a visit to the lovely Genkyuen Garden!