Hyogo’s Castle in the Sky: Takeda Castle Ruins

Images/text: the Kyoto Traveller

The Takeda Castle Ruins are located within the city of Asago in Hyogo Prefecture and are known as the “castle in the sky”. Built atop an ancient hill at 353 m above sea level, the hill resembles the shape of a tiger. This resulted in the castle ruins being referred to as “Castle of the Sleeping Tiger”. The ruins spread 100 m from East to West, 400 m from South to North. It is one of the biggest castle ruins in existence and is often nicknamed Japan’s Machu Picchu.

Castle in the Sky

When you visit during the cherry blossom season, you will see a glorious sea of flowers.

The rivers next to the train station offer great views as well. We recommend coming here during spring.

To see the Castle in the Sky, you will need to have luck on your side. The sea of clouds only appears when the weather and timing is right, and this happens most frequently during the fall. If you absolutely want to see this natural phenomenon, be sure to come here in the fall. Additionally, if you want to take photos showing the Takeda Castle Ruins at this angle, you will need to head to Ritsunkyo Valley across from the ruins. The walk to Ritsunkyo Valley from the train station takes about an hour.

During high season, “Castle in the Sky” shuttle buses will be available, with the bus stop right outside the train station. The 20 minute ride costs 260 yen. If you purchase the 500 yen one-day pass, you will save 20 yen.

Walk for about 60 minutes from the southern end of the hiking trail, or about 40 minutes from the hiking trail at the back of the train station. During the winter the path could be closed at times. Be sure to check the official website for schedules and more details.

Please note that not all buses are as easily recognizable as this one. Some buses look just like a regular bus.

Other than being a designated national heritage site, the Takeda Castle Ruins is also one of Japan’s top 100 castles as well as a hotspot for couples. You will see this information outside the station.

Once you get off the bus, you will see this place. The road on the right leads to a washroom and a vending machine. Head to the road on the left if you don’t need to go for a bathroom run.

Walk for 20 minutes and you will see the entrance to the ruins. This place totally deserves the title of Japan’s Machu Picchu – look at the entrance!

To manage the site with greater ease, within the castle ruins all paths are one-way. This truly is a great spot to visit during the cherry blossom season. Look at this sea of pink!

A green valley during the summer. Personally, I love visiting during the summertime the most.

During peak tourist season, you may see staff dressed as Japanese samurais. Be sure to take photos with them if you can!

Once you finish your tour of the Takeda Castle Ruins, walk back to where you came from and head back to Takeda station. The time it takes for the bus ride, the wait, the hike and the sightseeing is about 2 to 3 hours. If you choose to mount to the top on foot, you will need more time. We suggest giving this place half a day within your itinerary.

Food and drinks

There are very few restaurants near Takeda station. Once you exit the station, turn right with your back turned against the station, you will see a small coffee shop about 3 minutes away on foot. If you are hungry or wanting a break, come here!

Accommodation

If you are wanting to take photographs of the sea of clouds engulfing the Takeda Castle Ruins, an ideal place to stay is of course near Takeda station. Unfortunately, there really aren’t too many choices around the area. If you are unable to book a hotel nearby, consider staying near Wadayama station instead.

Additional note

If you are coming here during spring time, tread along a scenic and calm pathway behind the station, or walk 5 minutes from the station.

You will enjoy views of cherry blossom dotting along the river.

Look at all the cherry trees along the river! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to enjoy a Hanami bento (food boxes specially dedicated to cherry blossoms), or a drink or two?

Entrance fee to Takeda Castle Ruins: 500 yen

Getting there: get off at Takeda JR station. Walk for about 60 minutes from the southern end of the hiking trail, or about 40 minutes from the hiking trail at the back of the train station. Alternatively, take the Sky Bus for about 20 minutes to reach the site.


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