Takeda Castle 竹田城
Founder Ohtagaki Mitsukage
Year 1441
Type Mountaintop
Condition Ruins
Alternate Name torafushi-jo
Admin's Rating ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Historical Site National Historic Site
Historical Value Top 100 Castles
Location Asago, Hyogo Pref.
Map Google Map
Access Takeda Station (Bantan Line); 60 min walk or 15 min taxi (1500 yen)
Website Asago City - Visiting Takeda Castle Ruins
Visited Nov. 15, 2009; Sept 27, 2013
Visitor Info. Some areas currently blocked off for repairs. | Time Required: 90 mins on site + 2hrs round trip to the station
Notes This is a truly impressive castle. Despite being only ruins; the location, stone walls, design, and view easily make it worth 4 stars. It is amazing how they built such extensive stone walls on top of the mountain. I'm also very glad the town hasn't ruined the atmosphere by putting fences or shrubs along the steep drop-offs along the edges of the stone walls like I've seen at other castles. There are few trains running to Takeda and you'll want at least 90 minutes at the castle (depending on how much you take pictures) so plan accordingly. There is some historic atmosphere of the old castle town and temples near the station but I did not have time to explore them this time since I was going to Himeji in the afternoon. Next time, I think I could spend the whole day here. There are also nice views looking down on the castle from a nearby mountain.

See my blog entry from October 2013 that details a new visit to Takeda Castle with news photos

History Takeda Castle was built on this site in the path of aggression between Harima/Tanba and Tajima regions as a stronghold of Izushi Castle. It was built by Ohtagaki Mitsukage, a retainer of Yamana Sozen, lord of the area, in 1441. Ohtagaki, who had been a military commander of the Yamana clan for 5 generations became lord of the castle.

Takeda Castle was conquered by Hideyoshi in his Tajima campaign of 1577. Hideyoshi placed it in the control of his younger brother, Hidenaga, who moved to Izushi less than 2 years later. Akamatsu Hirohide, the last lord of the castle, fought on the side of the Western Forces for Tokugawa at the battle of Sekigahara in the attack on Tottori Castle. Hirohide served valiantly in the battle, but was accused of setting the castle town on fire. Later that year he committed seppuku and Takeda Castle was abandoned.

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  • ART    April 24, 2017 at 04:41 PM
    Takeda Castle has the nickname “Japan’s Machu Picchu,” due to the spectacular appearance of its stone walls sitting atop of the mountain. I went on a bus tour here in 2013. I’d like to go back and explore more thoroughly, including hiking up to nearby mountains to get a panoramic view of the castle. Takedajō was first built in 1443 as a satellite castle of Izushijō. The first lord was Ōtagaki Mitsukage, a vassal of Yamana Sozen. Toyotomi Hidenaga conquered the castle in 1577 as part of Hideyoshi’s Tajima Campaign. Akamatsu Hirohide was put in charge in 1585 and he modernised the castle, constructing the magnificent stonewalls we see today. His main mandate was to protect nearby silver mines.
  • onnajoshu    March 25, 2017 at 09:19 PM
    Eric, I did not see anything to suggest the trail was not open, but actually took the bus that circles from Takeda Station to the parking lot near the top. My sense is that it is now open.
  • Eric    March 21, 2017 at 11:41 PM
    Onnajoshu, very cool, I should try it during this season some time. I've been reluctant due to the crowds in recent years. Is the trail up the mountain open again? When I was there in 2013 it was off limits.
  • onnajoshu    March 15, 2017 at 09:17 PM
    I visited Takeda Jo in early March 2017 -- everything was open. I visited during a cold, breezy, snow shower and felt like I was at the top of the world -- just amazing! This is a 5 star! I took the bus that circles around the castle, but next time I think I will do the hike up. By the way, I had the whole mountain to myself -- guess there are not a lot of winter weather castle fans!
  • onnajoshu    March 15, 2017 at 09:16 PM
    I visited Takeda Jo in early March 2017 -- everything was open. I visited during a cold, breezy, snow shower and felt like I was at the top of the world -- just amazing! This is a 5 star! I took the bus that circles around the castle, but next time I think I will do the hike up.
  • ART    March 28, 2016 at 12:07 AM
    I visited in 2013. If you'd have told me, Art, you'll see a castle site with no buildings just ishigaki and it'll be one of the best castle sites you've ever seen, i would have never believed you. In fact, i might have even got angry. But lo Takedajou was that castle, japan's Machu Picchu, as they call it. Can't recommend it enough. I saw two mukade fighting in mortal combat on the mountain. I reached out with my hand to touch them but my friend slowly shook her head at me so i desisted.
  • Eric    December 15, 2014 at 12:33 AM
    I heard earlier this year that it was under consideration but I do not see any such definitive news on their website so far. I’ll let you know if I hear of any changes.
  • Terry    December 03, 2014 at 03:12 PM
    Eric, I have heard that you will need a reservation to see the castle starting sometime in the Spring of 2015, is this true? I am planning to go there and to Himeji the first week of April. Thanks.
  • Eric    June 02, 2014 at 08:12 AM
    While Takeda Castle is magnificent, I think people should consider some equally magnificent alternatives such as Tsuwano Castle and Takatori Castle in the interim until repairs are finished and the crowds have lessened.
  • Eric    June 02, 2014 at 08:10 AM
    Daniele, November is one of the best times to visit, but it may be crowded too. If you arrive around 12pm you should have plenty of time to walk up to the castle and enjoy it. It does take about 60 mins to walk there. All visitors should be aware that the castle walls are undergoing repairs and the areas you can enter are strictly limited. See the link below. The red part is a one way path that is fenced off. The blue areas are open to walk around but may be closed in rain or when the conditions are not good. http://www.city.asago.hyogo.jp/0000003733.html
  • vinnemcgrath    June 01, 2014 at 04:40 PM
    I was looking forward to seeing this castle when I was on my castle trip in April the train was nice and easy to get there from Himeji I walked up the old walking track that was closed didn't know about the new one till I came down but I get to the top I was disappointed not with the ruins but with the sandbagged walk way and half the area blocked off, unable to go on top of the main keep. but the ruins are some of the best I seen nice stone work amazing views of the valleys and mountains.
  • Daniele    May 31, 2014 at 06:37 PM
    Hi! I am planning to visit Takeda-jo from many months, but I hadn't enough time to do it. In november it worth a visit? I will leave from Osaka, so I won't arrive before 12 pm. Once in Takeda Station, there is a 60 mins walking until the castle ruins? And what about the other viewing areas? Thanks!!!
  • Eric    May 15, 2013 at 12:07 AM
    @outdoorholic, of course you can mention this site. Also, feel free to add a new comment with a link to your blog post and share it with more people.
  • The Outdoorholic.    May 14, 2013 at 08:58 PM
    My Wife & I have just returned from three days holidaying in the area. On our way through Takeda we took the time to check-out the castle. As we passed through, on our way home,we took the opportunity to check the castle from the hill opposite. Both visits were awesome and we hope to return with our family. If you are driving, and plan to visit the castle on a weekend or holiday, may I suggest you park in the vicinity of the railway station and walk up to the castle.That way you will avoid the long queue of cars waiting to access the car-park. If it's warm or hot,take something to drink and a bite-to-eat, for both venues. I plan to compose a blog about this castle, I hope you have no objections if I can mention this 'site. Most appreciated.
  • RaymondW    May 06, 2013 at 09:50 PM
    For those planning on a visit to this great castle ruin, JR West, until the end of June, has one of its Tokyu Express Trains stop at JR Takeda Station once a day on Saturdays and Sundays from JR Osaka Station. On the advertisement that I saw, it said that you can catch the express train "Hamakaze" from Osaka Station at around 9:30am, arriving at Takeda Station at around 11:45. Apparently, there is also a bus from the station to take the visitor up to the castle ruin. There are two return express trains from Takeda Station in the arvo, but I can't remember their times. Well, it looks like Takeda Castle has been truly placed on the tourist map now.
  • Ron    April 01, 2013 at 12:09 AM
    I finally went up to see Takeda castle this past Friday and all the superlatives ever written about it are true. I’ve been visiting J castles for over 30 years and consider myself a bit jaded, but as we approached the otemon gate after hiking up the hill, I felt almost as excited as my first trip to Himeji Castle way back when. My only slight disappointments were the gray weather, although it gave the whole scene a kind of Scottish highlands effect, and the large number of other visitors who were there. Gone forever, it would seem, are the days when you could take pictures of a near empty castle like Eric did or a22cricket laments. While not quite swarming, visitors were everywhere and I never had to worry about having people in my photos to provide a perspective of size. In fact, several times I had to wait a while to get the long shot I wanted without including people in the foreground. Takeda Castle’s “discovery” a few years ago by the mass media as “the castle in the air (天空の城) that can float above the clouds and it’s designation as the “Machu Picchu of Japan” has turned it into a major tourist attraction that is bringing significant, but positive, I think, changes to the castle and it’s little town. The biggest change will be an admission charge of 300 yen per person from October this year. It will cost 1,000 yen to park your car in the castle’s parking area. It’s felt that this is needed to help pay for the wear and tear that so many visitors is causing to the castle grounds. Another change is the development of other attractions and services for tourists in the town itself. If you walk straight out from the station to the main street that runs parallel to the railway, look to your left and several doors down on the right side of the street you will see the Attaka Plaza (あったかプラザ), a small, no frills café-restaurant that also has some coin lockers (I assume this is the same place mentioned by a22cricket). In the opposite direction, there is now a very cozy looking B&B in a restored machiya a few doors down on the right side of the street that also has a café. Past that on the left side there is a very nice looking Japanese style café in another restored machiya (Sorry! I didn’t get the names!). If you want to buy a bottle of water, continue along this street another 100 meters or so and you will find a tiny dark general store (The Showa period version of a convenience store) on the left side. Just across the street from this store and a bit to the left is a former sake brewery that is now being restored as a museum and tourist attraction. It is scheduled to open in the fall and I think it will contribute to a revival of this street as other visitor related businesses spring up between it and the station. The castle itself has gotten an “improvement” as well. The ladder to the top of the tenshu foundation, that you can see in Eric’s photo, has been replaced by a sturdy wooden staircase. I saw at least one daring young couple sitting with their legs dangling off the edge of one of the higher walls, and there were quite a few young children running around, so I fear that some kind of railing, fence or shrub barrier is also in Takeda Castle’s near future. If possible, avoid visiting Takeda Castle during weekends or holidays. I’ve heard that over the past 2 years or so it has become mobbed with visitors and long traffic jams crawl into the town and up to the official parking lot. I imagine that the hourly trains must get pretty crowded as well. Ah! One more thing – I didn’t see or notice any English signs or information anywhere, but I’m sure they will start to appear sooner than later.
  • Eric    October 16, 2012 at 10:39 PM
    Especially this time of year mountaintop castles are great. Thanks for the information about the city. It has been corrected. It looks like Wadayama and a couple nearby towns merged to create Asago-shi a couple years ago. Looking at the site, I'm amazed at how much information they have about the castle on the city website now that was not there before.
  • phibbyfan    October 14, 2012 at 11:00 PM
    After going to this castle and Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, I realize that I really enjoy Japan's mountain castles! I'm surprised it's not one of the official "top 3 mountain castles". Btw, the city is not Wadayama, it's Asago.
  • bryanbaier on My Page    February 13, 2012 at 10:19 PM
    This is my favorite of all castles. The location and the condition are spectacular. Go, have a picnic, and enjoy the Machu Pichu of Japan
  • Frank T. on My Page    November 28, 2011 at 12:07 AM
    Generally speaking, ruins don't excite me in the least, and I will not stop to check them out when driving past. Takeda, though, is surely in a class by itself when it comes to ruins. Someone here has compared them to Machu Picchu, and the comparison is apt. The ruins are not only extensive, but they are also well cleared of overgrowth and offer spectacular views of the valley below. Pack a lunch and have a picnic!
  • Eric    October 30, 2011 at 01:12 AM
    It's the name of the area Tanba Takeda 丹波竹田, but I don't know why it's called that. Anyway I doubt there's any relation to Shingen which is a completely different Takeda 武田 characters.
  • Shingen    October 29, 2011 at 09:48 PM
    I can't wait to see it! Why is it called Takeda Castle? Doesnt appear to be related to the Takeda at all. O_o
  • regan53    September 03, 2011 at 08:40 PM
    I visited on 24th August 2011. This place is brilliant – in my opinion, a must see for all castle enthusiasts. Stunning is an understatement. One can get there from Kyoto, perhaps after having been disappointed by Fukuchiyama (nice façade but that’s about it), or Himeji. The path to the top starts directly behind the station. It’s a steep 40 minutes haul, but worth every second. Keep an eye on the time as the trains are not that frequent.
  • Eric    May 18, 2011 at 07:33 PM
    Problem below is fixed. I don't know why it happened but will keep an eye on it.
  • Eric    May 18, 2011 at 03:42 PM
    Thanks. That's very weird. It's happening on every castle but only on the English page, not the Japanese language page. It wasn't doing that a couple days ago so I'll figure it out tonight, but thanks for the notification !!
  • Anonymous    May 18, 2011 at 12:05 AM
    Your Google Map link shows Maruoka castle in Fukui, not Takeda castle in Hyogo.
  • a22cricket on My Page    May 16, 2011 at 07:10 PM
    Amazing! A lady at the nearby tourist information center described it as "Japan's Machu Pichu" and she was right. Standing on the top and seeing the layered walls leading to the steep drops and the views beyond is definitely worth the long trip from Himeji. Takes about 90 minutes by train. Bring a snack because I had a hard time finding a restaurant in town.
  • a22cricket    May 16, 2011 at 06:40 PM
    Went to Takeda on 5/15/2011 and was amazed at the way the site is organized and maintained. The few signs and plaques, all in Japanese, are wooden so they blend in well with the surroundings. The few additions to the peak are benches and trees which only adds to the scenery instead of detracting from it like big, plastic signs and maps would. I spent about two hours at the top wandering and taking pictures. It was also one of the few times I wanted people in the pictures so that i could have a perspective of size. The maps from the train station/information center were very useful. All in Japanese though. I took the train from Himeji and many of the stops along the route have sites as well, such as a mine and an onsen. Check the train map in the trains and you can see what's at each station. The Takeda station staff was really friendly and helpful. Biggest problem I had was finding something to eat. If you go to the main street outside the train station and look left, you'll likely see a flashing light marking the only restaurant I could find. Strongly recommended site, especially while Himeji is under construction.
  • RaymondW on My Page    April 02, 2011 at 03:23 PM
    This castle is by far the most impressive castle ruin site that I have been to in Japan. The views from the top are spectacular and with the ishigaki layered in steps a la Machu Picchu-style, this mountaintop castle is definitely worth the long trip to remote northern Hyogo Prefecture. I took a series of JR trains, taking over 3.5 hours one-way to get there. There is a little tourist info office hidden in the JR Takeda Station. Drop in and see the model of the castle. It will give you a better appreciation of the castle layout when you get to the top. If you are in reasonable shape, it will take you less than 30 minutes to get to the top from the station. When you exit the station, go left, walk about 50 metres, go under the train tracks along something that looks like a drainage ditch under the train lines, turn left at the end, walk about 50 metres, and you will easily see the sign for the trailhead up to the castle. From there, the sign says that it is only 800m to the castle. If you are collecting the 100 Meijo Stamp for Takeda Castle, you can get it in the station. Also, there are some pretty good maps you can pick up at the tourist info office for free. According to the rating scale on this website, this site should probably only get two stars because it is a ruin without any reconstructions or original structures left. However, the view from the top, and the fact that the local government has cleared the area surrounding the castle site of vegetation has made this a great castle ruin to visit earning it four-stars for the views, location, and ishigaki.
  • Very happy art lady    October 22, 2008 at 04:02 PM
    Thank you so much for this whole site, and particularly for the information on accessing it. The only reason I came to visit the ruins in Takeda was because of the information you've collated here, and it was one of the most incredible scenes I've ever witnessed. A truly amazing climb, the reward being not only seeing what's left of the stonework and spatial plan, but also the tremendous views. Even the train ride was enjoyable. Thank you so much for the effort you've put into this whole site. Cheers!
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Asago, Hyogo Pref.
Takeda Castle views
Otemon Gate
otemon gate
stone walls and baileys castle town
stone walls stone walls, tenshu foundation
South Ninomaru and Minami Senjo South Ninomaru and Minami Senjo.
Hanayashiki Bailey tenshu foundation
South Ninomaru and Minami Senjo tiered baileys
Tenshu foundation South Ninomaru and honmaru
Otemon, Kita Senjo honmaru and tenshu foundation
stone walls of the Seimon gate map