|Founder||Yamato Court (Yamato Choutei)|
|Year Founded||7th C.|
|Castle Condition||No main keep but other buildings|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, National Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Pre Edo Period|
|Features||gates, stone walls|
|Access||Hattori Sta. (Kibi Line); 2000 yen Taxi or 5.5km hike (see notes below)|
|Location||Soja, Okayama Prefecture|
|Coordinates||34° 43' 42", 133° 45' 55"|
|Visits||November 20, 2010|
The history of Kinojo is unclear since it is not mentioned in any historical records. It is believed that it was built by the Yamato Court in the Seventh Century to defend from foreign invaders. There were some 30 castles built around that time in Western Japan, of which, 27 have been located. Kinojo was discovered in 1971 and is currently thought to be the oldest castle in Japan. The outer wall is approximately 2.8 km long, with 4 main gates and one large defensive platform.
The top of the mountain is relatively flat offering an enjoyable hike around the castle grounds. Be sure to walk the full length and enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding valleys. The closest station is Hattori Station which is about a 5.5km hike to the castle. The first 2.1km is relatively flat but the rest is all uphill. If you want to take a taxi it costs about 2000 yen but there are none waiting at the station. You need to reserve in advance. If you don't know where to call to make a reservation or can't speak Japanese, ask them to help you at the Tourist Information Center underground at Okayama Station. Taxis are relatively available at Soja Station but it will cost over 3000 yen.