5 Must-See Castles in Autumn | Japan Guide

While Japan’s castles are beautiful at any time of the year, many are surrounded by deciduous trees that create vistas of vibrant red, orange and yellow in the autumn. Here are our five top picks for fall viewing!

No.5 Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)

Reference: flickr

Registered as a National Treasure of Japan, Matsumoto Castle’s black walls and roofs are particularly striking against a bright blue autumn sky. Its beauty is accentuated by the surrounding red leaves, which reflect in the waters of the castle moat. Matsumoto Castle is one of the best-recognized of Japan’s 12 original construction castles, and the nearest one to Tokyo.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Late October to early November

4-1 Marunouchi, Matsumoto-shi, Nagano

Matsumoto Station, 15 minute walk

8:30 to 17:00 (until 18:00 around Obon and Golden Week)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.4 Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle (Fukushima)

Reference: flickr

Also known as Tsuruga Castle, Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle is surrounded by gardens where you can see the trees changing colors from every angle. The stunning scene is illuminated at night from late October to mid-November.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Late October to mid-November

1-1 Outemachi,Aizu-Wakamatsu City,Fukushima,965-0873 Japan

Wakamatsu Station (Ban'etsu Saisen), 30 minute walk or 10 minutes by bus

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.3 Hikone Castle (Shiga)

Reference: flickr

Registered as a National Treasure, Hikone Castle is one of Japan’s 12 remaining original-construction castles. The castle is clearly visible above nearby Genkyu-en Garden, which takes on beautiful shades of red and orange in the fall, along with stunning nighttime illumination.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Late November to early December

1-1 Konki-cho, Hikone, Shiga Prefecture 522-0061, Japan

From JR Hikone Station to Hikone Castle area it takes about 10 minutes on foot.

Opening Hours: 8:30〜17:00

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.2 Matsue Castle (Shimane)

Reference: flickr

Another of Japan’s 12 original-construction castles, Matsue Castle’s swooping roofs are said to resemble a bird in flight, giving it the nickname Plover Castle, or “Chidori-jo.” Trees can be found changing color in the surrounding gardens and along the extensive moats beyond, which you can tour in a cruise on a little boat.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Mid to late November

1-5, Tonomachi, Matsue-shi, Shimane, 690-0887, Japan

2 kilometres from JR Matsue Station. 10 minutes by Ichibata bus, disembark at Kencho-mae bus stop 

Open 7 days a week
[Entry to the Central Bailey]
Apr.-Sept. 7:00 - 19:30
Oct.-Mar. 8:30 - 17:00
[Entry to the Castle Tower]
Apr.-Sept. 8:30 - 18:30 (Entry by 18:00)
Oct.-Mar. 8:30 -17:00 (Entry by 16:30)

Hotel: Booking here!!

No.1 Okayama Castle (Okayama)

Reference: flickr

Okayama Castle’s unique black walls have given it the nickname Crow Castle, or “U-jo.” It takes on special beauty in the fall when surrounded by red and orange leaves under a clear blue sky. Be sure to head to neighboring Okayama Korakuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, for an especially stunning view.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Mid to late November


About 30 minutes to Okayama Station from Okayama Airport by bus
From Okayama Station, take the Okaden Bus bound for “Okaden Takaya” or the Ryobi Bus bound for “Saidaiji” via “Higashiyama”(Higashiyama-keiyu Saidaiji). Get off at “Kencho-mae”. The castle is five minutes by walk from the bus station.

Opening hours:
9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (The castle can be entered until 5 p.m.)

closed days:
December 29, 30, and 31

Hotel: Booking here!!