The Dog Castle in Aichi
Inuyama Castle is a historical fortified monument located in the eponymous city, 25 kilometers north to Nagoya in Aichi prefecture. Built in 1537, it is the oldest wooden castle in Japan. Its upper floor commands a view over the former feudal town and the Kiso River.
There are only twelve original castles left in Japan and Inuyama's, erected by Oda Yojiro Nobuyasu (Nobunaga’s grandfather) in 1537 is one of them. The name of this charming town, located in Aichi Prefecture, literally means "the dogs' mountain" and the mascot of the city, a small dog with a kawaii samurai helmet, is called WanMaru-kun (wan is the Japanese onomatopoeia for the barking).
Half an hour by train 🚅 from Nagoya, Inuyama is the ideal excursion for a half a day trip, from Kyoto or Osaka. From Inuyama station, only a few minutes’ walk is necessary to reach a shopping street announcing the castle 🏯 nearby. Even if it's raised on the mountain, it's quite small and not that visible from the outside. There is also an opportunity to enjoy a Shinto shrine to get there.
Japan’s oldest wooden castle
Upon entering the castle’s grounds, you'll arrive in a very charming courtyard punctuated by momiji 🍁 and sakura 🌸 (depending on the season). To get inside the castle, you'll have to take off your shoes because, like in Himeji, original wooden floors of this national treasure should be preserved. Be careful because the floor may be slippery (and cold in winter!) and the stairs are very steep.
As you climb up the stairs, the space narrows (from 282m² on the ground floor to a mere 50m² at the top). From the fourth and top floor of Inuyama Castle, you can enjoy a stunning 360 degree view over the city and the nearby Kiso River flowing through the north.
If you want to continue your visit in Inuyama, you can head to the south-east from the city center to go to Meiji Mura, a history amusement park (as there are dozens in Japan) dedicated to the famous Meiji era.