Frank t.'s Homepage

137 Castle Visits  
  1. Aizu Wakamatsu Castle
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    This castle is very much in the mold of Osaka and Nagoya Castles. If you don't mind a large concrete reconstruction for the keep, there are plenty of other things to see.
  2. Akashi Castle
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  3. Akita Castle
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  4. Ako Castle
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  5. Amagajo
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  6. Arato Castle
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  7. Aya Castle
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  8. Azuchi Castle
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  9. Bitchu Matsuyama Castle
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    This site is not as convenient as most of the other original castle sites, but it's worth a visit because of that. It was not at all crowded either time I visited. In fact, there were few other people. From that point of view, I would rather go to sites like this than the more popular ones that get the crowds.
  10. Chiran Castle
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  11. Echizen Ohno Castle
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  12. Edo Castle
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  13. Fukuchiyama Castle
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  14. Fukuoka Castle
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    There is no keep, but the grounds are extensive, and there's enough to make it interesting and worth a visit. Besides, Fukuoka is a great town.
  15. Fukuyama Castle
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  16. Funai Castle
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  17. Fushimi Castle
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  18. Gifu Castle
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  19. Goryokaku Fort
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  20. Gujo Hachiman Castle
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  21. Hachinohe Castle
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  22. Haga Castle
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  23. Hagi Castle
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  24. Hamamatsu Castle
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  25. Hekirichi Jinya
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  26. Hikone Castle
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  27. Himeji Castle
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    (In hushed tones of awe and reverence): This is the king of Japanese castles; there is none higher. . . . Unfortunately, everybody in the Japanese islands knows that and can afford the price of admission. There are ALWAYS crowds here. There's no way around it, though, and you can mitigate the crowd factor by visiting on a weekday, I suppose. Be sure to explore the grounds since there's so much more going on than just the keep, spectacular as it is. Imagine a Japan where more castles had been left as intact as Himeji--not just the keep, but gates, turrets, moats, everything. As it is, we've only got 12 original keeps, and many of those sites have lost outlying parts. Too bad there was a vendetta against the feudal past during the Meiji Period.
  28. Hirado Castle
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  29. Hirosaki Castle
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    Not only is this one of the 12 original keeps still intact, but like other locations that are sufficiently far from a major metropolitan area, it was largely empty both times I visited. In fact, the first time I visited, I was able to ride my motorcycle onto the grounds, take photos and park near the keep, then explore on foot. The grounds and gardens here are among the best.
  30. Hiroshima Castle
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    Mountain and hilltop castles capture the imagination for obvious reasons. However, flatland castles require more--or at least different--engineering. Hiroshima Castle is a good example with moats, gates, bridges, baileys, and 90 degree turns.
  31. Hitoyoshi Castle
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  32. Hizen Nagoya Castle
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  33. Hotta no Saku
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  34. Iga Ueno Castle
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    What a disappointment. This castle is a reconstruction done in wood, true, but it was NOT done in the traditional way like Kakegawa, Ozu, or any number of other wooden reconstructions. The interior was done in a modern style with absolutely NO effort made to mimic the original. In addition to that, regardless of the quality of the park and ninja museum nearby, the latter attracts hordes of families with children when they are out of school. Try going on a weekday when school is in session.
  35. Ikeda Castle
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  36. Imabari Castle
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  37. Innoshima Suigun castle
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  38. Inuyama Castle
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  39. Iwakuni Castle
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    RaymondW below has done a good write up for Iwakuni, but it easily earns three stars. I give it 3.5 for all its merits.
  40. Iwasaki Castle
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  41. Iyo Matsuyama Castle
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    If Himeji is the best original Japanese castle site, this is a contender for the number two spot. Like Himeji, it attracts its fair share of crowds to deal with. The town is nice, and there are other attractions in the area. For example, Ozu Castle, a wooden reconstruction, is not too far away.
  42. Kakegawa Castle
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    Another reconstruction done the way it should be. Conveniently located on the way between Tokyo and Nagoya, this site is well worth a visit.
  43. Kakunodate Castle
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    The samurai quarter IS good, but you can see samurai quarters in other places more conveniently located and with castles to go along with them. I took the time to hike up to the actual site of the castle. It's a mosquito infested, overgrown lookout of the town with NOTHING else to see--not even stones.
  44. Kamei Castle
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  45. Kameyama Castle
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  46. Kaminoyama Castle
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  47. Kamioka Castle
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  48. Kanazawa Castle
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    No keep, but this is a great site. The town itself is worth the visit as well.
  49. Kannonji Castle
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  50. Karatsu Castle
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    This is a great little castle, mainly due to the view from the top and the view of the castle as you approach. By all means get a photo from the causeway similar to one posted here.
  51. Katsuren Castle
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    Strictly speaking, I don't think this can be considered a "Japanese" castle site, and I don't find Japanese castle ruins that interesting given the abundance of sites with actual buildings, whether original or reconstructed. However, these sites in Okinawa are worth a visit for the sake of understanding Okinawan history and culture. The view from the top of the ruins is good, too.
  52. Kawanoe Castle
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  53. Kikuchi Castle
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  54. Kinojo
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  55. Kishiwada Castle
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  56. Kitsuki Castle
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  57. Kiyosu Castle
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  58. Kochi Castle
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  59. Kokura Castle
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  60. Komaki Castle
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  61. Komoro Castle
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  62. Kubota Castle
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  63. Kumamoto Castle
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    Despite the fact that the keep is not original, this is one of the best castle sites. The grounds are extensive and there are many structures. I strongly recommend strolling the grounds at night since the structures are lit up. I can't wait to visit again and see the reconstructed palace.
  64. Kunohe Castle
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  65. Kurume Castle
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  66. Kururi Castle
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  67. Kushima Castle
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  68. Marugame Castle
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  69. Maruoka Castle
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  70. Matsue Castle
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    Granted, Matsue does not have as many other buildings as some other sites, but it has SO much going for it. Not only is the keep original. Not only are the grounds well kept and beautiful. Not only are there other points of interest--Lafcadio Hearn's house is on the north side of the castle, for example. No, on top of all this, each time I've been here, the place has been nearly empty, quite unlike the other top castle sites. Matsue cares for its castle, and it shows. When I visited they were setting up for festivals or other events on the east side. Presumably things would have been more lively than when I visited, but I wish I could have been there then. Matsue is EASILY my favorite castle site--disregarding Himeji since it's generally recognized as the best, and with apologies to Matsuyama.
  71. Matsumae Castle
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    This is the only traditional Japanese castle in all of Hokkaido, but not easy to get to without private transportation. The road from Hakodate can be long and winding if there's traffic since there's no way to pass. Otherwise, the coast road is not bad. Matsumae is a nice little town, but there's not much else this far down the coast.
  72. Matsumoto Castle
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    The keep is very photogenic, but I prefer other sites with fewer visitors and more extensive moats and grounds. The park is very well maintained. There's just not so much to see compared to other sites.
  73. Matsusaka Castle
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  74. Matsushiro Castle
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  75. Minakuchi Castle
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  76. Morioka Castle
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    Nice park, but nothing but stone walls. No buildings or plaster walls.
  77. Nagahama Castle
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  78. Nagoya Castle
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    The park is very nice, especially during hanami season, but it's popular and usually has plenty of visitors. Go on a weekday if you can.
  79. Nakamura Castle
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  80. Nakatsu Castle
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  81. Ne Castle
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  82. Nihonmatsu Castle
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  83. Nijo Castle
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  84. Nobeoka Castle
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  85. Obi Castle
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  86. Odawara Castle
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  87. Ogaki Castle
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  88. Okayama Castle
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  89. Okazaki Castle
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    How is it that the admin rating for this castle is two stars? Granted, it's a reconstruction, but the park is nice, the keep is not a small one, and the site is of some historical importance. Everyone, not only castle fans, can enjoy a visit here.
  90. Osaka Castle
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    This is a great first castle to visit. It's conveniently located in a major city near an international airport. It has all the features that can be found in Japanese castles--gates, moats, turrets, high walls of huge stones, and of course, the keep--so one can learn what to look for. Finally, it's historically important and has a very good museum. Since the keep is a concrete reconstruction, though, a visit here could be disappointing after a visit to another castle like Himeji. The grounds are extensive, but the outer areas are not well maintained. Go here first!
  91. Oshi Castle
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  92. Ozu Castle
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    There's not much to see here aside from the keep, but this is the way reconstructions should be done: in the traditional way with wood. It's nice to see more castles and palaces being rebuilt with traditional methods and materials.
  93. Saga Castle
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  94. Saiki Castle
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  95. Sasayama Castle
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  96. Sashiki Castle
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  97. Sekiyado Castle
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  98. Sendai Castle
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    The view of the town is great, and I enjoyed riding around the area, but there's really not much to see of the original site aside from walls, large as they may be. If you're going to Sendai, by all means visit this site. Otherwise, there are other places more worthwhile.
  99. Shibata Castle
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  100. Shichinohe Castle
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  101. Shimabara Castle
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    Looking for a place to park? No problem; the parking lot is right next to the keep. That's never a good sign.
  102. Shirakawa Castle
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    This is a very good reconstruction--it's wooden, after all--but the grounds need some serious attention, and not because of the earthquake. Both times I visited the weeds and overgrowth were horrendous. I guess they can't afford gardeners. Too bad, because the keep, wall, and gate do look great.
  103. Shiroishi Castle
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    Wood, stones, plaster, and tiles; it's about time somebody got it right. This is a small site, but the reconstruction was done the way it should be. It's so good to see reconstructions these days following this pattern. There weren't too many visitors when I was there, and that may be business as usual. The watchman inside seemed like he hadn't spoken to another human being in quite a while and pretty much insisted I try on the fake armor and gear for a photo. Outside the keep the local high school brass band members were practicing. Little things like this that happen by chance always make a castle visit stand out.
  104. Shiryokaku Fort
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  105. Shiwa Castle
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  106. Shuri Castle
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    This is neither Japanese nor a castle, but it is a very good reconstruction of the palace. The grounds are extensive and worth some time.
  107. Sumoto Castle
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  108. Sunomata Castle
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  109. Sunpu Castle
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  110. Takada Castle
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  111. Takamatsu Castle
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  112. Takashima Castle
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  113. Takato Castle
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  114. Takatori Castle
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  115. Takatsuki Castle
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  116. Takeda Castle
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    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!
  117. Tamaru Castle
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  118. Tanba Kameyama Castle
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  119. Tateyama Castle
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  120. Tatsuno Castle
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  121. Tatsuoka Castle
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    This is one of what I thought were only two western-style star forts in Japan until two more near Hakodate were recently posted on this site. These new two are small and not really stars but rather diamonds or rectangles. Tatsuoka is not as grand as Goryokaku in Hakodate, but it is a genuine star fort. It's occupied by an elementary school, although they don't seem to mind people walking around with cameras. As is often the case, I also pulled up my motorcycle on the grounds and parked. As long as you're not causing problems or arriving in large numbers, I don't think anybody will mind. Having said all that, Tatsuoka is historically interesting, but go to Goryokaku in Hakodate if you want to see a much better preserved star fort and feel free to explore it.
  122. Tomioka Castle
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  123. Toyama Castle
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    When I visited three years ago, there was a lot of activity going on behind the turret pictured here, so I don't know what the area looks like now. I assume there's been more reconstruction, and it would be interesting to go back and find out. Stop by if you're in the area. Otherwise, you're not missing much.
  124. Tsu Castle
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  125. Tsukikuma Castle
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  126. Tsuyama Castle
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  127. Ueda Castle
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  128. Usuki Castle
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  129. Uwajima Castle
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  130. Wakayama Castle
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  131. Yamagata Castle
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    I have been here a few times over the last several years, and there always seems to be something going on and something new. What's nice is they're doing things the right way--as authentically as possible. If I get the chance to stop by next year, it will be interesting to see what's new.
  132. Yamato Koriyama Castle
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  133. Yatsushiro Castle
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  134. Yokote Castle
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  135. Yoshida Castle
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  136. Yoshinogari
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  137. Yuzuki Castle
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