Castles of Kyoto

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This page is a placeholder for thematic maps and collections of castles found in Kyoto. There are more topics to come. This first topic on the mountain passes between Shiga and Kyoto is a proof-of-concept. The map is a little rough.

Passes of Higashiyama

The Higashiyama mountain area, also known as the "36 Peaks of Higashiyama" (東山三十六連峰) is a mountain range that divides Kyoto from Shiga and Lake Biwa. There were three main passes over these mountains that were used for both commerce and for the movement of military troops. As such there were also castles and outposts built along these trails at different times. These passes are outlined below with some of the key castles along the routes.

Shiratori-goe Pass (Ichijojiyama Castle, Enryakuji Ichijoji Castle, Tsubokasayama Castle (Shiga)) is the northernmost of the main passes and connects the Ichijoji area of Kyoto to Anou on the Shiga side. It was also used as a staging area for the Asakura/Asai attacks on Kyoto.

Yamanaka-goe Pass (Shogunyama Castle, Yamanaka Castle, Usayama Castle (Shiga)) is the next and probably easiest of the three main passes to cross. From the Kyoto side the Hieizan Driveway follows the Yamanaka-goe up to the Hieidaira Plain.

Nyoi-goe Pass (Nyoigatake Castle, Haiyama Castle) is the southernmost and connects Otsu to Kitashirakawa as well . It has a nice full hiking trail from Miidera on the Shiga side to just south of Ginkakuji on the Kyoto side.

Woodland Kyoto


Similar to Tokyo and Osaka, Kyoto is not just the city of Kyoto but it is also a prefecture that is much larger than the city itself with many other cities and municipalities. The Prefecture has recently developed a tourism campaign to encourage Kyoto travelers to explore other parts of Kyoto too. The prefecture has been divided into three regions, each with their own thematic advertising: Kyoto by the Sea, Woodland Kyoto and Kyoto Tea Country. The region between the Japan Sea and Kyoto City is called Woodland Kyoto or Mori no Kyoto. It is also an area very rich in castles and castle ruins so one of the themes for Woodland Kyoto is castle tourism.

Here are the castles highlighted by the Woodland Kyoto campaign. I've now been to all but 3 of them and will be adding the links here as I complete the profiles over the next few months. So far all the castles I visited are well preserved, have great features and well worth your time. The only problem is that some are very remote with few busses so if you're traveling by public transportation it can take a whole day to visit just one. In these cases I also visited nearby lesser known ruins which I will highlight in the Visit Notes for each profile.

For more information, see the Woodland Kyoto Castle Touring page. Gojoin (memorial cards of a castle visit) are available for each of these from nearby convenience stores as well. Since the campaign started, they have also held a Woodland Kyoto castle festival with castle tours and added some new castles so I sincerely hope they further expand upon this campaign to bring attention to these lesser known but well preserved castle sites.

  1. Waroji Castle*
  2. Tanba Kameyama Castle
  3. Maruoka Castle
  4. Yagi Castle
  5. Kannosan Castle
  6. Habu Castle
  7. Shishido Castle
  8. Sonobe Castle
  9. Shuuchi Castle
  10. Shuzan Castle
  11. Nakabatake Castle
  12. Yamaga Jin'ya
  13. Kanbayashi Castle
  14. Obatake Castle
  15. Kohmori Castle*
  16. Izaki Castle
  17. Fukuchiyama Castle

*Waroji Castle and Kagomori Castle are currently off limits due to fallen trees and poor trails.

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