Castle Condition

English Name Castle Condition
Japanese Name
Description Mainly indicates whether the main keep is original, reconstructed, or ruins. Many castles, you might even so most castles, throughout history did not have a typical main keep so they are classed as ruins or as a castle with no main keep but one that has other buildings

No main keep but other buildings

This category classifies all the castles that do no have a main keep, either original or reconstructed, but do have other buildings present (original or reconstructed). Some people are only interested in castles with a main keep so I created this new classification to bring attention to the many castles that may not have a large main keep but do have other buildings that would help you to enjoy the castle site.

Original main keep

There are only 12 castles with an original main keep. Wooden structures are very susceptible to fire and their height made them easy targets for lightning. Many of those that weren't destroyed in the Meiji Period were burned during WWII.

Reconstructed main keep

Many castle main keeps were built in the early years after WWII. They were often a source of pride for the people and their reconstructions were symbolic. These would include places like Nagoya Castle and Osaka Castle. There were also many smaller main keeps that were reconstructed over the years with varying degrees of authenticity. Some were made from concrete but a few were beautifully reconstructed using original materials and techniques such as Ozu Castle and Kakegawa Castle. These days, the Ministry of Education controls any construction on national historic sites so it has become very difficult to rebuild any structure, much less a main keep. Sufficient documentation of the original structure must be available to rebuild it authentically. This has become a big challenge to local municipalities who want to rebuild parts of their castles but it has also lead to some beautiful reconstructions such as the gates at Minowa Castle.

Ruins only

This category indicates that the castle does not have a main keep, either original or reconstructed, and has no other significant buildings to see. That does not mean they are not worth visiting. By different accounts, there existed between 3000 and 4000 castles throughout Japan in different time periods. Most of these have little if anything remaining to see, but some of them are truly gems. Some have beautiful stone walls hidden in the woods and even more have a variety of earthworks and trenches for castle fans to imagine what the castle once looked like. How did it make use of the terrain? How was it used in the network of nearby castles? Did it watch over a road or defend some valuable fields? What defensive structures can you see, either natural or man made? How could it be defended? or attacked? While it's fun to see beautiful wooden towers, I would argue that it is more fulfilling to climb a mountain while thinking about these questions in pursuit of discovering new insights about the people who built these castles.