Minakuchi Castle

From Jcastle.info



Minakuchi Castle was built in 1634 as a fortified way station for when Tokugawa Iemitsu went from Tokyo to Kyoto. Kato Akitomo entered Minakuchi Castle in 1682 and formally established the state of Minakuchi. With one exception, the Kato family ruled over the castle until the coming of the Meiji Restoration when it was dismantled and parts were sold off. Since the castle was originally meant as a place for the shogun to rest on his way to Kyoto, it is said that the Kato rulers never used the palace in the honmaru that was built for the shogun. They built a separate residence in the Ninomaru.

Visit Notes

Most people will probably visit this castle for the reconstructed yagura, gate and bridge, but the large Edo Period stone walls are really the highlight of this castle. It is not huge, so I highly recommend walking the full circumference of the Honmaru to admire these walls. The museum inside the yagura has some nice displays including information about nearby Koka Castles. The first castle in Minakuchi, Minakuchi Okayama Castle, was actually built to the east of present day Minakuchi Castle by the order of Hideyoshi to help pacify the Koka region. The museum also had some information about two extant gates from samurai homes in the town so it was a good opportunity to find those as well (despite being the middle of a typhoon!).

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  • Original gate from a samurai home
  • Original gate from a samurai home
  • Original gate from a samurai home
  • Ichirizuka, distance marker along the Tokaido Road

Castle Profile
English Name Minakuchi Castle
Japanese Name 水口城
Alternate Names Okayama-jo, Hekisui-jo
Founder Tokugawa Iemitsu
Year Founded 1634
Castle Type Flatland
Castle Condition No main keep but other buildings
Designations Prefectural Historic Site
Historical Period Edo Period
Year Reconstructed 1991
Features gates, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls
Visitor Information
Access Minakuchijonan Sta. (Omi Tetsudo Line); 10 min walk
Visitor Information open 10am-5pm, close Thursday, Friday, and year end holidays; 100 yen
Time Required 45 mins
Website https://www.biwako-visitors.jp/spot/detail/882/
Location Koka, Shiga Prefecture
Coordinates 34° 58' 12.83" N, 136° 9' 55.69" E
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Added to Jcastle 2006
Contributor Eric
Admin Year Visited 2022
Admin Visits September 18, 2022
Friends of JCastle
Malcolm Fairman Photography - Minakuchi Castle
Kojodan - Minakuchi Castle
Shiro Meguri Fan - MInakuchi castle
Jokaku Horoki - Minakuchi Castle
Shirobito - Minakuchi Castle

(9 votes)
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28 days ago
Score 1++
I was able to re-visit at some point. It's a neat little site. The original castle was much larger, encompassing the adjacent sports field.


78 months ago
Score 1++
Well that's a first for me: this site is closed on thursdays and fridays. On these days there is no access to the inner compound. It's pretty from outside at least. I'm on my way to the ninja house now.


142 months ago
Score 0++
Went here after visiting another castle in the morning. It's reconstructed but the one staff member who was there when I went was incredibly friendly, she gave me tea while I was watching the video presentation.


142 months ago
Score 0++
I went there yesterday (May 4th,2011) and had a good time. The lady at the reception desk was extremely helpful and gladly pointed out where Minakuchi Okayama once stood. She even gave me directions on how to get there and where to park. I guess they don't get many visitors because she had to turn on the DVD player for the AV part of the tour, but she did give me a cup of tea while I sat and watched. Admission to the castle is 100 yen but for an extra 100 yen you can get admission to the Matsuri Donjiri museum on the other side of Minakuchijyonan Station. Worth it and even if you don't go to the Donjiri museum an extra 100 yen isn't that much for a small museum that likely faces the chopping block occasionally. I went here from Otsu but there's a connection at Omi Hachiman Station. I included the visit on a trip to another castle that finished up by 10 and I was in Minakuchi by noon. A little effort to get to but worth it for a great reproduction in a small town far from the crowds.


145 months ago
Score 0++
I went to this castle ruin in late February and was pleasantly surprised. I know they have reconstructed the demaru (出丸) of the castle ruin with a two-storey yagura (which was not there in the original castle) and two gates. However, once inside the yagura, I found it was a wooden reconstruction using Hinoki Cypress. The lady at the reception was very helpful. She even managed to find a simple explanation of the castle history in English which she gave me along with other pamphlets in Japanese. She also told me that they don’t get many visitors as most people go to the more famous and accessible castle sites like Azuchi, Hikone, and Nagahama. Inside the yagura is a nice little museum on the ground floor which includes a model of what the original castle looked like. Entry is a measly 100yen. Apart from the demaru, the honmaru is still around, but all the buildings and other yaguras are long gone. Instead, you will find a couple of baseball fields in the honmaru. There is still a water moat running around the honmaru. It is certainly worth walking around the outside of this castle ruin. It doesn’t take long to visit this castle site. I think if you spend around an hour here, it will be enough. If you have time, it may be worth your while to visit its older brother, Minakuchi-Okayama Castle Ruin located on hill nearby. There isn’t much up at the older castle site up on the hill, but the baileys are clearly marked, and there are some earthen embankments, dry moats, and some ishigaki remains (not much) to see.