All About Japan

5 Must-See Castles in Autumn

| Castles , Autumn Colors

While Japan's castles are beautiful at any time of the year, many are surrounded by deciduous trees that create vistas of vibrant red, orange and yellow in the autumn. Here are our five top picks for fall viewing!

5. Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)

Registered as a National Treasure of Japan, Matsumoto Castle's black walls and roofs are particularly striking against a bright blue autumn sky. Its beauty is accentuated by the surrounding red leaves, which reflect in the waters of the castle moat. Matsumoto Castle is one of the best-recognized of Japan's 12 original construction castles, and the nearest one to Tokyo.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Late October to early November

4. Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle (Fukushima)

Also known as Tsuruga Castle, Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle is surrounded by gardens where you can see the trees changing colors from every angle. The stunning scene is illuminated at night from late October to mid-November.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Late October to mid-November

3. Hikone Castle (Shiga)

Registered as a National Treasure, Hikone Castle is one of Japan's 12 remaining original-construction castles. The castle is clearly visible above nearby Genkyu-en Garden, which takes on beautiful shades of red and orange in the fall, along with stunning nighttime illumination.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Late November to early December

2. Matsue Castle (Shimane)

Another of Japan's 12 original-construction castles, Matsue Castle's swooping roofs are said to resemble a bird in flight, giving it the nickname Plover Castle, or "Chidori-jo." Trees can be found changing color in the surrounding gardens and along the extensive moats beyond, which you can tour in a cruise on a little boat.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Mid to late November

1. Okayama Castle (Okayama)

Okayama Castle's unique black walls have given it the nickname Crow Castle, or "U-jo." It takes on special beauty in the fall when surrounded by red and orange leaves under a clear blue sky. Be sure to head to neighboring Okayama Korakuen Garden, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, for an especially stunning view.

Best Time for Autumn Colors: Mid to late November