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Takashima Castle

A 400-year-old Japanese castle that once floated on the water of Nagano's largest lake.

By Abhijit Sen

The century-old Takashima castle on Lake Suwa is considered one of Japan’s top three lake castles, along with Zeze Castle on Lake Biwa (Shiga Prefecture) and Matsue Castle on Lake Shinji (Shimane Prefecture). This castle has an interesting historical context, and the geographical location is also quite important.

Before knowing more about Takashima Castle, one must know about the famous lake on which this “floating castle” is located. Both castle and the lake are in Suwa, southeast of Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture. Lake Suwa is one of Japan’s most famous lakes and has been featured in several movies and anime.

Unique construction

Photo by: WikiCommons/ 663highland A natural moat to guard the castle.

In 1592, Takashima Castle was built by Lord Hineno, a vassal of Hideyoshi Toyotomi. Takashima Castle was initially built on a small island extending into Lake Suwa. After completing construction, the water of the lake reached the edge of the castle and it looked like the structure of the was castle suspended over the lake. Hence it became known as “the floating castle of Suwa.” The lake itself was there as a natural moat on the three sides of the castle.

Today, the situation has changed. Over time, urbanization took place around Lake Suwa. The lakeshore has moved away from the castle and parts of the castle’s structure were reconstructed in the 1970s. Only the northern and eastern sides of the moat and the inner garden are preserved.

The seasonal attractions of the garden

Photo by: iStock/663highland Lush, green gardens await you in summer.

The castle garden is very beautiful and has trees that bloom in different seasons. It becomes more popular when the cherry blossoms bloom in spring or the red leaves come in autumn. But its beauty does not diminish a bit on a snowy winter day.

Inside Takashima castle

Photo by: WikiCommons/ Blazeman A view of modern-day Suwa.

The Suwa clan ruled the area around Lake Suwa for hundreds of years and it is quite interesting to know about that history. The first floor provides some special exhibitions on Suwa’s traditional events and tourist information, and the materials related to Takashima Castle are displayed on the second floor. From the small observatory room on the third floor, you can see the snow-capped Japanese Alps, Suwa city and the peak of Mount Fuji on a clear day.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

The inner garden area of the castle is free to visit, but there is an entrance fee to the museum and the observatory on the third floor. It is ¥310 for adults and ¥150 for children.

The castle’s opening hours are usually 9 a.m. to 5:30 pm, but from Oct. 1 to Mar. 31, it closes at 4:30 p.m.

How To Get There


By train

Using the JR Chuo main line takes about a 10 to 13-minute walk from Kamisuwa station. 

By car

It takes 15 minutes from the Suwa Interchange of Chuo expressway by car.

Where To Stay

Kamisuwa Onsen Rako Hananoi Hotel
  • 2-1200-3 Takashima, Suwa-shi, Nagano, 392-0022 Japan
  • ¥8,070 - ¥9,060
  • 4.21/5 (2,834 reviews)
  • 0.7 km
Kamisuwa Station Hotel
  • 4-10-15 Kogandori, Suwa-shi, Nagano, 392-0027 Japan
  • ¥7,150 - ¥8,350
  • 4.38/5 (2,153 reviews)
  • 0.8 km
Kamisuwa Onsen Hamanoyu
  • 3-3-10 Kogandori, Suwa-shi, Nagano, 392-0027 Japan
  • ¥41,800 - ¥75,240
  • 4.44/5 (1,069 reviews)
  • 1.0 km
Kamisuwa Onsen Hotel Beniya
  • 2-7-21 Kabushikigaishiya Hoterubeniya, Suwa-shi, Nagano, 392-8577 Japan
  • ¥8,700 - ¥22,100
  • 4.37/5 (1,215 reviews)
  • 1.2 km
Kamisuwa Onsen Shinyu
  • 2-6-30 Kogandori, Suwa-shi, Nagano, 392-0027 Japan
  • ¥11,550 - ¥56,160
  • 4.54/5 (1,889 reviews)
  • 1.3 km

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