Remains of Ako Castle

Remains of Ako Castle: Address, Phone Number, Remains of Ako Castle Reviews: 3.5/5

Remains of Ako Castle
3.5
Historic Sites • Points of Interest & Landmarks
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J&S_Singapore
By J&S_Singapore
赤穂城
Sep 2019
We have been to Sengakuji (泉岳寺) Temple in Tokyo back in 2014, impressed with the story and history, a trip here will likely complete a mini ‘pilgrim’.. Banshu-Ako Station along the main JR Kobe Line (Ako Line) but note another service requires changing Line at Aioi. Within the sta you knew abt the 47 Ronins story with all the posters and coming celebration on 14th Dec Anniversary every year! A 15 mins stroll to the entrance. But we recommend dropping by a shop 巴屋本店 just opposite the traffic junction, nice tasting cookies (see pic). Not advertising but Ako is famous for salted caramel, as we learned in the Museum. We entered through the Ninomaru main gate and main corner turret, which are located around the front entrance. A short bridge built over the (former) castle moat and entered the castle grounds. Upon entering it’s the usual classic zigzagging stone wall and gates facing different angles, a challenge for intruders! This was built by the Lord of Ako Asano in 1661 and becomes Ako Landmark! It is unique in that it does not have a castle keep.., however, visitors can admire the fine stone walls and entrance gate as well as a number of yagura or turrets. More a ruins as there are not many of the rock-concrete structures left. Within the grounds of the castle are the delightful Ninomaru Gardens and Oishi Shrine, dedicated to the leader of the 47 ronin, Yoshio Oishi and also some residences remain (incl that of Oishi). The castle is surrounded by the mountains and also both the Chikusa River and the Seto Inland Sea. For its historic value and reference the castle has been designated as a national historic site, Pair this visit with the nearby Shrine and even the Museum to have a feel of Ako’s glorious side.  It is all nearby. We left after an hour, good experience. This would be the number 15 castles (incl ruins) we visited..

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3.5
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Excellent
18
Very good
72
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79
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9
Terrible
2

Just-Julie-Cairns
Cairns, Australia886 contributions
Jul 2014 • Family
My main aim my last trip to Japan was to visit as many castles as I could in the timeframe. Some of them were castle ruins and Ako Castle was on my list purely due to the story that interested me about the 47 Ronin. The Castle is really just ruins as it is stated but you can see the layout of the palace inside the walls. We did spend quite a bit of time here reading the information about the palace layout which by the way is in Japanese only. If you are heading to Ako and want to visit the Castle ruins and also the shrine my advise is to read about the 47 Ronin so you have an idea of what happened in this area and you may appreciate the castle and the statues at the entrance of the shrine. This Castle ruin may not be for everyone but for those who are passionate about Japanese history you will find this a very interesting place to visit.
Written July 31, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mish_H50
Japan386 contributions
Jan 2019 • Friends
Not a lot to see, but pretty and picturesque, its worth a visit if you had planned to stop in the town. the story of the domain daimyo and how he was assassinated and his assassins celebrated is also fascinating.
Written January 20, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

ART196
244 contributions
Jan 2016 • Solo
Akōjō began as a satellite castle of Okayamajō in 1573. It came under Asano Naganao’s dominion in 1615. In 1648 Asano Naganao was ordered to expand the castle. This took 13 years over which period 12 gates and 10 yagura were constructed. There is a tenshukakudai, or donjon base, but no keep was ever constructed on it as the permission to build one was never received from Edo. Bureaucracy for you. The most interesting thing about Akōjō is the innovative ishigaki (stone walls) shape of arrowhead corners jutting out. These increased firing range and defensive capability. You can see their layout easily on satellite pictures of the castle, it’s like Akōjō was an early version of star-shaped castle, something in its completed form the Japanese would later learn from the Europeans. The castle was dismantled in 1873 under new Meiji laws, but it is slowly being reconstructed even now. The Honmaru appears to retain the foundations of a palatial structure and encloses the tenshukakudai, which looks like a stone-clad tumulus. I couldn’t enter the Honmaru. I didn’t arrive too late but it was closed, possibly for reconstruction work, or because it was still close to New Year, I don’t know. So I couldn’t get a good look at the tenshukakudai unfortunately. The Ninomaru now contains a garden full of cherry blossom trees. I went in but the flowers were out of bloom of course. There is another bailey, possibly the Sannomaru, which is off limits. They seem to be building more gardens. All in all, this means I’ll have to go back to Akōjō at some point. The castle town is living up to its ancestry and there are many buildings built in the unique Edo-era style. Also let me say that the remaining moats are extensive, and this castle is closely linked with water. Inner and outer moat remain, and an off-shoot moat half-encompasses a fourth, northern bailey, which is the site of Ōishi-jinja*. Between the outer and inner moat there are several large ponds. The moats themselves are home to water fowl, including black swans. The castle used to be on the sea (now the coast has been expanded and contains refineries), and ships would dock within the castle’s moat. Excavations and reconstruction efforts are ongoing to the west of the castle. I “got lost” and wondered around there, very promising. Reconstructed buildings include Yagura and gates and connecting walls. The ishigaki are also in very good condition.

* Ōishi-jinja, this shrine is dedicated to the memory of the 47 Ronin. I’ll do some research on why and post the pictures of the statues of them which line the shrine’s causeway if people are interested. They were still hosting New Year celebrations when I visited the shrine and so I took the opportunity to get some yakisoba and okonomiyaki. Greasy, greasy festival food < 3 (it’s “Oishii,” get it? ; ) )
Written April 21, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

zee1angel
Saint Leonard, MD470 contributions
Jun 2015 • Couples
The castle was built by the first Lord of Ako, Naganao Asao in 1661. As it states, this is “Remains” of Ako Castle with no actual castle there now. There are just the land, walls, some gates, outer moats, and the base of the palace… However, several other sightseeing spots such as Oishi Shrine and Oishi Garden are within walking distance, where you can visit and see the statues of 47 Ronin, as well as a small museum.
It is 15 minutes’ walk from Banshu Ako station. We took Ako Line from JR Himeji Station. Once you get on the train, getting to Ako from Himeji is about 30 minutes. There are limited numbers of trains running on Ako Line. If you miss one, you’ll end up waiting for another one for a while… so make sure you check the train schedule!
Visiting here may not be as exciting for those who are not familiar with its history. But for those who love the story of Chushingura, such as myself, visiting the homeland of 47 ronin means a lot. If you want to know what “Bushido - The way of Samurai” and their loyalty are, this is one ultimate example! I truly enjoyed my visit, although I can’t deny that there were times I felt sentimental.
If you are planning on visiting here, I would recommend checking into its history, as well as the famous Chushingura story prior to your visit. You can pick up an English brochure at an information center at Banshu Ako train station which gives very limited information on several sightseeing spots in the area, but other than that, you’ll see almost NO English translations (except for some road signs) anywhere even at the museum, and you may quickly get bored.

I am including the brief story of The 47 Ronin here, for those who are interested in reading:
(Note: These all happened in Edo, now Tokyo, not in Ako. Ako is Asano clans and their retainers’ homeland.)
It all started on March 14th, 1701, in Edo (now Tokyo), when Asano Takuminokami Naganori, the grandson of the first Lord of Ako, the master of the famous 47 Ronins, drew his sword at Shogun’s palace - Edo Castle. Lord Asano was chosen to entertain envoys from the imperial family. Kozukenosuke Kira, who was assigned to instruct Asano in matters of protocol for his new duty, didn’t like Asano for not giving him enough bribe so he continued to insult Asano publicly. After two months of Kira’s “abuse”, Asano couldn’t take it anymore. He pulled his sword, wounding Kira slightly on his forehead. Drawing swords was forbidden at the shogun’s palace and Asano was immediately sentenced to commit seppuku (suicide) by Shogun Tsunayoshi’s order. Asano’s estate was abolished and his retainers became ronin (masterless samurais). Asano’s loyal samurais (ronins) were not happy with the Shogun’s decision. They felt it was unfair that Kira went unpunished for his improper actions but their master had to pay with his life. They decided to avenge their Lord Asano’s disgrace by killing Kira, whose ugly demeanor drove their master to finally lose his tolerance which brought misery to all Asano clan and their people. Kuranosuke Oishi, the head chamberlain for the Asano estate, became the leader of the ronin and orchestrated the attack. On December 14th, 1702, after careful and secret planning, the 47 ronin attacked Kira’s mansion and succeeded in paying off the revenge. They found Kira hiding in a small storage building on the property and brought him out to the courtyard. Kuranosuke Oishi keeled before him, respectfully announcing that they were Asano’s retainers and that they had come to avenge him as true samurai should. They offered Kira a chance to honorably commit seppuku, which their master was ordered to do. As Kira refused to do so, they beheaded him. They returned to Asano’s grave at Sengaku-ji Temple and set Kira’s head before their master, then surrendered themselves to the shogunate authorities to complete their mission. Shogun Tsunayoushi was impressed by the ronin’s royalty, had a hard time making a decision in their punishment, but finally ordered them to execute themselves, not as criminals, but as honored warriors. They all bravely committed seppuku on February 4th, 1703.
Written July 3, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Warner L
Pasadena, CA668 contributions
Nov 2019
If you study the 47 Ronin or are interested, this is where the story starts. This was the home of the Asano clan, a rather rich family. This area was rich in salt and every society has needed salt. What remains is the one guard turret a gate and passageway into the former grounds. There is so much more than the eye sees.
Written November 25, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

J&S_Singapore
Singapore, Singapore3,462 contributions
Sep 2019
We have been to Sengakuji (泉岳寺) Temple in Tokyo back in 2014, impressed with the story and history, a trip here will likely complete a mini ‘pilgrim’..
Banshu-Ako Station along the main JR Kobe Line (Ako Line) but note another service requires changing Line at Aioi. Within the sta you knew abt the 47 Ronins story with all the posters and coming celebration on 14th Dec Anniversary every year! A 15 mins stroll to the entrance. But we recommend dropping by a shop 巴屋本店 just opposite the traffic junction, nice tasting cookies (see pic). Not advertising but Ako is famous for salted caramel, as we learned in the Museum.
We entered through the Ninomaru main gate and main corner turret, which are located around the front entrance. A short bridge built over the (former) castle moat and entered the castle grounds. Upon entering it’s the usual classic zigzagging stone wall and gates facing different angles, a challenge for intruders!
This was built by the Lord of Ako Asano in 1661 and becomes Ako Landmark! It is unique in that it does not have a castle keep.., however, visitors can admire the fine stone walls and entrance gate as well as a number of yagura or turrets.
More a ruins as there are not many of the rock-concrete structures left. Within the grounds of the castle are the delightful Ninomaru Gardens and Oishi Shrine, dedicated to the leader of the 47 ronin, Yoshio Oishi and also some residences remain (incl that of Oishi).
The castle is surrounded by the mountains and also both the Chikusa River and the Seto Inland Sea. For its historic value and reference the castle has been designated as a national historic site,
Pair this visit with the nearby Shrine and even the Museum to have a feel of Ako’s glorious side.  It is all nearby.
We left after an hour, good experience.
This would be the number 15 castles (incl ruins) we visited..
Written September 18, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Warner L
Pasadena, CA668 contributions
Oct 2018 • Solo
Another reason to visit Banshu-ako was the Ako Castle and there is more than you might expect; there are local people also interested in the 47 Ronin and many dress up and greet visitors, I spent well over 45 minutes just with them; some speak English and insist on taking pictures with the visitors using the visitor's cameras, creating a nice memory
Written November 11, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

fionayyy
Hong Kong, China218 contributions
Sep 2017 • Solo
A spot to drop by in you're in the area. No actual castle, just the remains and markings of where the originals buildings/rooms are. It's right next to the history museum. There's also a small garden.
Written October 6, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Lara N
Takamatsu, Japan147 contributions
Aug 2016 • Family
Historically there was never a real castle, only a fortification around a palace, so today there is very little left but the gate, walls and moat. Though it is probably not a destination on its own, it is a great addition to a walking tour of the pretty town of Ako. The gate makes a great photo opportunity, so be sure to stop by if you are in the area.
Written August 17, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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