The ruins of the 15th century Takeda Castle is dubbed as the Macchu Picchu of Japan mainly due to its location high on a mountain. It is famous for the sea of clouds phenomenon which gives the illusion that the castle ruins are floating in the sky. It is a popular destination for local Japanese tourists. When I visited, it seemed that I was the only foreign tourist there. This means that the local establishments are not used to dealing with foreigners. But, there is nothing to worry about, Japanese people aim to please and they will go out of their way to help you out if need be. You can make it easy for them by using a few Japanese words or photos of what you are looking for.
If you are visiting Takeda Castle to witness the sea of clouds, timing is crucial. Firstly, visit during the autumn months of September to November. Secondly, you must get there before 7 am otherwise, the sea of clouds will have already dissipated. Also, it should be noted that if you plan to trek all the way, it takes at least 45 minutes to over an hour via a mountain trail. A public bus can substantially shorten the distance but a hike from the drop off station to the ruins is inevitable, so gear up appropriately and prepare for some mud along the way. You may also take the opposite direction to get to Ritsuunkyo mountain where popular shots of Takeda Castle floating on a sea of clouds are usually taken. The first photo below was taken from Ritsuunkyo. It is impossible to get to the area in time for the sea of clouds if you are coming from outside Asago City. So, plan for an overnight stay in a nearby hotel prior to your Takeda Castle excursion.
Even without the sea clouds, the castle ruins and the panoramic views it offers are enough reasons for a visit. It makes for a good pairing with a Himeji day trip as it is just an hour’s train ride away.
How To Get to Takeda Castle Ruins By Train
- From Tokyo [4 hours 20 min.]
Tokyo Station -> Shinkansen -> Kyoto Station -> Limited Expressway (via San-in line) -> Wadayama Station-> JR Takeda Station
- From Kyoto [about 1 hour 50 min.]
Kyoto Station -> Limited Expressway (via San-in line) -> Wadayama Station-> JR Takeda Station
- From Osaka [about 2 hours and 10 min.]
Osaka Station -> Limited Express (via Fukuchiyama Line) -> Wadayama Station-> JR Takeda Station
- From Kobe [about 2 hours]
Kobe Station -> Limited Express (via Bantan Line) -> Wadayama Station -> JR Takeda Station
- From Himeji [about 1 hour 10 min.]
Himeji Station -> Limited Express (via Bantan Line) -> Wadayama Station -> JR Takeda Station.
Note: Takeda Castle Ruins is open from 8am to 6pm. It is usually closed from January to the end of February (maybe from December to March, depending on the weather and snow situation). Check out the city’s website for updates on opening hours: https://www.city.asago.hyogo.jp/kankou/eng/TakedaCastle.html