Nagahama, a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, is a popular swimming and sailing resort in summer.
In winter, Nagahama and its marinas are virtually deserted, but the reconstructed Nagahama Castle is worth a visit if you happen to be in town or are passing through.
The original Nagahama Castle was constructed on the orders of the local warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) in the 16th century. Nagahama was Hideyoshi's first fief and he also resided in the castle for certain periods of time.
The castle was demolished by the Tokugawa regime in 1615 due to the "one province, one castle" regulation enforced to reduce the power of local feudal magnates (daimyo). Nearby Hikone Castle survived and some of Nagahama Castle's building materials were transported from Nagahama to reinforce Hikone Castle.
The current structure was reconstructed in 1983 following the advice of a professor of historical architecture from Tokyo Kogyo University (Tokyo Institute of Technology). The fortress contains a museum with displays of historic firearms, telescopes and samurai armor. The castle's top observation deck affords good views of Lake Biwa on a clear day.
Tel: 0749 63 4611
Admission 400 yen
Hours: 9am-5pm (last entrance 4.30pm)
A short walk from JR Nagahama Station on the JR Biwako Line (Hokuriku Line). Nagahama is about 90 minutes from either Kyoto or Nagoya by JR train via Maibara.
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