Picturesque castle town with unlikely international connections
The former site of Shikano Castle and the charming town that surrounds it have a long and understated history. Spend half a day here and soak in the atmosphere of this bygone seat of power.
Stroll through the quiet and well-kept streets of the former castle town
Watch a play at the Bird Theater Company
Enjoy the views from the ruins of Shikano Castle
How to Get There
Take the Shikano-yuki Bus from Hamamura Station. Hamamura Station is on the JR Sanin Main Line.
The domain of a great general
Kamei Korenori, Lord of Shikano Castle, was born in Izumo Province (now part of Shimane Prefecture) in 1557. Loyal to the Amago Clan, Korenori spent the first half of his life opposed to his bitter enemies, the Mori Clan in neighboring Yamaguchi Prefecture. Korenori joined forces with his brother-in-law to fight the cause of the Amago Clan and achieved a short-lived victory in 1551. Korenori later joined forces with the great Japanese warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified japan after decades of civil war in the 16th century. Under Hideyoshi’s leadership, Korenori helped take Tottori again from the Mori, and was placed in control of the Shikano area. After Hideyoshi’s death, Korenori served Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the first Tokugawa Shogun in 1603.
A place of exotic secrets
Korenori became renowned as a skilled negotiator with a strong interest in foreign trade. He fought in the invasion of Korea and facilitated trade with Siam, now Thailand. Inspired by his dealings with foreign lands, he modernized his castle and made improvements to the surrounding town. It is said that he changed the name of the castle to Ousha Castle, after a Buddhist center in India, and also named gun turrets after Holland and Korea. His castle was a thing of exotic beauty and this legacy can still be seen to the present day in the attractive design of the castle’s moat area. Stop for a moment to feed the magnificent carp under the watchful eye of the resident swan. The remains of the castle are found on top of Mt. Shiroyama. The maple-lined path leading up to the ruins is beautiful in fall, while the cherry blossom trees lining the moat are spectacular in spring.
A charming townscape
In keeping with the tradition started by their former lord, the streets of this former castle town are eye-catching and well-kept. Like other castle towns, the streets are named after the tradesmen that once plied their trade in that area. The “metal worker” and “carpenter” streets are two intersecting and authentic streets at the town’s center. Koseji, an attractive temple of the Pure Land sect of Buddhism, is located near the town’s visitor center.
A new legacy
Next to the moat of the former castle is a new addition to the town’s cultural heritage, Bird Theater. Occupying the former gymnasium of a closed-down elementary school and adjoining nursery school, the theater maintains the town’s international links by hosting a festival with overseas guest performers for two weeks every year.
Shikano Castle and its surrounding town offer a unique glimpse into Japan’s history and its connections to the wider world. From the domain of a great general to a place of exotic secrets, this picturesque castle town is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.
The town’s history is deeply intertwined with the life of Kamei Korenori, the Lord of Shikano Castle. Born in Izumo Province in 1557, Korenori was a loyal supporter of the Amago Clan and spent much of his life opposing their enemies, the Mori Clan. He achieved a short-lived victory in 1551 when he joined forces with his brother-in-law to fight for the Amago Clan. However, his fortunes changed when he aligned himself with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a powerful warlord who unified Japan in the late 16th century.
Under Hideyoshi’s leadership, Korenori played a key role in the conquest of Tottori from the Mori Clan. As a reward for his loyalty, he was placed in control of the Shikano area and became the lord of Shikano Castle. After Hideyoshi’s death, Korenori continued to serve the Tokugawa Shogunate under Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty.
But Korenori’s legacy goes beyond his military achievements. He was also known for his interest in foreign trade and his efforts to modernize Shikano Castle and its surrounding town. Inspired by his interactions with foreign lands, he renamed the castle Ousha Castle after a Buddhist center in India and named gun turrets after Holland and Korea. The castle’s moat area, with its attractive design, reflects this exotic influence. Visitors can even feed the carp in the moat under the watchful eye of a resident swan.
The remains of Shikano Castle can be found on top of Mt. Shiroyama, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The path leading up to the ruins is particularly beautiful during the fall season when the maple trees are ablaze with color. In spring, the cherry blossom trees lining the moat create a stunning display of pink and white blooms.
The town itself is a testament to the legacy of its former lord. The streets are well-kept and visually appealing, with each street named after the tradesmen who once worked there. Two intersecting streets, known as the “metal worker” and “carpenter” streets, provide an authentic glimpse into the town’s history and craftsmanship. Near the town’s visitor center, visitors can find Koseji, a beautiful temple belonging to the Pure Land sect of Buddhism.
One of the town’s newest additions is the Bird Theater, located next to the former castle’s moat. Housed in the former gymnasium of a closed-down elementary school, the theater continues to foster the town’s international connections. Every year, it hosts a festival featuring guest performers from overseas, showcasing the town’s cultural diversity and artistic talent.
In conclusion, Shikano Castle and its surrounding town offer a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and international connections. From the domain of a great general to a place of exotic secrets, this picturesque castle town is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Whether strolling through the streets, enjoying a play at the Bird Theater, or taking in the views from the castle ruins, visitors will be captivated by the charm and atmosphere of this remarkable destination.
Address And Maps Location:
2489 Shikano-cho Shikano, Tottori-shi, Tottori-ken