Osaka Castle (Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture)
With easy access from Kansai International Airport (KIX) or JR Shin-Osaka station on the bullet train, Osaka Castle can be readily enjoyed year-round. Every summer from July 1st to September 30th the ever-popular Osaka Castle Summer Festival takes place on the spacious grounds of the castle’s park.
A hit with both locals and tourists, the event features traditional performances, a variety of live music, and food stalls selling yummy treats from across Japan. On the nearby Okawa River, take the Tenmabashi Night View Cruise (May 2nd to November 30th, excluding Mondays) to get a magnificent view of glowing Osaka Castle and the twinkling lights of the city. This autumn the Miraiza Osaka-Jo shopping and restaurant complex will open its doors, and in summer 2018 a new performing arts venue is set to launch.
Okayama Castle (Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture)
Built in 1597, Okayama Castle is often known as “Ujo” (“Crow” or “Raven”) Castle for its distinctive black-painted façade. The castle itself is an amazing sight, and the events that take place right across the river that cuts through Okayama Korakuen garden make the visit even more worthwhile.
Throughout August, Okayama Castle is strikingly lit up every night, with a simultaneous illumination display in the gardens. This is the only chance you’ll get to see this incredible combination of paper lanterns, floating lanterns, and candles with the illuminated castle as a backdrop.
This nocturnal stroll through one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens is a fantastical experience, with local food and drinks offering earthbound pleasures.
The paper fan-throwing event on August 7 is just one of the cultural experiences to be had.
Imabari Castle (Imabari City, Ehime Prefecture)
Located in northern Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku, Imabari Castle boldly faces the Seto Inland Sea and features a rare example of a moat that draws on sea water. From 30 minutes after sunset until 11 p.m. Imabari Castle is illuminated, with its majestic form reflected in the gently rippling waves.
On August 5th and 6th, see Imabari Castle in a new light courtesy of 10,000 fireworks set off at Imabari City’s annual Onmaku festival just 10 minutes away on foot. In the local dialect, “onmaku” means something like “Go all out!” And when you see how local residents participate in this festival with everything they’ve got, you’ll get caught up in it yourself!
The famous lion mask dance is just one of the many cultural highlights you’ll see when you spend a whole day here before Imabari castle lights up just for you.