Popularity of ‘Castle in the Sky’ leads to copycat campaigns


The recent popularity of the ruins of Takeda Castle, located atop a mountain in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture, and looking as if they are floating in the sky, has given impetus to the efforts of other sites across Japan that may boast similar scenery.

With its popularity on the rise, the number of tourists who visited Takeda Castle in fiscal 2013 exceeded 500,000.

The castle first gained its recognition among Internet users who gave it the name “Castle in the Sky,” reminiscent of the view depicted in Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movie “Castle in the Sky.”

In early morning on sunny days during autumn and winter, dense morning fog, caused by temperature differences, makes the castle look as if it is floating on a sea of clouds.

It is believed to have been built during the Muromachi Period (1333-1573) and until it was conquered in the Edo Period (1603-1867) it served as a residence for successive lords.

Although only the castle’s stone walls remain, the dense fog enables visitors to enjoy the magical view.

The castle enjoyed wide media coverage in 2010 and was used as a location for the movie “Anata e” two years later.

It has also helped revive the popularity of Bicchu Matsuyama Castle, also known as Takahashi Castle, in Takahashi, Okayama Prefecture.

That castle, believed to have been built using fortifications from the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), has been listed as one of Japan’s three great mountain castles.

The site has for years been known for its view resembling that of Takeda Castle, but its popularity has grown in recent years, with the number of visitors increasing from about 43,000 in fiscal 2012 to some 50,000 the following year.

Triggered by Takeda Castle’s popularity, various communities started to promote their local sites, dubbing them “castle in the sky.”

After the city of Kumano, Mie Prefecture, launched a campaign in May to attract visitors to the ruins of Akagi Castle on a gentle hill, the site became popular after photographs of it were printed in a local newspaper.

The city of Ono, Fukui Prefecture, has launched a campaign on the sides of advertising trucks to promote its castle in the sky — Echizen Ono Castle, also known as Ono Castle.

The trucks, with large panels featuring photographs of the castle, are driven around on the streets of major cities including Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.

According to Nara University President Yoshihiro Senda, there are about 20,000 castles located on mountains dotted around the country.

“If local communities put more effort into renovating the surroundings of their castles, there must be many other places where people can enjoy similar views,” Senda said.