Innoshima Suigun Castle

The Innoshima Suigun Castle was a bit of a letdown for me.  Having visited several dozen castles all around Japan, it is difficult to get excited about castles these days; so I tried to keep my expectations low, but it wasn’t low enough.  Since I was travelling along the Shimanami Kaido, castle visits were not the main priority.  Enjoying the trip was most important, so I wasn’t in the mindset to appreciate the castle as much as I should.  I was also put down a little by the fact that I read it wasn’t really a “castle” but I did hear conflicting reports about it.

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Getting to the castle is very difficult if you don’t have a car.  Even by bicycle it wasn’t the easiest place to reach.  I was able to get there but the hill from the main road to the castle entrance was not easy to climb.  I ended up walking my bike up to the castle, and with my bag I had to look for a safe place to park my bike.  I ended up hiding it behind a map and hoping no one would notice it.

Entrance to Innoshima Suigun Castle

Entrance to Innoshima Suigun Castle

Once everything was stored, I headed up to the main castle keep.  The path to the castle is pretty simple and straight forward.  Being on top of a hill, I’m sure it was relatively simple to protect it, and there were other fortifications around the island to help protect the inner castle.  I assume that for these reason there was only a simple staircase to get to the top, rather than a small labyrinth of passages going through walls and such.

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Rest Area Going Up to Innoshima Suigun Castle

Rest Area Going Up to Innoshima Suigun Castle

At the Top of Innoshima Suigun Castle

At the Top of Innoshima Suigun Castle

On the way to the top, you do see a few anchors as it is a naval castle.  It was run by the Murakami family which ruled the waterways in their day.  You can see the Murakami family crest, a simple kanji for “up” all over the place.  Once you get to the top, you have a choice of a few buildings to look at.  Since it was hot and I was tired, I didn’t really care too much for the buildings.

Anchors at Innoshima Suigun Castle

Anchors at Innoshima Suigun Castle

The buildings looked to be reconstructions but the main castle keep is free to enter.  I didn’t go to the top because I couldn’t read the Japanese and didn’t want to break any rules, but I believe you can go to the top of the castle.  All of this is free.  On the main floor of the castle, there is a small museum showcasing the local festival where they re-enact different scenes and wear period costumes from the Murakami times.

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Innoshima Suigun Castle Main Keep

Innoshima Suigun Castle Main Keep

The other building of interest is a museum of sorts.  It appears to have a few models of the ships from the time the Murakami family ruled the area but for a foreigner who can’t read a lot of Japanese, I wasn’t very interested in it.  I did find out later that they do have some English information, but I’m not too disappointed that I didn’t go inside.

Outside the Museum

Outside the Museum

There was only one area that I didn’t venture to.  It was across the valley and required me to go down a short hill and up a longer one.  From what I could see, you get a better vantage point of the castle and you also get to see more of the valley below, but I was too lazy and too tired to really go there.  I also wanted to see other things, which I ended up not really seeing anyways, but it ended up being better as I had more time to just relax and enjoy the main purpose of the trip, cycling.

Path Across the Valley

Path Across the Valley

The overall verdict is that the Innoshima Suigun Castle is not a bad place, but not a great place either.  If I was on a tour or if I was driving, I would have enjoyed it a lot more.  Since I was cycling, I really wasn’t in the mindset to enjoy it.  I kind of regret not being able to really see everything, but at the same time I wouldn’t change what I did.  From the information I had, I really couldn’t have known much more.  If you have a chance, do consider going and let me know if I did miss out on anything.

Innoshima Suigun Castle

Innoshima Suigun Castle

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