Hikone castle in Shiga was built in 1604 to replace the Sawayama Castle after Tokugawa Ieyasu won the Sekigahara battle in 1600 and came into power. The castle had served as home of the feudal lords for a long time untill the collapse of feudal age in 1868. At that time, as the common fate of castle around the country, Hikone castle faced the risk of being demolished because Emperor Meiji considered them as symbols of the old age. However, his decision changed at the time he visited Hikone area thanks to advice from some of his entourage. Visitors are advised to not miss the Hikone Castle Museum lying on the foot of Hikone castle hill with various exhibitions of treasures belonging to the Lords’ family.
Originally, the former site of Hikone Castle museum was the the castle’s front hall Omote Goten used as Hikone Clan’s office in the Edo period, as well as an official residence of the domain lord. The museum was officially opened on February 11th 1987 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Hikone. Together with the gorgeous museum building of white walls and lacquered brown wooden roofs, several tea rooms and a garden, the Noh stage and Okumuki where the lords used to spend their daily life have been well preserved to be present at the structure of the museum.
Hikone Castle museum shows the prosperity of Hikone clan governing the Hikone fief for some hundreds years with an impressive and grandiose collection of art objects and craft works, as well as historical documents, reaching the number of more than 45000 items from arms and armor to calligraphies and paintings, Noh masks and costumes, Gagaku musical instruments, tea ceremony utensils, and pieces of furniture. House of Hikone clan samurai warrior was once called a house of bow and horse. That's why you can see a huge collection of magnificent arms and armor inside the museum. Suits of armor, swords, trappings, bows and other arms were created to be not only warriors’ equipment but also artworks with the utmost skill and craftsmanship. The words The Ii family’s red guards with red-lacquered suits of armor were really well known at that time.
At Hikone Castle museum, you can also find some pieces of Noh masks and costumes- a kind of formal entertainment of the military class reflecting the Japanese aesthetic sense through their unique designs. There are a space for a great number of tea ceremony utensils and musical instruments used for the court music Gagaku which are believed as one of the best in Japan, both in quality and in quantity. The museum also holds several other exhibitions of Elegant Pastimes, Furnishings, Paintings and Calligraphies, History and Culture of Hikone and Ii Naosuke. Come to visit Hikone Castle museum on some fine spring or autumn day to enjoy interesting Noh plays taking place on Noh stage of the museum.
From 8:30 am to 5:00 pm. Last enter by 4:30 pm.
Closed day: from December 25th to 31st.
-Adult: 500 yen
-Elementary and Junior high student: 250 yen.
Ticket set (Castle-Museum-Garden):
-Adult: 1000 yen
-Elementary and Junior high student: 350 yen.