Date: 15 October 2016
Hamamatsu Castle (浜松城)
It was an early morning start – I took the shinkansen from Kyoto to reach Hamamatsu station in just an hour and a half. A few buses runs from Hamamatsu Station to Hamamatsu Castle, alight at Shiyakusho Minami (5 mins ride, 120 yen), then Hamamatsu Castle is just a 5 mins walk away.
I arrived a little earlier than the opening time of 8.30 a.m.
The castle was originally built by the Imagawa clan in 1532, but was later taken over by Tokugawa Ieyasu (founder of Tokugawa shogunate) in 1568. Following this, Ieyasu (then 29 years old) moved his headquarters from Okazaki-jo (in Aichi Prefecture) to Hamamatsu-jo in 1570, which he spent 17 years in before moving to Sunpu Castle.
The castle is also known as the Castle of Success due to the promotions of those who governed the castle during the Edo period.
The castle was destroyed during the Meiji’s restoration, and a 3-story main keep was reconstructed in 1958 on the original stone palisade, known as nozura-zumi due to the way the stones are placed together.
The entrance fee into the tenshu is 200 yen, and includes a small museum housing armor, weapons and artifacts of the Tokugawa clan. The 3rd floor offers view of the Pacific Ocean, Hamamatsu City and even Mt. Fuji on a clear day, though a metal grid obstructs the great view.
A bronze statue of Tokugawa Ieyasu can also be seen near the main keep.
If you are a castle lover, do visit this castle, after all it is an important castle due to its relation with Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Hamamatsu Castle Park is beautiful in spring due to its 370 sakura trees, so a visit in spring may be more worthwhile. Despite being a Saturday, there were only less than 5 visitors at the time of my visit.
Next was Kanzan-ji, a Zen-Buddhist temple located on Mt. Tateyama on the northern side of Hamanako (Lake Hamana).
The temple was founded by Kobo Daishi (founder of Shingon sect. of Buddhism) when he visited Mt. Tateyama for training.
The temple offers view of Hamanako.
Behind the temple there are various hiking trails which leads to several observation decks and “power spots”. I was cautious hiking these trails and only took the short ones as it looked as if a snake could appear at any time. It was also relatively quiet.
One of the shorter trails leads to a 16-meter tall statue of Bodhisattva Kannon, which was placed in 1935. A couple committed suicide in Tateyama and this statue is meant to protect people from future tragedies.
I did not hike the small Mt. Tateyama out of fear (shame on myself), so this definitely needs a revisit. While walking back to the bus stop, I made a few stops near the lake, enjoying the scenery.
From Hamamatsu Station, it takes 45 minutes on bus to reach Kanzanji Onsen bus stop, in which the temple is a 10 mins walk away.
Access to Hamamatsu
- From Tokyo. From Tokyo station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen. 1 hour 30 mins @ 8,290 yen.
- From Osaka. From Shin-osaka station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen. 1 hr 23 mins @ 8,940 yen.
- From Kyoto. From Kyoto station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen. 1 hr 8 mins @ 8,290 yen.
- From Nagoya. From Nagoya station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen. 31 mins @ 4,940 yen.
Yes, Hamamatsu station is easily accessed as it is one of the stops on the Tokaido Shinkansen line (for Kodama and Hikari trains). The Nozomi trains do not stop at Hamamatsu Station. The times indicated above are for Hikari trains.
There are other interesting sites in Hamamatsu worth visiting like the Gosha shrine, Kanzanji Onsen, Makayaji Temple, and Arai-juku. Depending on your interest, Hamamatsu can easily be a half-day trip or a one-day trip en-route between Tokyo and Kyoto.