Kishiwada is situated to the south of Osaka and is a city dating back centuries. It's also home to the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival, one of Japan's most famous and exciting festivals. But the city has another attraction which is well worth a visit.
Eagle-eyed visitors riding the train from Kansai International Airport up to Osaka or Kyoto may notice the striking black-and-white form of Kishiwada Castle looming over the city. The castle is only a short walk from Kishiwada Station on the Nankai Line and its close distance to the airport makes it an interesting and convenient stop off at the beginning or end of a trip.
The original castle was built in 1334 and in 1585, during the Warring States period, Koide Hidesama became lord of the castle. At this time the castle keep was constructed and rose to five-floors high. The keep was destroyed by fire caused by a lightning strike in 1827 and then-like many other castles around the country-the structure further deteriorated during the Meiji Restoration. Today only the stone walls and moat from the original remain. The current 3-story keep was built in 1954, but the elegant reconstruction has once again become the city's main landmark.
Inside the castle grounds, there's plenty to see and do-with the help of multilingual audio guides. A turret in the west corner of the grounds houses historical displays and offers the chance to dress up like a samurai, all for free. These costumes and props were provided by Kishiwada City Office. In addition, the area has been renewed so that more visitors can enjoy it, including the installation of information signs in multiple languages.
There is also access to the unique Kishiwada Castle Garden (Hachijin-no-Niwa), a modern-style garden created in 1953 that incorporates medieval symbolism and was designed to be viewed from any angle—including from the top of the castle keep.
Entry to the keep itself costs 300 yen for adults (children are free). Inside there are fascinating displays showcasing original suits of armor and historical artifacts, plus new exhibitions several times a year. It is worth climbing all the way to the outdoor viewing platform on the third level. From there, visitors are gifted with expansive views of Kishiwada, the distant skyscrapers of Osaka, all the way out to Osaka Bay-plus a birds-eye-view of the aforementioned castle garden.
If you want a bite to eat, there are a number of options in the close vicinity of the castle. Between the castle and the station is Kishiwada shotengai (covered shopping street) where you can find all kinds of shops, cafes, and restaurants. The tourist information center just outside the station also has a range of sweets and souvenirs unique to the city, including murasame, a kind of cake made with red bean paste.
Alternatively for a truly unforgettable dining experience head to Gofuso directly across from the castle grounds. This traditional Japanese residence now functions as a restaurant serving exquisite kaiseki (multi-dish) courses using local and seasonal ingredients. Guests can admire the beautiful and extensive gardens which house tearooms and ponds full of colorful koi carp.
The famous Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is a lively festival in mid-September. Huge Danjiri floats are pulled at high-speed through the streets attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city every year. But if you aren't able to come at that time, the next best thing is to visit Kishiwada Danjiri Kaikan, just a short walk from the castle. Here, you can learn all about the Danjiri, see the Danjiri floats up close, watch videos, and get a real feel for the festival.
Don’t miss the chance to stop off in Kishiwada next time you travel between Osaka and the airport—there is so much to see and do you’ll be glad you visited!