Takeda Castle ruins is also dubbed as ‘Machu Picchu of Japan’ for its terraced sloping architecture or the ‘castle floating in the sky’ because it is located at the top of the mountain whereby under a clear autumn sky, the castle will appear to be floating over a sea of clouds known as the ’unkai’. I’d wanted very desperately to visit the castle ruins since I first heard of it, and was overwhelmed with excitement when I found out that the ruins were only an hour’s drive from where I stayed in Himeji.
Our guide for the day, my sister’s friend and AirBnb host (a very fun and friendly character), Yoichi, who have brought his guests to Takeda castle ruins a couple of times, advised us to start out early for the trip as the unkai would only last for a few hours after sunrise. I ended up waking at 3 am in the morning so that we could hit the road at 4am. But whenever I travelled, there would be this burst of adrenaline pumping in my veins that made me forget that the word exhaustion exists.
However, it was not to be my lucky day, as rainclouds loomed over our heads throughout our drive to the ruins. Halfway up the mountain, we were even told that we had to detour to take a bus as it was the weekend and cars are not allowed to park at the parking lot where Yoichi usually parked. A return bus trip costs a whopping 1000 JPY per person, which was as good as daylight robbery, as this excludes the 500 JPY admission charge to the castle ruins. At least though, we managed to catch the bus on time and it took us to a bus terminal midway up the mountain. From the terminal, we had to climb for about half an hour before we could reach the ruins.
The climb was arduous, given my lack of physical ability. I was out of breath barely 15 minutes into the climb, and had to use my umbrella as a walking stick numerous times despite the fine rain wetting my hair. But all the strenuous exercise was forgotten the moment I caught sight of the half crumbling stone walls that marked a long forgotten medieval past.
Although the rain has effectively removed any possible appearance of clouds surrounding the castle ruins, the ruins were still impressive without the unkai. And the red trees that stood proudly amongst the ruins were also a beautiful sight to behold. But I would definitely want to return again, on a fine day in autumn, to be in a castle floating in the sky.
For anyone who is looking for AirBnb in Himeji to stay in, Yoichi has two houses, Chiyoda House and 75House. The links are below: