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Why You Should Visit Marugame Castle

Japan’s Shikoku got the short end of the stick in many ways. There are no Shinkansen bullet trains on the island; it also happens to be more prone to tsunami and earthquakes than the rest of the country.

On the other hand, in spite of being home to less than 3% of modern Japan’s population, Shikoku is where you’ll find four of the country’s remaining 12 “original” castles. Not bad, Shikoku, not bad at all!

So, is Marugame Castle worth visiting? Yes, and not just because its original tenshu is intact.

How to Get to Marugame Castle

Most travelers take a Marugame Castle day trip from Takamatsu, so that’s what I am going to outline today. The good news? Marugame is a straight shot from Takamatsu, located just about 30 minutes west on the JR Yosan Line. These trains are mostly non-reserved and come several times per hour, so you don’t need to time anything out too specifically.

If you’re coming from the mainland (say Osaka, where Japan’s first casino resorts will soon open), you’ll need to ride the Shinkansen to Okayama, then ride the JR Seto-Ohashi Line to Takamatsu. Thankfully, even if you take this journey prior to the opening of these resorts, you can try your luck at online casinos like Slotozilla before starting your castle adventure.

Things to Do at Marugame Castle

Admire the castle from ground-level


Arriving at Marugame Station, the castle is imposing, even as you approach it. Take some time as you walk to appreciate the splendor of the structure, and to imagine what Marugame must’ve looked like in the late 16th century, when it was built.

Explore its spacious grounds


One thing that makes Marugame Castle worth visiting is how much of it there is to explore. After you cross the bridge over the first moat, you enter the first of several tiers—and that’s before you even go up to the castle tower! Locals and tourists alike will be enjoying the ambiance.

Enjoy the view from the tenshu


A castle’s keep or tenshu is what determines whether or not it’s considered to be “original.” When you ascend Marugame’s, try and be mindful of the fact that it has remained intact for over 400 years. It’s a marvel of architecture and engineering, irrespective of the history.

Visit a unique local museum


I think that by now I’ve convinced you: Marugame Castle is worth visiting. Once you finish here, however, don’t immediately go back to the station. Rain or shine, the unique Genichiro Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art is definitely deserving of your time.

Eat amazing udon for lunch


Like the rest of Kawaga more broadly, Marugame is famous for its udon noodles. Whether served hot or cold, they make for a nutritious and refreshing meal. I personally love Mendokoro Wataya, just north of Marugame Station, but so do locals—be prepared to queue!

Other Things to Do in Kawaga

Like Shikoku more broadly, Kagawa prefecture is one of Japan’s most underrated destinations. Here are some other way to occupy your time here:

  • Spend time in Takamatsu City, in particular at the superlative Ritsurin Garden
  • Take a day hike up the stone steps of enchanting Kotohira-gu temple
  • Ride a ferry to Megijima, or other scenic islands in the Seto Inland Sea
  • Make your island day trip art-focused by choosing iconic Naoshima

As you can see, the journey from Takamatsu to Marugame Castle is just one of the many ways a trip to Kagawa-ken will steal your heart. 

Other FAQ About Visiting Marugame Castle

What is Marugame known for?

Among tourists, Marugame is primarily known for its 16th-century castle, which is among just 12 “original” castles remaining in Japan. Local Japanese know Marugame for its high number of excellent udon restaurants, and for the art of Genichiro Inokuma.

What are the 12 original castles in Japan?

In addition to Marugame Castle, here are the other original 11 castles in Japan, as well as their prefectures: Matsuyama (Ehime); Kochi (Kochi); Uwajima (Ehime); Himeji (Hyogo); Hikone (Shiga); Matsumoto (Nagano); Hirosaki (Aomori); Inuyama (Aichi); Matsue (Shimane); Bitchu Matsuyama (Okayama); Maruoka (Fukui).

Why is Marugame Udon so popular?

Udon from the Japanese city of Marugame is popular because of the quality of the wheat, and the fact that a traditional process is still used. As far as the restaurant “Marugame Udon”? Well, that’s anyone’s guess.

The Bottom Line

Is Marugame Castle worth visiting? Yes, and so is the underrated city of Marugame more broadly. Once you finish exploring the castle, you can spend some time in town, be that at the Genichiro Inokuma Museum of Contemporary Art, or simply by sitting down for one of the best bowls of udon you’re ever going to have in your life. Whether you come for the day from Takamatsu, or stay overnight, trust me when I say that you’re never going to forget Marugame. And even better way to make sure you never forget Marugame? Hire me to plan your trip to Japan!


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