10 Jun Day 5: Driving to Inuyama Castle
We weighed up the options of how to get to Kyoto Station with all our luggage. It was a weekday morning. The subway was out of the question with 2 suitcases and getting a taxi that would be waiting in traffic seemed silly for a journey 1.5 km straight up the road. We ended up walking again and I’m pretty sure I whined like a child for most of the way. We didn’t reserve seats for any of our train trips as we didn’t want to spend the extra money. The non-reserved cars on the Kyoto to Nagoya train were fairly full when we got on, but we found 2 seats and jammed our luggage in front of our legs and sat down. Fletcher made friends with a little boy sitting in front of us and they were shaking hands throughout our short trip.
Picking up the rental car
Just over half an hour on the train and we arrived at Nagoya station. We exited the station and headed to the nearby Nissan rent-a-car. I had checked the walking route using Google street view so we wouldn’t get lost trying to find it. Tim entered the small building and handed over all the paperwork. Fletcher and I waited outside and watched the men pull our car up. When all the paper work was finished, we were led to the little black car, a Nissan March, which is the same as the Micra in Australia. After checking the car over and being shown everything, we entered the phone number for Inuyama Castle into the GPS and we were off!
We circled around a few times as we couldn’t find the entrance to the expressway, luckily the city wasn’t too busy at the time. It took Tim a bit to get used to the car’s idling stop system. The engine would turn off when stopping in traffic or at lights and there was a short delay for it to start up again. We finally entered the expressway only to get off it a short time later as Tim had miss-read the GPS and ended up taking an exit. Read our guide to renting a car and driving in Japan.
We made it to Inuyama Castle about an hour later than planned. Parking the car at the bottom, we walked up the steep hill to the Castle grounds. We then found there was parking at the top. It was probably easier to park at the bottom anyway, the path followed a waterway and it was nice to walk after being in the car. We arrived to find the castle was under going some maintenance, but other than appearances it didn’t affect our visit.
Inuyama Castle is one of Japan’s original castles remaining today, as most were destroyed during wars or in natural disasters. It was constructed in 1537 and is a national treasure, a title that is held by only four other castles in the country. We approached the front of the castle and were given a bag to place our shoes in while we walked around the interior. Inside, the castle was kept simple in order to give it an authentic look. There were some display cases showing armour and a wooden model of the main keep.
The stairs leading up to the top floor were very steep. We stepped out of the opening and onto the narrow balcony, which was a little scary. The view from the balcony was beautiful, the hilltop castle overlooks the town and the Kiso river. You are able to walk around the entire balcony getting a 360 degree view. It was a bit tricky getting down the almost vertical steps back to the basement level.
In the above photo you can just see some cars parked on the road along the river. Our little rental is parked down there.
Once outside again we put our shoes back on and let Fletch have a walk around. We got some little drinks from the vending machine and spent some time taking in the castle’s striking exterior. There was a loud noise and we looked up to find fighter jets flying above us.
Leaving the castle grounds, we walked downhill back to the car. We entered the Takayama ryokan’s phone number into the GPS and were back on the road. We ate lunch in the car. I’d bought some things from a bakery earlier in the day. Fletcher slept for most of the way after eating. When getting onto the expressway past the start you take a ticket from a machine, which you present once you reach the toll gate. The toll gates state whether they are ETC, cash or both, so it’s easy to make sure you enter the right one.