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The Samurai History and Castle Tours

The Samurai History and Castle Tours are designed for you to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese culture and people through experiencing authentic samurai castles and other historically significant sites showcasing feudal Japan. 

Do you think Japan’s samurai warriors were always fighting and going into battles?


Actually, there was a time that was peaceful with virtually no wars. That time lasted for 250 years – the longest-lasting peace in Japanese history -- and it's known as the Edo period. 


Thanks to the peaceful time under the stable government, Edo became the world’s largest city with more than one million residents. Japan achieved economic growth and accomplished infrastructure and cultural developments, many of which became the foundation of the society and culture we have today. 

Hikone Castle

Through the samurai history and castle tours, you'll learn

  • How was a 250-year peace achieved during the Edo period (1603 - 1868)

  • How Japanese samurai warriors strategically prepared for battles

  • The life of feudal lords and the Tokugawa Shogun – the political and military leader of the Edo government - during the peaceful era

  • What the social hierarchy system was like during the Edo period

  • The influence of the samurai period we still have in modern Japan

Photo Credit: Nagoya Honmaru Palace

Photo Credit: Nagoya Honmaru Palace


The Edo government ruled the entire Japan by controlling about a fourth of the total land -- areas with rich resources and in strategically important locations -- directly, while allocating the rest of the land areas to more than 200 feudal lords.


Under the system, the higher their rank was in the government, the closer their domain land was to Edo, Kyoto and Osaka where the seat of the government, the residence of the Emperor and Tokugawa’s enemy Toyotomi clan were situated respectively.

In the later history, Edo, now Tokyo, has changed dramatically through modernisation and through being destroyed and rebuilt. As a result, there are only a handful of sites in Tokyo still intact from the Edo period. Luckily, such sites do exist in other parts of Japan because of the feudal system of the shogunate and domains.


The central part of the main Honshu island is one such area and here are some of the historically significant sites that I can show you around. 


The Hikone Castle

The Highlights: 

  • The 400-year old castle's keep with spectacular views from the top​

  • The residence and the office that showcase the life of the feudal lords

  • Garden with tea houses where you can enjoy matcha tea with a Japanese sweet

  • Great collections of arts and crafts, armours and swords as well as Noh masks, costumes and the original theatre from the Edo period

Hikone castle is one of Japan's five national treasure castles that have kept their original shape from the early Edo period. 


Located in close proximity to Kyoto and Osaka, the wooden structure was strategically built to fight against the Toyotomi clan, as seen in a number of defensive features as well as the exterior of the castle.


The reality is that the castle was never used for battles. It was the office and the residence of the Ii clan -- one of the closest feudal lords to the Tokugawa family -- who ruled the Hikone domain through the entire Edo period.

The Nagoya Honmaru Palace

The Highlights: 

  • The Honmaru palace with highly sophisticated interior designs, artistic works and architectural styles that signify the social hierarchy system even within samurai class

  • The 55-metre high castle with a magnificent look -- one of the biggest among Japanese castles


Photo Credit: Nagoya Honmaru Palace

Nagoya castle was constructed by the order of the Tokugawa Shogun.


The Honmaru palace was built next to the castle and this was used as a lodging for the Tokugawa Shogun and as the residence and the office of the feudal lord Owari Tokugawa clan who ruled the domain land around Nagoya.​

Despite the loss of these original structures during the Second World War, they were reconstructed in a truly authentic manner based on well-preserved blueprints and pictures, which are rarely found in any other castles.

Why this is the tour for you!

Private and Custom Tour

My tours are custom-made for you. I'll arrange the tour details based on your needs and interests. 

Feel at ease and supported

We'll get to know each other even before your trip. I'll be your private guide and hopefully become your best local friend.

Connect with local people

I'll tell you everything you want to know about Japan and help you communicate with other locals.

Discover the unknown

Even major sites don't mean anything without the context. I’ll fill you in on the details so that you can appreciate the sites on a deeper level.

Got questions?

Q: Can we visit both the Hikone Castle and the Nagoya Honmaru Palace on a same day?

If you're travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto, both Hikone and Nagoya are the perfect places to stop off and explore for half a day. Nagoya is the hub city to charming small towns in the central region and the home of local dishes such as Miso Katsu deep-fried pork cutlet and Unagi Hitsumabushi grilled eel rice bowl. Hikone is a small city at the shores of Japan's largest lake Biwa, which is a great spot to try Japan's one of the top three brands of Wagyu beef. It's worth visiting these sites on different days and exploring the neighbourhood.

Meet your guide Miyuki

I’m a bilingual licensed guide who grew up and currently resides in the southwestern part of Gifu prefecture -- one of the areas that's associated with samurai history. 

I love learning about Japanese history and getting to know the lifestyle and personality of historical figures.


I would love to make my tours as interactive as possible, so ​I encourage you to join me on a tour with a curious mind and be ready to ask questions. 

No prior knowledge is required so all you need to do is to show up at the meeting point on time and enjoy your experience to the fullest! 

from Scotland
"I wanted to do a tour, and why not pick somebody that I knew would be both fun and knowledgeable!"

I really enjoyed getting away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds in the cities with my side trip to Hikone. It was nice and quiet compared to all the other locations and I was able to soak in the history and the beauty of the area. I am thankful for Miyuki's suggestion of Hikone as I was unaware of the location before, and it was one of the highlights of my trip.

Michael from Atlanta
Ed from Alaska
What my amazing guests are saying!