Hikone Castle was the castle of Ii family of the Hikone domain, a 350,000 koku domain. The castle took about 20 years to build, and was completed in 1622. The sheer beauty of Hikone Castle under moonlight is said to be one of the Eight Views of Lake Biwa. The castle is also referred to as Konki-jo (Konki Castle). This name is thought to have derived from a temple on Mt. Hikone which enshrined a statue of the Deity of Mercy sitting atop a golden tortoise before the castle was built. The castle is known for being especially well preserved, having escaped the affects of war and the ordinance issued in the Meiji Period on the abolishment of castles. The castle has been designated as a special historic site by Japanese government, and can still be viewed in all its splendor today.
You can hear a bell ringing at a predetermined times of day near Hikone Castle. This is called the “time bell,” and is located within the taikomaru under the castle keep. This bell has been rung five times every day in three hour intervals from 6AM since the Edo Period, and is still in use today. Its beautiful timbre has even been selected as one of the 100 selections of soundscape in Japan. The chance to hear this tone preserved in time, while taking in views of the architecture of the period is a unique attraction that continues to draw people to Hikone Castle. Hikone Castle is also a great place to meet the official mascot of Hikone City, Hikonyan. Immediately upon crossing the Kyobashi Bridge spanning the moat to the castle, you will find Yume-Kyobashi Castle Road, which models itself on an old Edo Period castle town. A wide manner of shops line the 350 meter street, from souvenir stores, dining joints, and sweet stores, offering a great chance to shop around with a tasty treat in hand.