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Castle Stay
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Dream holiday alert: you can now stay in this beautiful hilltop castle in Japan

Want to feel like a ‘special castle lord’? This luxurious ‘turret apartment’ promises just that

Ed Cunningham
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Ed Cunningham
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Consider yourself a Nipponophile? We think we’ve found your dream holiday destination. This is a historic Japanese castle you can actually stay in – and a few nights here will make you feel, so the website says, like ‘special castle lord’.

It’s in Hirado, a city in Nagasaki prefecture on the very southern tip of the Japanese mainland, and was first built in 1599 by a local warlord named Matsura Shigenobu. As is the way with many castles in the part of the world, it was subsequently burned down, rebuilt, then torn down again in the 1800s. The current building is a reconstruction built in the 1960s, and still has all your signature Japanese castle features. It’s tall white box-ish shape with lots of intricate detail, magnificent symmetry and roofs that curve downwards with a signature flick. Masterful!

So what kind of accommodation and service should you expect? Near-total luxury, actually. Guests stay in a two-floor apartment in the actual turret itself, which doesn’t just feature a bedroom and general living space, but also has a terrace and wine cellar. You’re not allowed in the kitchen – but that’s because all meals are prepared by your own personal chef. Safe to say, it’s very fancy indeed.

The interior is a masterclass in tasteful contemporary design: the perfect setting for Hirado Castle’s ‘experience packages’. Guests can get dressed up in kimonos, and are treated to traditional tea ceremonies, martial arts, meditation and hirado kagura – a dance style that’s a key part of local Hirado culture.

And if you manage to get bored of all that? The castle offers jaw-dropping views out over the nearby port, bay and Kurokoshima Island. The castle keep also houses a museum about the history of the area, while the nearby Kameoka park and shrine should also keep you busy.

Hirado Castle is reachable via car or train from Nagasaki, Fukuoka and Hakata. If you’d like to check availability or book a stay, see the website for more details. Bear in mind, however, that Japan is still not allowing in most international arrivals due to the pandemic. That probably means your samurai dreams will have to wait until things have cooled down, at least a bit.

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