Nagasaki Prefecture’s Hirado Castle opened Japan's first "shirohaku", castle stay. It's located in the historic hilltop castle from the 18th century with panoramic views across the Hirado Strait. On this site in 1599, Matsura Shigenobu, a local warlord, constructed a castle called Hinotake-jō, which he then burned down in 1613. It was reconstructed by the 5th daimyo of Hirado domain, Matsura Takashi until it was abandoned under the Ordinance. In 1962, the entire castle complex underwent a thorough reconstruction and renovation, including the construction of the main keep that serves as a museum with artifacts of the Matsura clan. After recent and modern renovations, it reopened in April 2021.
Today, you can stay at the castle's Kaiju Yagura tower, which was transformed into a hotel. The sleek and minimalist suite can sleep up to five people. The interior is stuffed with Japanese art and design, including the butterfly mural on the dining room wall, which is the work of Kyushu local artist Takahide Komatsu. The two-story Kaiju Yagura tower suite contains a living-dining room adjacent to the entrance and a bedroom on the second floor. The spectacular bathroom is surrounded by three glass walls, through which you can enjoy the fantastic view overlooking the ocean and the Hirado Bridge.
If you'd like to sample local traditions, you can dress up in traditional Japanese clothes, take part in a 17th-century warrior tea ceremony, or watch an exceptional performance of the "Hirado Kagura" dance. The hotel also offers fine dining. They prepare full-course meals to savor the distinctive tastes of Hirado Island using fresh seafood and local-grown seasonal ingredients. And that's not all. Staying at a castle is a rare experience, but part of the experience is the after-hours visit to the on-site museum, exclusive to the guests.
The castle hotel operator hopes to create a new tourism trend using the symbol of Hirado, and we see why this is a great idea.