Hirado City in Nagasaki Prefecture is looking for someone to open a small hotel within Hirado Castle’s turret. According to the Japan Castle Foundation, this would be the first accommodation to be created in a castle in Japan.
Hirado Castle’s origins date back to 1599 when local warlord Matsura Shigenobu built a castle on the hilltop. He burned the castle down 14 years later after finding himself on the losing side in the Battle of Sekigahara. In 1718, 4th daimyo Matsura Takashi rebuilt a castle that was to be used primarily for coastal defense. The castle remained under the control of the Matsura daimyo until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. A few years later the castle structures were dismantled, leaving just a turret, moat and gate. A replica castle keep was built of reinforced concrete in 1962.
The two-story turret is a replica built in 1977 of reinforced concrete. It has a total floor area of 127 sqm (1,367 sq.ft). It was once used as an exhibition space but is currently just used for storage. The city began accepting applications from prospective operators via their website in April, and plan to announce the selected candidate later this month. The city will carry out interior works to meet the hotel operator’s concept, with the goal of having it open to guests from next summer. Approximately 140 million Yen has been set aside in the city’s budget for the project. The operator will pay approximately 3.5 million Yen in annual rent to the city.
In 2017, the city ran a PR campaign offering a free night’s stay in the castle keep to one lucky pair. Over 7,400 applications were received, of which over half were from overseas tourists.
At its peak, the castle was attracting as many as 200,000 annual visitors. In recent years, however, this number has dropped to around 70,000 visitors, putting a strain on city finances.
The Asahi Shimbun, June 6, 2019.
The Mainichi Shimbun, May 31, 2019.