|Lone bench at the Takeda Castle Ruins|
We followed the Google Maps route and it led us to a parking lot where traffic controllers told us that the lot was closed until 8am and directed us to another parking lot. At the next parking lot there was a sign with a map and we followed it to walk to the base of the mountain where Hyomaijinja is (表米神社). We chose the sign that said 30-40 minute Mountain Trail (actually it had a typo and was spelled Mauntain Trail) that was visible on the left after you ascend the flight of stone stairs up to the shrine. If you do not want to hike, you can take a Zentan bus up for 500 yen. Check the schedule here.
The hike was steeper than I thought and although it was a cool morning, we were all sweating by the time we reached the top after many flights of stairs on the trail. Admission to the castle ruins cost 500 yen. We reached the top around 7:30am and the view was definitely worth the steep hike. The dense fog hung over the castle ruins allowing parts of the lush green rice fields at the bottom to peep through. 7:30am in the morning may seem early but if you were going to make your way out there, you should try your best to come before the fog goes away.
The castle in the sky photos used to promote the Takeda Castle Ruins were probably taken from a helicopter or on a mountain on the opposite side because this trail leads you to the castle ruins itself so you cannot see it in its entirety enveloped by clouds. However, it was still very pretty and serene. Despite the word "ruins" in the name, the place was tidy and well kept with rope to prevent tourists from stepping out of bounds into dangerous zones. There were no visible remnants of the castle left except some stone bases. The hike down the mountain was much, much easier and quite enjoyable.
|Kinosaki Onsen area|