Japan's ‘castle in the sky’ launches entrance fee

Japan's ‘castle in the sky’ launches entrance fee
A view of Takeda Castle in Asago, Hyogo Prefecture, on Tuesday morning

On Tuesday, visitors to the ruins of Takeda Castle in the Wadayamacho district of Asago, Hyogo Prefecture, began paying money to experience the site often called a "castle in the sky" because of how its rock walls sometimes seem to rise out of the clouds.

Effects of a recent surge in visitors to the 16th-century site include damage to buried tiles that were exposed by foot traffic. This and other damage prompted the city to introduce an entrance fee.

To protect the precious cultural resource, the city is planning to make severely damaged areas off-limits, ban high heels and create other rules for visitors.

A ¥300 (S$4)  fee charged to all visitors high school age or older began at 3 a.m. Tuesday. On that day, about 80 people arrived at the site by 6 a.m. to view the sunrise.

"The scale of the site is incredible. I've come several times," said Hiroshi Iwamoto, 51, from Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture. "If a fee must be charged to protect these historic ruins, I'm for it."

Moe Sasaki, a 23-year-old company employee from Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, said she thought the price was fair. "I hope they use the money to maintain the beauty of the site," she said.

Takeda Castle is said to have been first constructed on the 353-meter peak of Mt. Kojo in 1443, during the Muromachi period, by daimyo feudal lord Yamana Sozen.

Its stone walls, which still stand today, were built at the end of the 16th century, covering an area of 40 by 100 meters.

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