You probably know that a castle and a château should mean the same, the only difference being whether you speak in English or in French. Let me tell you that not necessarily, in Japan you can find both!
Japan has a number of castles, the closest one from Tokyo is in Odawara. Demolished and rebuilt at least half a dozen of times during its history, Odawara castle (or to be more precise, the castle tower) is not very big, but a nice and newly renovated one, where you can still smell fresh wood inside. Reopened after renovation only in May 2016, it makes it a nice day trip from Tokyo, either by Shinkansen or ordinary train – all your choice depending on budget and time at hand.
Differently from France, where castles are often about elegance, beautiful gardens and rooms, kings, queens, amazing dresses, artwork, vineyards, fountains and other beautiful things, In Japan castles are first and foremost related to warriors, i.e. shoguns – hereditary military dictators, who actually ruled the country during the period from XII to XIX century, and samurai. Depending on which castle you visit, you may find exhibitions of samurai clothes, swords, helmets and other related attributes.
What about château, you will ask? What does château have to do with Japan? To discover, you will have to visit Yamanashi prefecture, famous for vineyards and peach gardens. I am not sure whether it is love for France and everything French or the intentional effort to make it more appealing to customers (who generally love everything French), but a number of wine makers use the word Château for their wineries.
Remember Château Mercian, the most common Japanese wine brand? I thought it is only the name, but then I came across a real one. Château Katsunuma has both vineyards and gardens, which means that you can spend a lazy summer afternoon tasting their peach wine (among others) and looking around.
Don’t forget to get one for a summer picnic with friends!