Author's note: To fully appreciate this post, I highly recommend starting with the first installment of the five-part series, which can be found here.
A Google search I did this spring indicated that there were four original Japanese castles on the National Treasure registry, but the internet LIED. All of the blogs and travel sites that I accessed had been written prior to July 2015. I know this because Matsue Castle was added to the registry in July 2015 and none of the sites I accessed had mentioned it.
After I got over my initial disappointment... because I did not discover there was a fifth castle until I was in the car and on my way to see the fourth (and what I thought was the final) castle, it was time to plan a day trip to the Matsue area, which is about a three-hour road trip from Iwakuni. So, we rented a van, added some adventurous women to the vehicle and headed off to check it out.
Castle 5, Matsue, check!
Also interesting to note: Before you actually reach the castle, you walk past this very Western-looking building, Kounkaku, which was built simply to house the emperor during his visit to the area in 1907. It was recently restored.
So, I have officially reached my goal to see all FIVE of Japan's original castles that are national treasures. Inuyama, Hikone, Himeji, Matsumoto and Matsue. Check, check, check, check and check...
And I am officially finished with Japanese castles. Case closed.