In the past few years, there has been a boom of historical tourism in Japan. "Rekijo（歴女）", is a popular term for female history buffs who often visit castles and historical sites across Japan. Recently, the number of Rekijos visiting such sites for enjoyment has increased. It can be said that they are a new kind of otaku, often attracted by good-looking historical figures depicted in video games and manga based on the feudal period of Japan.
Yamakawa Mook: Japanese Castles (山川MOOK日本の城) is the perfect app for those who don't know much about Japanese history yet, but are interested in Japanese castles and eager to learn more about them.
This app is based on the book Japanese Castle from Yamakawa Publishers, who are well known for their educational history textbooks. Given that, you can see why all the information in this app is reliable and easy to understand.
This app includes 127 Japanese castles! Not only does it cover the 12 existing major castles and cultural heritage, but it also covers minor castles like the Yoshida Castle in Aichi, or the Sonobe Castle in Kyoto. The app includes a "book" function that allows you to read the information as if flipping through pages. Under "Menu," you can also search castles by area, name, year of establishment, and owner.
There is also a check-in function that allows you to save the date and time of your visit, and share via SNS.
However, the most convenient function was the ability to sync with Google Maps. Castles are sometimes located in places like the top of a mountain, city center, or lake shore; thus, making it difficult to locate them sometimes. So it is convenient to be able to know how to get there, and how long it takes to get there.
The visual presentation of this app is great, taking full advantage of the smartphone and tablet form factor. Even must-see highlights like the interior of the castles are featured. For example, the corridors of Matsumoto Castle narrows due to its irregular groundwork, and the app's photos really work to show its shape. You can also enjoy old pictures and maps from previous eras, and see bird's-eye photos to better understand the castles visually.
The functions mentioned above are more than enough, but the trivia on each castle seems a bit lacking. It has a potential to be a better read if more information was offered on the castles, which will sure be an attraction for history buffs and fanatics.
Device used: Motorola PHOTON (ISW11M)
Publisher: Imagineer Co., Ltd.
Last Updated: 2011.10.26
Price: 800 yen
Compatibility: Android 2.1 or higher
Translated by Ruriko Sumi