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Himeji Castle

What is Himeji Castle?

In Japan, there are fourteen UNESCO world cultural heritage sites. Do you know which site was listed first?

About 1 hour distance with a bullet train from Osaka, there stands Himeji castle in Hyogo prefecture. The castle was listed as the first UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 1993. It is also one of the “three great castles in Japan” and considered one of the best examples of Japanese citadel architecture.

NOTICE: Himeji castle is now under renovation and will be finished in March 2015. It is recommended that you visit following the completion of the renovations.

himeji-castle-Japanesquest

What to See?

1. White Egret Castle.

In 1609, in the period of Edo shogunate, Himeji castle was built as a residence of the local lord Ikeda Terumasa.

In the center of the castle, you can see the tallest building called Tensyu. It has five stories, and the lord was able to see his entire land from the top.

tensyu

Since the castle’s elegant walls remind people of a white egret, Himeji castle is also called Hakuro-Jo (White egret castle).

Japanesquest | Himeji castle Hakuro-Jo (White egret castle)

2. Two Different Roof Designs.

When you see the roofs of each story of Tensyu, you may notice that there are two different designs. The ones that look like steep mountains are called Chidori-Hafu, and the ones that look like upside-down bowls are Kara-Hafu. The mixture of these two Hafu brings out the beauty of the white walls.

Japanesquest | Himeji castle Hafu

3. Military Construction

Himeji castle has many defense mechanisms.

While Tensyu appears to have only five stories, there are actually seven floors inside. It is meant to deceive and confuse invaders.

Japanesquest | Hemeji castle apprearance Japanesquest | Inside Himeji castle

You will also notice the stone walls that support Tensyu are built in the shape of sectors. This design was used to prevent invaders from climbing up.

Japanesquest | Himeji castle sector-shaped stonewall

4. Various Shapes of Holes in the Walls

The walls of Himeji castle are spread out like a maze.

Japanesquest| Himeji castle maze of walls

You can find many holes in the walls. Even though they were used for soldiers to stick out guns and arrows during combat, the holes were different shapes so they would not jeopardize the beauty of the castle.

Japanesquest | Himeji castle holes on walls

Summary

The residences of lords required many military modifications. Himeji castle not only matched the military requirements, but also exceed them by adding numerous beautiful elements. From wherever you view Himeji castle, its beauty never diminishes. Himeji castle is, without a doubt, one of the best examples of Japanese citadel architecture, just as it has been for last 400 years.

Did You Know?

did you know? - Japanesquest

Himeji castle was once exposed to the dangers of extinction. It was in the middle of World War II.

The citizens who heard the air-raid alarm of the neighboring city tried to cover the Himeji castle with black cloths in an attempt to protect it. However, one bomb went through the window of the Tensyu. It was an intense moment. Fortunately, the bomb did not explode, as if the people’s entreaty saved it.

After the war, the figure of Himeji castle standing in the wasteland motivated citizens to rebuild their city. The castle has been a symbol of peace ever since.

himeji-castle-Japanesquest

Hours Open:
Everyday:
9:00-17:00 from Sep through mid Apr. 9:00-18:00 from late Apr through Aug.
Admission:
600 yen (400 yen during the renovation until March 2015)