Himeji Castle (姫路城) is situated in the centre of Himeji City. And it’s one of the most well-known castles in Japan. Also known as the White Heron Castle due to its white exterior, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered to be Japan’s most beautiful and authentic castle in existence. I knew I have to make the trip to this white plastered castle after knowing about Himeji Castle Renovation works which are commencing and not due for completion until 2015 (our time of visit was in 2010).
The train ride from Osaka to Himeji took no more than one hour and the walk to the castle is straightforward.
Japan Himeji Castle – A National Treasure
The well preserved white castle is indeed an architectural beauty, looking impressively brilliant even from a distance. Those glorious white exterior walls have another role to play other than making it look aesthetically pleasing. And that’s for fireproofing because Himeji Castle is constructed of wood.
Defending the Castle
The Himeji Castle map below illustrates the grand plan of this great castle and I also realized much thought had gone into its defence system. Besides having the high ground advantage, the hilltop castle is certain to make life difficult for intruders with its confusing maze of paths. Imagine the intruders trying to find their way around while being showered upon with arrows – tough luck.
Archers will shoot from triangular, circular and square holes located throughout the castle without exposing themselves. There are numerous warehouses which stored essential food items and wells that provide drinking water if the castle is under siege.
These are the crests of the past feudal lords which rule Himeji Castle.
Inside the Castle
The castle is exceptionally well preserved. There are displays of weapons used, its history, the defence system a small temple on the top floor. I think it will take one hell of an intruder to breach the series of walls and moats before even reaching the Main Tower Keep or Tenshukaku (天守閣).
Some clear frontal shot of the Tenshukaku, and we also encountered some ninjas!! lol If you like the white castle, this Nanoblock Himeji Castle might interests you.
68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture 670-0012, Japan
Getting here: Take central exit at Himeji station and follow the direction signs.