Himeji Castle has 400 years of history. It is evaluated highly from the world as a castle that is still the original building among Japanese castles. In 1993, it was registered as the world heritage site along with Horyuji for the first time in Japan. The graceful white building is compared to a white heron and it is also called “white heron castle” and creating very beautiful scenery.
Currently, it is under once in 50 years preservation repair construction so no one is allowed in the large keep. (Other areas are available for observation). It will open on March 27th, 2015. The castle wall painted with white wall plaster and beauty of the castle tower is magnificent. You are for sure to be impressed by its appearance. Also in spring, about 1000 cherry blossom trees in the castle are in full bloom so many people come for the view.
On the weekend, Himeji castle armored group, gate keepers, ninjas, and the character for Himeji city “Shiromaruhime” come to the castle to welcome the guests.
|Address||68 Honmachi, Himeji, 670-0012|
|Open||September 1st to April 26th/ 9:00 to 16:00 (Gate closes at 17:00)
April 27th to August 31st /9:00 to 17:00 (Gate closes at 18:00)
|fee||Until March 26th 2015
￥400 for adults, ￥100 for 5 years old to junior high school student (10% discount for a group over 30 people, 20% discount for a group over 100 people, 30% discount for a group over 300 people), common ticket for Himeji Castle and Kokoen available
After March 27th 2015
￥1000 for adults (over 18 years old), ￥300 for elementary school to high school students, free for children before elementary school
(20% discount for a group over 30 people)
|Holiday||December 29th and 30th|
|Access||From Kyoto：1h by Bullet Train
From Shin-Osaka：45min by Bullet Train
About 15 minutes' walk from JR orSanyo Railway Himeji station
or 5 minutes' bus ride
From San no maru though to Ni no Maru, it is the largest gate in the castle and has Hish no Mon(lozenge shaped crests) carved in the wood of the cross bar.
This gate is unique with elegant Katou-mado(top arched windows), and frequently appears in historical Japanese TV dramas.
Notice also the series of crenellated walls to counter enemy attacks, the "Sama" on both sides.
Just inside the Hish no Mon is a 31m square moat.
Although it was originally a dry moat, it has become filled with rainwater.
An exquisite view of the Donjon can be seen from the side of this moat, and is an excellent spot for taking photographs.
On a clear day the castle is reflected in the mort.
The building that surrounds the Chu-Shoin of Nishi no Maru has a periphery of 300m.
Sen-hime or Princess Sen's maids lived in the Tsubone(rooms) lining the long hallway.
Princess Sen's resting room. She used this room for dressing up and redoing her makeup before praying to Mt. Otoko from the Naga Tsubone. It was laid with Tatami
(straw matting) for comfort and was rather palatial.
Apart from the residential building, this was the only ornate and comfortable building.
The three smaller donjon in the "East", "West", and "Inui(North-West)" sides of the Daitenshu(main donjon) are connected by corridors.
Only Himeji Castle has existing coalition castle donjon throughout Japan.
While having defenses such as Ishi-otoshi(stone throwing) and Musha-Koushi-Mado(grilled defense window), its elegance compares favorably with the Daitenshu.
The main donjon of height 31.5ｍ is built on a tensyu-dai(stone wall) of 14.85ｍ in height. It is located at the top of Mt. Hime which is 45.6m high, so is actually 92m above sea-level.
Although externally it appears to be only 5 stories high, it is actually 7 levels from the basement to the top floor.
The dignified main donjon is supported by 2 large pillars in the east and west.
They continue from the basement to just under the sixth floor.
As the large western pillar was found to berotten inside, it was replaced during the "thorough Showa Era repairs"(1956-1963)
On the 3rd floor of Tenshu-kaku(donjon) there are rooms in the four corners.
These were made to hide warriors in ready to corner-attack enemies.
As it has a high platform that resemble s where a corner sits at a Samurai suicide and a well in the garden, it started being called "hara-kiri maru" (suicide place for Samurai) at some time in its long history.
A small gate called an Ana Mon (Tunnel or Hole Gate) was made between the stone walls.
It is also called a Buried Gate because the tunnel can be buried in emergencies to prevent invasions.
Most of the stone walls in Himeji Castle are arc-shaped, similar in shape to an open Ougi(fan).
This is in strategic consideration of being invaded.
Loopholes can be seen everywhere around the castle. These are actually a necessary part of the defense system made in the moat and donjon for shooting at enemies.
They were made in various shapes such as squares, circles, and triangular, and correspond to the type of weapon, and of course for ornamental purposes.