In December 1993 for the first time in Japan, the National Treasure "Himeji Castle" along with Horyuji was named to the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage sites. With its majestic beauty and byname of White Heron Castle, and functioning as a fortress the combination of impregnable but gracefully skilled architecture of Himeji Castle has always fascinated anyone visiting the scene. In the almost 400 years since being established, there has never been a battle at Himeji Castle and the castle and peripherals inside the castle walls remain basically untouched. Additionally, the complex architectural beauty called "Coalition Style Donjon" is the only one in the country, and hence a very rare cultural asset.
Only 12 donjons remain in Japan, with just 4 of them being specified National Treasures: Himeji Castle, Matsumoto castle, Inuyama Castle, and Hikone Castle.
As a castle representative of Japanese history and culture, it is something that most certainly needs to be handed down to future generations for posterity.
Only the main keep is closed to restoration.
|Address||68 Honmachi, Himeji, 670-0012|
|Open||9：00～17：00（must enter by 16：00）
※extended closing time for one hour in April 29-August 31
|fee||400 yen/adult、100 yen/elementary and junior high school student (Group rate 30 people or more 10% off 100 people or more 20% off 300 people or more 30% off)|
|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.