Himeji Castle

      Himeji Castle  is a hilltop (as opposed to a flatland or mountaintop) Japanese castle complex located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture and comprising 83 wooden buildings. It is occasionally known as  Hakurojō or Shirasagijō (" White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior. It was registered as one of the first Japanese World Heritage Sites by UNESCO World Heritage Site and five structures of the castle have been designated as National Treasure in December, 1993. Along with Nagoya Castle and Kumamoto Castle, it is one of Japan's "Three Famous Castles", and is the most visited castle in Japan.
 
      Himeji serves as an excellent example of the prototypical Japanese castle, containing many of the defensive and architectural features most associated with Japanese castles. The tall stone foundations, whitewashed walls, and layout of the buildings within the complex are standard elements of any Japanese castle, and the site also features many other examples of typical castle design, including gun emplacements and stone-dropping holes.
 
      One of Himeji's most important defensive elements, and perhaps its most famous, is the confusing maze of paths leading to the main keep. The gates, baileys, and outer walls of the complex are organized so as to cause an approaching force to travel in a spiral pattern around the castle on their way into the keep, facing many dead ends. This allowed the intruders to be watched and fired upon from the keep during their entire approach. However, Himeji was never attacked in this manner, and so the system remains untested. Himeji Castle was originally built in 1346. At this time, it was called Himeyama Castle. In 1331, Akamatsu Sadanori planned a castle at the base of Mount Himeji, where Akamatsu Norimura had constructed the temple of Shomyoji. After Akamatsu fell during the Kakitsu War, Yamana clan briefly took over planning of the castle; the Akamatsu family took over again following the Ōnin War.
 
      In 1580, Toyotomi Hideyoshi took control of the badly damaged castle, and Kuroda Yoshitaka built a three-story tower. Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu granted Himeji Castle to Ikeda Terumasa who embarked on a nine-year expansion project that brought the castle roughly to its current form. "Only the east gate of one section of the second bailey" survived from the earlier period. The current keep dates from 1601, and the last major addition, the Western Circle, was completed in 1618. Himeji was one of the last holdouts of the   tozama daimyō at the end of the Edo period. It was held by the descendants of Sakai Tadasumi until the Meiji Restoration. In 1868, the new Japanese government sent the Okayama army, under the command of a descendant of Ikeda Terumasa, to shell the castle with blank cartridges and drive its occupiers out. When the han system was abolished in 1871, Himeji Castle was sold at auction. Its final price was 23 Japanese Yen (in those days, approximately 100,000 yen at today's rates) and in public funds. Himeji was bombed twice in 1945, at the end of World War II. Although most of the surrounding area was burned to the ground, the castle survived almost entirely unscathed, with one firebomb dropped on the top floor of the castle miraculously unexploded. Castle restoration efforts began in 1956. [ edit] Popular culture Front view of the castle Himeji Castle frequently appears on Japanese television. Edo Castle (the present Tokyo) does not have a keep, so when a fictional show such as Abarenbo Shogun  needs a suitably impressive substitute, the producers turn to Himeji.

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  • shree reddy
    shree reddy commented
    Himeji Castle is really fantastic place to visit. This is really very beautiful place. There are number of tourist visit this place and get enjoy their vacations at here. I am also planing to visit this place. I have heard about this place but never visit here before. This time I have get a chance to see it's beauty and enjoy vacation at this beautiful place. http://www.traveladda.com/
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  • Nadezhda Nikolova
    Nadezhda Nikolova updated
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  • aby reid
    aby reid updated a digital reference
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com