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Himeji Castle






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Himeji Castle
World Cultural Heritage


From the second half of the 15th century, rival warlords in Japan were the masters of their own regions. From around that time, castles in Japan changed from being just a military facility to a symbol of the feudal warlord's power. Many beautiful castles were built during this period. Himeji Castle, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993, has beautiful whitewashed walls, and so it is also known as the White Heron Castle.

In 1333 Norimura Akamatsu, the ruler of Harima District, built a fort and in 1346, his son, Sadanori built premises.  After them, the Kotera and Kuroda clans ruled the area. It is said by some scholars that the original castle was built in the middle of the 16th century when Shigetaka Kuroda and his son Mototaka Kuroda ruled the district.  When Kanbei Yoshitaka Kuroda ruled, Hideyoshi Hashiba came to the castle in order to build his own three-storied castle.  After the Sekigahara Civil War the lord named Terumasa Ikeda, son-in-law of the Shogun Ieyasu Tokuawa moved into the castle to rule.  His annual salary was 520,000 koku of rice (1 koku = 5 bushels).  In 1601, Terumasa Ikeda started digging three moats around the castle building and completed the whole castle complex as it is in 1609.  The outer moat is just north of J.R. Himeji Station today.  After the Ikedas, Tadamasa Honda added some buildings in West Bailey.  His annual salary was 150,000 koku of rice.  The castle is believed to have been completely finished in 1618.  After the Honda family there were other lords such as the Matsudairas, the Sabakibaras, etc.  Finally Tadazumi Sakai came as the lord in 1749.  His descendants met with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the Shogunite systems disappeared.

The Main Tower with the smaller towers and corridors connecting these towers have been registered as national treasures.  The Cosmetic Tower, 27 'yagura', 15 gates, and 1,000 meter-long earthen walls have been registered as important cultural treasures.  A part of the middle moat, and the whole inner moat remain as they were in the feudal times.  And the areas inside the middle moat has been registered as a special historic site.

Himeji Castle
68 Hon-machi, Himeji, Hyogo
Tel: 0792-85-1146

     9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (September - May)
     9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (June - August)

Closed: Only for three days - 12/29 - 12/31.

Tour: Approximately 1 1/2 hours

     15 minute walk from J. R. Himeji station
     By car from Fukusaki Intersection of Chugoku Expressway




Curved Stone Wall with A Folding Fan Shape

The lower part  of the wall has a gentle slope, but it becomes steeper toward the top to defend against invaders climbing up on it.   



Four seasons of the Himeji Castle

Spring: There are about 1,000 cherry trees around Himeji castle.  They are in full bloom from the end of March to the beginning of April.

Summer: Bright sunshine with big green trees.

Autumn: Crimson leaves of the maple trees.

Winter : From January until February, you may see the castle covered in a blanket of snow .

Sightseeing Spots Around Himeji City

Himeji City Museum of art
Open : 10:00am ~ 5:00pm
Fee : 200 yen
Closed : Monday
Take a Shinki-bus from the north side of Himeji Station to Bijutsukanmae.

Himeji Castle Nishioyashikiato Garden Kokoen

Open : 9:00am ~ 5:00pm
Fee : 300 yen
Closed : Dec.29 ~ Jan. 1
Transportation : It's a 15 min. walk from Himeji Station.

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Map of Himeji City


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