Himeji Castle (White Egret Castle)
Another short ride from Kyoto on
Japan's reliable train system is the
amazing Himeji Castle. Akamatsu
Norimura, a Japanese samurai and clan
leader, started building it in 1333.
Construction completed in 1601. Every
temple, castle, or shrine you visit in
Japan often makes claim to being the
biggest wooden building in the world,
but Himeji Castle might well be it; it
is enormous. It is worth your effort to
tour the castle and explore its
cavernous interior. Stone construction
of castles in Europe is common, but in
Japan the material of choice is wood.
Given how old Himeji Castle is, and its
building material, it is well preserved.
Special area to lockup women
Himeji Castle is freezing cold inside
like so many ancient buildings in Japan.
Unlike many European castles Himeji
Castle is very Spartan. There is no real
comfy or luxurious living quarters in
the place; it seemed as if life was all
military work and no play. The castle
has a special area to lockup women. The
rest of the compound has many places to
store guns and rocks. There are holes
everywhere in the walls for throwing
anything at hand out at your enemies,
such as rocks, boiling oil, and other
It took 250,000 man-days and a cost
of 550 million yen to substantially
repair the castle complex in 1956.
Heavily bombed in 1945, at the end of
World War II, Himeji Castle survived;
although most of the surrounding area
burnt to the ground. One firebomb
dropped on the top floor of the castle,
but fortunately failed to explode. In
January 1995 the Great Hanshin
earthquake, substantially damaged the
city of Himeji, but Himeji Castle again
survived virtually undamaged.
Himeji Castle is a must see while
Join me on the next leg of our trip
in my next article on the Land of the
Rising Sun; Japan.