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Himeji Castle (White Egret Castle)

Himeji 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 nasty stuff.

Castle grounds

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 visiting Japan.

Join me on the next leg of our trip in my next article on the Land of the Rising Sun; Japan.


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