Himeji Castle --- The only Castle in Japan that is a UNESCO World Heritage
Himeji castle, designated as a National Treasure as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the best castles in Japan, and is the symbol for the city of Himeji.
This beautiful white castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, is comprised of a main tower, which is the castle complex, and two subsidiary towers. The castle and its surrounding beauty attract visitors in all seasons. But when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom during spring, it attracts visitors from all across Japan and the castle becomes one of the most popular flower viewing spots in Hyogo.
Abura-kabe, the unique outer wall of the castle
Himeji Castle is often used to shoots movies and TV shows Because the castle’s main tower and the outer walls are in such great condition. It is even used as a stand in for Edo castle and other castles. Himeji castle was used for the filming of “007: You Only Live Twice.”
Himeji city was an important military site during the World War II, and for that, it was one of the bombing targets. A bomb was dropped on the main tower, but miraculously, the bomb did not go off and the castle was not damaged.
The paths to get to the main tower have many twists and turns, making it very difficult to reach the tower. Even the gates are very small so that only one person can go through at a time.
The Hishi-no-mon gate to the Iroha-no-mon gate is the shortest route to the castle, but it is actually a roundabout way.
Standing at Ha-no-mon, the main tower looks extremely close, but if you continue the path, it will take you away from the tower.
Mizu-no-nimon -- Mizu-no-sanmon
Although the path between Mizu-no-nimon and Mizu-no-sannmon is the correct way to the main tower, the path between these two gates is a downhill slope built on purpose to make the intruders think they’re going the wrong way.
Going through the Ru-no-mon gate is the shortest route, but there is a hole in the stone wall near by, called the Uzumi-mon, which is a trap that can send landslide through it and block Ru-no-mon gate.
The walls at Himeji Castle are built in a shape of a fan. Meaning, the walls aren’t built straight, but they are built with a curve so that ninjas can’t climb up from the outside wall.
Himeji Castle is filled with many tricks and traps to stop intruders from reaching the main tower of the castle.
On the buildings, surrounding walls and roofing tiles, different types of family crests can be found. This is because many lords claimed Himeji Castle as their home. For example, the butterfly crest of the Ikeda family, the paulownina crest of the Hashiba family, the hollyhock crest of the Honda family. Family crests of the families that owned Himeji Castle are on display for those who are interested in the history of the castle. One of them includes the cross-shaped crest, a crest of a Christian lord that once ruled Himeji Castle.
Roofing tiles with family crests
There are other fun and interesting things at Himeji Castle.
Take your time to explore and learn about the castle. There is more than meets the eye in this magnificent structure.
※The main tower is undergoing restoration work until the spring of 2014.
Hyogo also has historical sites like Kyoto and Nara.
There are National Treasures like Sanju-no-to tower and the Amida-sanzon statue, which seems to glow in the sunset. For those who are interested in Japanese history, there are many must-sees in the prefecture.
Engyo-ji temple on Shosha Mountain in Himeji city, used in the filming of “The Last Samurai,” is another popular sightseeing spot. The temple is of the Tendai-sect, the same as the temples on Mt. Hiei, and they were used as the training grounds for monks.
Jyodoji Amidasanzon Ichijou-ji temple Kakurin-ji temple Taisan-ji temple Engyo-ji temple of Shosha Mountain