Himeji Castle ("Himeji-jo" in Japanese) is a
castle on a small hill located about 1.5 km north of JR Himeji station.
It is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan, and the nickname is "Shirasagi-jo" or "Hakuro-jo" meaning "Egret Castle" because of its white walls.
It is designated a World Heritage Site.
It is said that a first small castle was built here in 1346.
In 1580, the full-fledged castle was built as the central base to govern this area.
After the foundation of Edo government, a major expansion work was done between 1601 to 1609.
Then Himeji Castle became the large-scale castle.
After the end of feudal period in 1868, the new Meiji Government
demolished many castles in Japan because the castles were unnecessary
for the modern state.
But the preservation activity of old castles started in the late 1870s, then this castle avoided demolition.
Instead, a regiment was deployed in the site of the Himeji Castle. At that time, several buildings were demolished.
A major repair of the castle was done in 1910, and the castle was opened to the public in 1912.
When the World War II was near its end, Himeji city was destroyed in
air raids in July 1945.
Because there is a regiment in the site of Himeji Castle, the castle was the important target for US Air Force.
Fortunately, the bombs to the castle misfired. So this beautiful castle escaped the destruction.
Next day, many people in the destroyed city cried at the sight of the beautiful castle with no damage.
From 1956 to 1964, the castle tower was repaired.
And from 2009 to 2014, the castle tower is repairing again.
The site is about 800 meters from east to west and about 700 meters
from north to south.
It is surrounded with some moats.
The castle tower is on a low hill about 45 meters high, and the way to the castle tower is set up spirally.
On the way, many gates and lookout towers are set up, and the way has many turning points and narrow sections.
It was the construction to defend against enemies.
The castle tower has a main tower and three sub towers, and the main
tower has 7 stories and the other towers have 6 stories.
The main tower is about 46 meters high.
There is a wide vacant lot. It is "San'nomaru" and was the area with
the residences of the generals.
The residences were demolished when the regiment was set up.
There is a Japanese garden "Kokoen" in the west part of the site. (It
is pronounced long as "Kookoen" in Japanese.)
Originally there was the residences of samurai, and the gardens were constructed in 1992, with using the ruins of the residences.
The 3.5 hectares garden has nine different gardens and the restored gates and walls, and it looks like a town of samurai.
Get off at Himeji station on
San'yo Shinkansen. About 47 minutes from Kyoto, about 30 minutes from
Shin-Osaka, by "Nozomi".
From there, about 15 minutes on foot, or about 5 minutes by route bus.