Himeji Castle [姫路城]

Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle
Photo by Himeji City

Himeji Castle in spring
Himeji Castle in spring
Photo by Himeji City

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 "White Egret Castle" or "White Heron Castle" because of its white walls.

It has been designated a World Heritage site.

It is said that a first small castle was built in this place 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 from 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 escaped the demolition.

Instead, a regiment of Japanese army was deployed in the site of the Himeji Castle.
At that time, several buildings were demolished.

Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle
Photo by Himeji City

View from Himeji Castle
View from Himeji Castle
Photo by Himeji City

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 by US air raids in July, 1945.

Because there was 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.
The next day of the air raid, 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 was repaired again.

Himeji Castle in the evening
Himeji Castle in the evening
Photo by Himeji City

Inside of Himeji Castle
Inside of Himeji Castle
Photo by Himeji City

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 above sea level, 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.

That was the construction to defend against enemies.

The castle tower has a main tower and three additional towers.

The main tower has seven stories and the other towers have six stories.
The height of main tower is 32.5 meters and the tower is built on the stone wall about 15 meters high.

We can enter the inside of main castle tower.

The highest floor is an observatory room.
And there is a small "Osakabe Shrine" as a guardian deity of the castle on the floor.

Osakabe Shrine in Himeji Castle
Osakabe Shrine in Himeji Castle
Photo by Himeji City

Sannomaru in Himeji Castle
Sannomaru in Himeji Castle
Photo by Himeji City

There is a wide vacant lot to the south of the castle tower.
The area is called "Sannomaru" and the residences of the generals were in the area.

The residences were demolished when the regiment was set up.

Himeji Castle

Kôkoen (好古園)

Street in Kokoen
Street in Kokoen
Photo by Himeji City

Cho-on-sai guest house in Kokoen
Cho-on-sai guest house in Kokoen
Photo by Himeji City

Kôkoen is a Japanese garden in the western part of the castle.

Originally, there were the residences of samurai.

Nine Japanese gardens were were constructed on the site in 1992.
The ruins of the residences are used as the gardens.

The site forms an almost triangle, and the length of a side is about 250 meters.

Garden with Hill and Pond in Kokoen
Garden with Hill & Pond in Kokoen
Photo by Himeji City

Sojuan tea house in Kokoen
Sojuan tea house in Kokoen
Photo by Himeji City

The visitors can enjoy the scenery of all gardens as if they are walking in samurai town.

Kôkoen

How to get here

Get off at Himeji station on San-yo Shinkansen.
46 to 55 minutes from Kyoto, about 32 to 41 minutes from Shin-Osaka.

Or, by JR Kobe Line, 45 to 70 minutes from Sannomiya.

From the station, about 15 minutes on foot, or about 5 minutes by route bus.

Hotels around Himeji Castle

Hotels around Himeji Castle

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