If you are traveling to either Hiroshima or Osaka, make it a point to drop off at Himeji to see the wonderful Himeji Castle. If you don't, you will pass through Himeji, see this marvelous fuedal structure in the distance and wonder for the rest of your life why you didn't.

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Himeji Castle

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Himeji Castle
姫路城
Himeji, Hyōgo, Japan
Himeji castle in may 2015.jpg
Himeji Castle in May 2015 after the five-year renovation of the roof and walls
Himeji Castle 姫路城 is located in Japan
Himeji Castle 姫路城
Himeji Castle
姫路城
 
Coordinates 34°50′22″N 134°41′38″E Coordinates: 34°50′22″N 134°41′38″E
Type Azuchi-Momoyama castle[1]
Height 46.4 m (152 ft)
Site information
Condition Intact, restoration work for preservation recently completed[2]
Site history
Built
  • 1333, 1300 (Himeyama fort/castle)[3]
  • 1581 (expansion)[3]
  • 1601–1609 (expansion)[3]
  • 1617–1618 (expansion)[4][5]
Built by
In use 1333–1868[3][6]
Materials Wood, stone, plaster, tile[5]
Demolished
  • 1346 (demolished for reconstruction)[3]
  • 1601–1609 (demolished for reconstruction)[5]
Garrison information
Garrison
  • ~500 (Ikeda family, soldiers)[5]
  • ~4,000 (Honda family, soldiers)[5]
  • ~3,000 (Sakakibara family, soldiers)[5]
  • ~2,200 (Sakai family, soldiers)[5]
 
UNESCO World Heritage site
Criteria Cultural: i, iv
Reference 661
Inscription 1993 (17th Session)
Area 107 ha
Buffer zone 143 ha
 
Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle (Chinese characters).svg
"Himeji Castle" in kanji
Japanese name
Kanji 姫路城

Himeji Castle (姫路城 Himeji-jō) is a hilltop Japanese castle complex situated in the city of Himeji which is located in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 rooms with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.[7] The castle is frequently known as Hakuro-jō or Shirasagi-jō ("White Egret Castle" or "White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.[6][8]

Himeji Castle dates to 1333, when Akamatsu Norimura built a fort on top of Himeyama hill. The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346, and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Himeji Castle was then significantly remodeled in 1581 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who added a three-story castle keep. In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Ikeda completely rebuilt the castle from 1601 to 1609, expanding it into a large castle complex.[3] Several buildings were later added to the castle complex by Honda Tadamasa from 1617 to 1618.[5] For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.[3][2][9]

Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.[2] The area within the middle moat of the castle complex is a designated Special Historic Site and five structures of the castle are also designated National Treasures.[5][10] Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan's three premier castles.[11] In order to preserve the castle buildings, it underwent restoration work for several years and reopened to the public on March 27, 2015.[12] The works also removed decades of dirt and grime, restoring the formerly grey roof to its original brilliant white color.