Himeji Castle
Japan, Chugoku region

White Heron Castle (Himeji Castle) is located in the small town of Harima on the island of Hyogo at the base of Mount Hime. The construction of the castle was begun by the princes of Akamatsu in 1333, when the construction of defensive fortifications began on Mount Hime. The construction of the castle ended 13 years later. Due to the constant internecine wars, the castle replaced dozens of owners until the 16th century, passing into possession from one samurai dynasty to another. In 1577, a prominent military-political figure in Japanese history - the samurai Oda Nobunaga took control of the Harima district, and the castle of Himeji was transferred to the possession of the outstanding political leader of those years Toyotomi Hideyoshi. By that time, Himeji Castle was badly damaged by constant strife and required major repairs, which was started by the commander Toyotomi in 1601. Over the next 17 years, the current appearance of the fortress was formed. Old buildings and fortifications were repaired, new walls with 30 towers were erected. At the highest point of the hill was a seven-story Tenshu - the main tower of the citadel, whose height was 46 meters. Transitions to neighboring buildings became possible through covered corridors and walkways. The tower defenses were columns of wood about fifteen meters long along the height of the structure. The auxiliary towers had 4 floors, and only the northwest - five floors, but two floors are hidden from view, only 3 are visible. There were 84 gates in the fortress. Each gate was a separate work of architecture, with a special design, the shape of the windows and decor. Getting inside Himeji was not easy, even in peacetime. First, a stranger would have to cross the moat surrounding the castle, then wander for a long time through the vast spiral garden-labyrinth. It was planned that from loopholes, embrasures and defensive posts, the samurai would shell the stray enemy from three sides at once. In the event of a prolonged siege, weapons and food depots, livestock stalls and wells were provided in Himeji. However, the castle did not have to carry out any defensive goals, since in its history it has never been attacked or participated in battles. The castle did not collapse during earthquakes, it was not touched by fires. Even during World War II, the castle’s surroundings were damaged by the bombing of American aircraft, but it remained unscathed. White Heron Castle is one of the few Japanese castles. which have come down to us in their original form. They say that the fortune of the castle was passed on to its owners. The castle has hara-kiri-maru, a seppuku courtyard for ritual suicides. However, it was never used for its intended purpose. They say that the castle also protects the Shinto shrine, located on the top floor of the Main Tower. The temple, built on a mountain long before the castle, was moved to another place during the construction of the fortress, which brought many problems to local residents (natural disasters and crop failures). When the Sanctuary was returned to its place, harmony reigned on the earth again. It is in this sanctuary, according to legend, that the soul of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi lives, who wrote the “Book of Five Rings” about the strategy and philosophy of military craft. Among other things, the shimeihoko, a mythical creature tiger fish, adorns the roof of Himeji. It has magical properties, attracts rain and protects the building from fires. The sculpture weighs 250 kilograms. The name "Castle of the White Heron" received the fortress for its unique architecture, which is distinguished by the elegance of forms and the sharpness of the lines associated with this white bird. In total, the castle complex includes 83 buildings, almost all of them are built of wood. For some time now, the main elements of the castle’s design have become standards and are used in traditional Japanese architecture: white walls, stone foundations, loopholes and embrasures. Interestingly, the walls were painted white not for the sake of beauty. The surfaces were covered with a thick layer of lime to avoid fire. The interior of Himeji is elegantly decorated with wooden carvings and gold sliding partitions with the image of birds, trees, flowers. In the halls of the castle you can see samurai armor. Around the castle are picturesque Koko-en gardens with flowing waterfalls, pines, bamboo wattle, stone paths, gazebos and ponds overgrown with lotuses. Himeji Castle is a favorite place not only for tourists, but also for filmmakers. Within the walls of this castle, many famous films were shot (“You Only Live Twice”, “Shadow of a Warrior” and “Ran.” In 2003, the historical film “The Last Samurai” starring Tom Cruise was shot in Himeji). Since 1993, the White Heron Castle, previously declared the National Treasure of Japan, is taken under the protection of UNESCO.

Tourist Objects nearby
Related Tour Objects
Palaces and castles
Palaces and castles
Palaces and castles
Sforzesco Castle
Sforzesco Castle
Palaces and castles
Castle of Emperor Johannes
Castle of Emperor Johannes
Palaces and castles
Castle Hluboká nad Vltavou
Castle Hluboká nad Vltavou
Palaces and castles
Moorish Castle in Sintra
Moorish Castle in Sintra
Palaces and castles
Belvedere Palace in Warsaw
Belvedere Palace in Warsaw
Palaces and castles
Princely Palace of Monaco
Princely Palace of Monaco
Palaces and castles