Himeji Castle

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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. 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.

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. Several buildings were later added to the castle complex by Honda Tadamasa from 1617 to 1618. For almost 700 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters including the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

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. 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. Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan's three premier castles. In order to preserve the castle buildings, it underwent restoration work for several years and reopened to the public on March 27, 2015. The works also removed decades of dirt and grime, restoring the formerly grey roof to its original brilliant white color.

Himeji Castle's construction dates to 1333, when a fort was constructed on Himeyama hill by Akamatsu Norimura, the ruler of the ancient Harima Province. In 1346, his son Sadanori demolished this fort and built Himeyama Castle in its place. In 1545, the Kuroda clan was stationed here by order of the Kodera clan, and feudal ruler Kuroda Shigetaka remodeled the castle into Himeji Castle, completing the work in 1561. In 1580, Kuroda Yoshitaka presented the castle to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and in 1581 Hideyoshi significantly remodeled the castle, building a three-story keep with an area of about 55m2 (590sqft).

Following the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu granted Himeji Castle to his son-in-law, Ikeda Terumasa, as a reward for his help in battle. Ikeda demolished the three-story keep that had been created by Hideyoshi, and completely rebuilt and expanded the castle from 1601 to 1609, adding three moats and transforming it into the castle complex that is seen today. The expenditure of labor involved in this expansion is believed to have totaled 2.5 million man-days. Ikeda died in 1613, passing the castle to his son, who also died three years later. In 1617, Honda Tadamasa and his family inherited the castle, and Honda added several buildings to the castle complex, including a special tower for his daughter-in-law, Princess Sen (千姫, Senhime).

In the Meiji Period (1868 to 1912), many Japanese castles were destroyed. Himeji Castle was abandoned in 1871 and some of the castle corridors and gates were destroyed to make room for Japanese army barracks. The entirety of the castle complex was slated to be demolished by government policy, but it was spared by the efforts of Nakamura Shigeto, an army colonel. A stone monument honoring Nakamura was placed in the castle complex within the first gate, the Hishi Gate (菱の門, Hishinomon).Although Himeji Castle was spared, Japanese castles had become obsolete and their preservation was costly.

When the han feudal system was abolished in 1871, Himeji Castle was put up for auction. The castle was purchased by a Himeji resident for 23 Japanese yen (about 200,000 yen or US$2,258 today). The buyer wanted to demolish the castle complex and develop the land, but the cost of destroying the castle was estimated to be too great, and it was again spared.

Himeji was heavily bombed in 1945, at the end of World War II, and although most of the surrounding area was burned to the ground, the castle survived intact. One firebomb was dropped on the top floor of the castle but failed to explode. In order to preserve the castle complex, substantial repair work was undertaken starting in 1956, with a labor expenditure of 250,000 man-days and a cost of 550 million yen. In January 1995, the city of Himeji was substantially damaged by the Great Hanshin earthquake, but Himeji Castle again survived virtually undamaged, demonstrating remarkable earthquake resistance. Even the bottle of sake placed on the altar at the top floor of the keep remained in place.

Himeji Castle was registered on 11 December 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. Five structures of the castle are also designated National Treasures: The main keep (大天守, daitenshu), northwest small keep (乾小天守, inui kotenshu), west small keep (西小天守, nishi kotenshu), east small keep (東小天守, higashi kotenshu), and I, Ro, Ha, Ni-corridors and kitchen (イ, ロ, ハ, ニの渡櫓附台所1棟, i, ro, ha, ni no watariyagura tsuketari daidokoro 1 to). The area within the middle moat of the castle complex is a designated Special Historic Site.

Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan's three premier castles. It is the most visited castle in Japan, receiving over 2,860,000 visitors in 2015. Starting in April 2010, Himeji Castle underwent restoration work to preserve the castle buildings, and reopened to the public on March 27, 2015.

Himeji Castle is the largest castle in Japan. It serves as an excellent example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, containing many of the defensive and architectural features associated with Japanese castles. The curved walls of Himeji Castle are sometimes said to resemble giant fans (扇子, sensu), but the principal materials used in the structures are stone and wood. Feudal family crests (家紋, kamon) are installed throughout the architecture of the building, signifying the various lords that inhabited the castle throughout its history.

The specific style of the castle is a hirayama (平山城 flat hilltop). Two castles that were built during the same time and shared many of the architectural features are Matsuyama Castle (Iyo) and Tsuyama Castle.

The Himeji Castle complex is located in the centre of Himeji, Hyōgo on top of a hill called Himeyama, which is 45.6m (150ft) above sea level. The castle complex comprises a network of 83 buildings such as storehouses, gates, corridors, and turrets (櫓, yagura). Of these 83 buildings, 74 are designated as Important Cultural Assets: 11 corridors, 16 turrets, 15 gates, and 32 earthen walls. The highest walls in the castle complex have a height of 26m (85ft). Joining the castle complex is Kōko-en (好古園), a Japanese garden created in 1992 to commemorate Himeji city's 100th anniversary.

From east to west, the Himeji Castle complex has a length of 950 to 1,600m (3,120 to 5,250ft), and from north to south, it has a length of 900 to 1,700m (3,000 to 5,600ft). The castle complex has a circumference of 4,200m (2.6mi). It covers an area of 233 hectares (2,330,000 m2 or 576 acres), making it roughly 50 times as large as the Tokyo Dome or 60 times as large as Koshien Stadium.

The main keep (大天守, daitenshu) at the center of the complex is 46.4m (152ft) high, standing 92m (302ft) abov...

  • Himeji Castle in May 2015 after the five-year renovation of the roof and walls
  • English: Himeji City town. View from Engyoji (Mt.Shosha) in Himeji, Hyogo prefecture, Japan
  • English: Himeji Castle,seen from westside.
  • English: Himeji Castle and Sakura Gate Bridge view from the entrance.
  • Himeji Castle
  • Keeps as seen from the grounds below
  • One of the ramps accessing to Himeji Castle
  • 日本語: 姫路城井戸曲輪を下から見上げて撮影した写真。左の櫓は帯郭櫓そして右側は帯の櫓。
  • English: Himeji castle in Himeji
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。備前丸から見た天守閣。
  • In Apr/May 2009, I took 15 days to walk all the way from Tokyo to Kyoto, roughly following the 546km long, ancient highw
  • English: Himeji Castle, UNESCO World Heritage Site Ref. Number 661, is a hilltop Japanese castle complex located in Hime
  • English: Himeji Castle view from below in May 2017.
  • 日本語: 2008年11月14日の夜、「世界糖尿病デー」のテーマカラーのブルーにライトアップされた姫路城。ほぼ北側から撮影。
  • 日本語: 2008年11月14日の夜、「世界糖尿病デー」のテーマカラーのブルーにライトアップされた姫路城。東南東から撮影。
  • English: Himeji castle
  • 2009年10月3日に姫路城三の丸広場にて開催された姫路城観月会の模様。
  • 2009年10月3日に姫路城三の丸広場にて開催された姫路城観月会の模様。
  • > Château d'Himeji
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。乾小天守から天守閣群の中心部を撮影。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。乾小天守から南の姫路市市街地を撮影。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。大天守から見た菱門。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。大天守から西側を撮影。鯱と男山(右の山)
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。石落とし。石を落とす為の溝の幅はおよそ10cm程度ある。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。塀と狭間。内側から撮影。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。化粧櫓の南側部分。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。ヨの渡櫓の通路。
  • 2009年秋の姫路城。化粧櫓から見た西の丸。
  • Русский: Замок Химэдзи с вишни с юго-запада
  • English: Himeji Castle in Tsu, Hyogo prefecture, Japan.
  • Русский: Замок Химэдзи с вишни из Химэдзи зоопарка
  • Русский: Замок Химэдзи с вишни с фронта
  • English: This is a view of Himeji castle during restoration in 2012. It shows the temporary cover protecting the keep du
  • English: Himeji Castle undergoing restoration in 2012. View of temporary cover
  • English: Himeji castle restoration 2012. A small section of roof showing the different stages (left to right) of applyin
  • English: Himeji castle restoration 2012. Representative section of roof showing the structure beneath the tiles.
  • English: Himeji Castle restoration 2012. Once in a century close up view of the keep roof with the restoration nearing c
  • English: Himeji-jo (Japan)
  • English: Himeji-jo (Japan)
  • English: Himeji-jo (Japan)
  • Front view of the castle complex
  • A 1761 depiction of the castle complex
  • The "Three Country Moat" in the centre of the castle complex
  • A depiction of the intricate castle complex
  • The family crest of Ikeda Terumasa[5]
  • Weapon racks inside the keep
  • Defensive loopholes
  • Angled chutes or "stone drop windows"
  • "Diamond Gate", the first of the castle's 21 remaining gates[5]
  • Okiku's Well
  • A panoramic view of the castle grounds, with Himeji city in the background
  • Various external views with tourists, 2019
Wikipedia Article
Wikipedia Article
Himeji Castle
World Heritage Site?
A World Heritage Site!