Himeji Castle 姫路城
Himeji Castle Refurbished!
The most famous castle in Japan will be fully accessible to the public from March 27, 2015, after 5 years of work.
5 years of scaffolding and Himeji Castle has regained its keep, its famous white (its walls are whitewashed), and its nickname "White Heron Castle".
Visitors can once again enjoy a building that remains the largest, most successful and most famous of its kind in Japan, and the first Japanese architecture listed to Unesco (including the Horyu-ji in Nara). The filmmaker Akira Kurosawa was not wrong when he filmed scenes for Ran (1985) and Kagemusha (1980) there.
The site hosted a stronghold since the late fourteenth century. Before Ieyasu (the first shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty) got his hands on the building, and soon increased its size by a four storey tower (1609) and larger grounds. Himeji castle has never once been affected by earthquakes or fires, however the castle was abandoned in 1871, before the city decided to take care of its maintenance.
A visit to Himeji castle takes a good 3-4 hours, especially if one wants to enjoy a walk in the gardens of the Koko-en. You start at the front gate of Hishinomon, built into in thick walls, which gives access to the inner moat of Goku-bori (the only intact one - it is possible to ride a boat on Sat, Sun and public holidays - 1000 yen - 10 starts / day).
The moats are only a small portion of the exceptional defensive architecture of Himeji, where you can admire closely the arrow slits in the walls and machicolation. From here onwards you can go through several passages and chicanes, but especially a maze that leads you to the main keep of the castle: the narrow and tortuous roads built to avoid an army entering the heart of the castle, which housed the lord and his riches.