Himeji Castle Keep 姫路城の 天守閣
A print showing the construction of Himeji castle keep.
The keep of Himeji Castle seems to have only 5 floors, but actually includes a sixth hidden one...
Point of Retreat
It overlooks the entirety of Himeji Castle, and defies any assailant. But climbing the six floors of Himeji Castle Keep requires good legs!
The enemy was never supposed to make it all the way here: the tower is the centerpiece of any Japanese castle, and the point of retreat if ever the walls and moats were unable to hold back an army. Perched on a low hill, the tower is visible from afar and looms imposingly when you get up close.
Himeji Castle is formed of one main structure and three secondary structures, all interconnected - the watchtowers, gates, and defensive traps (slits, battlements) ensure its defense.
You are required to take off your shoes to enter Himeji Castle's main tower (Dai-Tenshu), of which we can see five floors from the outside but in reality it has six (one block contains the last two). The climb isn't easy, very steep steps having been built to slow the progression of the attackers. On the first floor there is a museum exhibiting the troops arsenal, including armor, swords and Japanese guns based on European models. At the top of the keep, the tough climb is rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city of Himeji and the inland sea.