Himeji Castle was built in 1333 or 1346, stands 152′ tall, and is the tallest and most frequently visited castle in all of Japan. It’s also generally regarded as the most pristine surviving example of feudal architecture from the Feudal Period. Himeji Castle is also sometimes called the “White Egret Castle”, because the top of the castle looks like a bird in flight. In fact, this nickname is so pervasive, that white egrets are even featured on manhole covers throughout the city, on storefronts, flags, and visitors may even find the elegant white birds nesting in the trees around the castle.
Location: Himeji, Japan
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Hours: 9:00am – 4pm Daily
Admission Price: ¥1000
Built: Year 1346
This massive castle has 83 huge rooms inside, and has survived multiple strong earthquakes, attacks from warring Shoguns, and even the cruel fire bombings that ravaged much of Japan during World War II, including much of Himeji city, proving just how formidable the construction of this magnificent castle is. A story on a sign near the castle says that the only bomb that landed near Himeji Castle fell directly onto the roof of the building, and should have destroyed it, but the bomb failed to detonate, proving to be a completely inert dud, sparing the castle. I wish that war had never happened, but we can all be thankful that this castle, at the very least, was spared.
On top of being incredibly sturdy, beautiful, and culturally significant, this castle is also designated as a national treasure, meaning that it encapsulates the proud Japanese spirit, and represents the best of this beautiful country. We had the honor and privilege of touring the castle during the beautiful cherry blossom season, and it felt as though we’d stepped back in time. It was truly one of the most splendid castles I’d ever seen, and I’ve seen dozens of them around the world.
After touring the beautiful castle, we walked the park, called Higashi-Oyashikiato Park, on the opposite side of the moat, and watched the sunset over the beautiful body of water that was filled with hundreds of huge carp, nesting birds, and cherry blossoms dancing on the surface of the water. This castle was such a beautiful place to see from all angles, and although we only spent 1 day in Himeji, we had a wonderful time site seeing in this beautiful, regal city in the shadow of Himeji Castle.
The castle is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was the very first UNESCO site designated in the nation. UNESCO World Heritage Sites are chosen to emphasize the incredible beauty, cultural relevance, and history of the area, so it only makes sense that this storied castle would be recognized amongst other iconic buildings and cultural sites. I recommend arriving early to get a ticket, so that you can visit before other people arrive, or come back later in the day when the crowds die down.
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