Himeji Castle is in Himeji, Japan, the second biggest city in Hyogo Prefecture. From amazing Himeji Castle history to the beautiful design of this five-story fortress, there are many aspects of this well-preserved feudal castle that helped it to become both a Japanese National Treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fairly quick one-hour journey from Kyoto or Osaka contribute to the popularity of tours, and it is also possible to see the castle on a day trip from Tokyo with a four-hour bullet train ride. Visitors journeying along the Sanyo Shinkansen often stop for a tour of Himeji Castle because of the close proximity.
Himeji Castle tours have become widely popular since the castle's UNESCO designation in 1931. Admission requires a small fee, but a free tour in English is available and will help visitors understand the history and points to appreciate in the castle. The most surprising of facts about Himeji Castle is that in the entire Himeji Caste history, no fire, earthquake, or war has ever destroyed it, thus it has remained in amazingly preserved condition. It is a classic model of Japanese architecture, incorporating both an awareness of spacial aspects and critical design. It has one main keep, called Tenshukaku, comprising five stories and three other smaller keeps.
It has been stood proud as a testament to Japan's golden age, a military command post, and a pedestal for political life. Himeji Castle tours reveal a castle disturbed only by natural elements, which is extremely rare among Japanese castles given the country's tumultuous past.
Originally built in 1346 as a stronghold against Japan's shoguns, Himeji Castle history shows a change in control of Harima district, which directly affects the castle's intention. Japanese leader Hideyoshi was put in command of the castle in 1577 by the emperor, and almost immediately begins new designs, converting the stronghold into an actual castle featuring more than 25 turrets.
Ikeda Termasa was gifted control over Himeji Castle in 1601 for his undying support in a paramount battle involving the Tokugawa clan. Nine years of an ongoing renovations transformed the castle into its present form and a demonstration of power and wealth. He used materials from his old garrison together with new ones to create a tenshu of five stories and a mid and outer moat. Himeji Castle history includes more than five families proceeding Hideyoshi's ownership that ruled the castle.
The use of traditional building styles has kept the castle the closest to authentic over any other castle in Japan. Beautiful tiles covering the roof are carved with crests of the many lords that presided over it. The roof slope is gracious and adds more appeal to the design. The main tower stems up toward the sky, akin to a white heron lifting off, and a nod to the original name of Himeji Castle; Shirasagi-Jo or White Heron. The most fascinating part of castle tours is the realization that the interior design is maze-like and complicated, meant to deter and confuse invaders. Lying just east of Kobe, Himeji Castle pops among the backdrop with stark-white walls, which is one of it's most distinguishing features. Original walls, moats, and towers contribute to the great popularity of Himeji Castle tours.