|We asked this traditionally well-dressed couple directions to the castle|
After a leisurely morning in Okayama, we arrived 35 minutes away by fast train to Himeji to see the most massive and well preserved castle in Japan. Read more about this castle's history here. By the time we visited the tourist information center, chatted with the guy below,
got settled at our hotel, ate lunch, and walked to the castle it was about 2:30-3:00 pm.
A model of the castle shows how massive the castle and 85 outbuildings are.
Built on a hill, the castle dates back to 1333 and according to Wikipedia "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.["
The castle has been rebuilt and restored many times since then.
|Still standing after bombing in World War II|
When we left the south entrance of the train station, Himeji castle dominates the horizon.
It is about a 30-40 minute walk. The castle is partially surrounded by a moat
and it is a challenge just to get in (climbing up the hill with multiple twists, turns, passageways, and gates, all a part of the defensive strategy to protect the occupants.
|Archer's windows on wall|
|Artistic arrow openings pilfered from a temple.|
|One must stoop to get through this door.|
The massive boulder walls are built on an angled up slope with large rectangular holes at the top of the wall. While the angled wall made it easier for invaders to climb, it also provided a better view for the defenders to see the position of the enemy and with more precision roll out large rocks out of the rectangular openings to crush and kill invaders.
Inside the castle, the first floor is very dark, with little outside light from small openings in the thick rock walls.
More interesting than the other castles we have been in, this one is not a museum and still maintains the character and design of the rooms of the original castle. The rooms at the base are quite large and become smaller but with increasing light until the top layer of this castle is reached.
The top two levels of the castle provide an excellent observation tower.
After a couple of hours at the castle, we walked back along the main boulevard to the train station doing a little window shopping,
and dining along the way.
Tomorrow, we plan to visit a Buddhist Temple where part of the movie the Last Samauri was filmed, and take the train to Kobe.....maybe for dinner of Kobe beef, and then return to Himeji before heading to Hikone on Monday.