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Himeji Castle

08/25/07

Himeji Castle

  04:24:16 pm, Categories: Japan , Tags: castle, himeji, japan

Himeji Castle is a Japanese castle located in Himeji in Hyōgo Prefecture. It was the first Japanese National Cultural treasure to be registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Himeji serves as an excellent example of the typical Japanese castle, containing many of the defensive and architectural features most associated with Japanese castles. The tall stone foundations, whitewash walls, and organization of the buildings within the complex are standard elements of any Japanese castle, and the site also features many other examples of typical castle design, including gun emplacements and stone-dropping holes. The current keep dates from 1601, being restored in the 1950s by use of only old building techniques and no modern techniques or materials. A scale model was first made to check the building for any structural problems before the main tower was rebuilt.
Shrine at the top of Himeji Castle
Shrine at the top of Himeji Castle
Model used for structural checking
Model used for structural checking

One of Himeji's most important defensive elements, and perhaps its most famous, is the confusing maze of paths leading to the main keep. The gates, baileys, and outer walls of the complex are organized so as to cause an approaching force to travel in a spiral pattern around the castle on their way into the keep, facing many dead ends. This allowed the intruders to be watched and fired upon from the keep during their entire approach. However, Himeji was never attacked in this manner, and so the system remains untested.

At the top floor of the castle, there is a the shrine. This shrine used to be located where the castle stands today. When the castle was first built, the shrine was moved to another location, but this seemed to have bad luck. So they relocated it on its original spot, but inside the castle. Here at the top floor, you also have the possibility to place a red stamp on the back of your leaflet you got at the entrance, as a proof that you made it to the top. Here is my own stamped leaflet:
My stamp from Himeji Castle

Because of the complete preservation and its beauty, Himeji Castle is used frequently in the television series and movies, usually depicting other castles.

  • James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice' starring Sean Connery 1967, Himeji Castle appears as Tiger Tanaka's secret ninja training school and rocket weapons development center.
  • Akira Kurosawa's 'Kagemusha' from 1980
  • Akira Kurosawa's 'Ran' from 1985, Himeji was used for large parts of the film,
  • The Last Samurai fromm 2003 starring Tom Cruise, shot on location at Himeji Castle using artificial snow
  • Shogun, the 1980 TV-miniseries/film starring Richard Chamberlain, shot on location at Himeji Castle, called it Osaka Castle. But through the use of special effects it's located near the sea, but in reality Himeji castle cannot be seen from the sea.

Some links:

(some info taken from wikipedia)

2 comments

Comment from: Uradox  

Looks interesting, Simular to nagoya castle. Hop
Hope it was more interesting than Nagoya.. that really sucked. Everything was replica :(

08/26/07 @ 22:19
Comment from: peter  

That’s the beauty of Himeji Castle, it’s completely authentic! It’s never been in a war or real bombing.

08/27/07 @ 01:23

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