Himeji Castle is my favorite castle in Japan and I came to visit it for the third time (2012 and 2016).

The white castle is one of the few original castles that were not lost to war and fire unlike many modern reconstructions (that are built from concrete and sometimes feature an elevator).

From the station it is a 10 minute walk to the castle park and from there a winding road leads to the castle. The way is long and windy on purpose to slow down attackers.

The castle grounds were laid out strategically to make it very defendable when enemies attack. First of all, there are many traps and the way often splits off into dead ends. Moreover, the gates become smaller each time and many corners make it hard to predict what awaits after the next turn. The small loopholes in the wall serve for shooting arrows and gunshots and there are trap doors where stones fall down from.

The tricks surely would have worked well but apparently the castle was never attacked (maybe because of its strong defense).

The main keep has six stories, including a hidden floor that cannot be seen from outside, further confusing the enemy. The inside is mostly empty because the Japanese castles served as defense castles and not as residences. At the top you can overlook Himeji and the grounds.

The castle was renovated between 2009 and 2015, so when I visited in 2012 the experience was quite different. The castle was completely covered by scaffolding but it was possible to enter the space between it and the outside of the castle, allowing for a special view.

Himeji castle shielded under renovation

Apart from the main keep there are many more things to see, like the west bailey and the garden.

I can really encourage all of you to visit Himeji.

The white castle of Himeji
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