Himeji Castle: A National Treasure

Himeji Castle: A National Treasure

Himeji Castle is commonly regarded as the most beautiful castle in all of Japan. Not only do its famous white walls and incredible 600-year history make it a national treasure, but it is also an official World Cultural Heritage Site. 

Source: https://www.japan-guide.com/

Himeji Castle Fast Facts

Owner: Ministry of Education, Sports, Science & Technology

Management Organization: Himeji City

Height of the Main Keep: 91.9m above sea level

Weight of the Main Keep: 5,700 tons (estimated)

Number of Towers: 27

Number of Gates: 21

Number of Firing Holes (Sama): 997

Source: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/

A Dramatic History

1333 – Akamatsu Norimura raises an army by order of the Imperial Prince and constructs a fort on Hime-yama Hill.

1346 – Akamatsu Sadanori builds a large-scale castle on Hime-yama Hill.

1467 – The Onin War; The Kodera Clan of the Akamatsu family is assigned to Himeji Castle.

1581 – Hashiba Hideyoshi builds the 3-storied keep in Himeji Castle.

1600 – After the battle of Sekigahara, Ikeda Terumasa becomes the lord of Himeji Castle.

1609 – Ikeda Terumasa’s construction of the present-day 5-storied keep is completed.

1639-1749 – The castle domain is taken control of by a new family almost every 10 years.

1749 – Flooding causes major damage to the castle town.

1867Taiseihokan, return of political power to the Emperor.

1868 – Sakai Tadakuni, the last lord of the domain, proposes that the land and the people should be returned to the Emperor.

1871 – The Himeji domain is abolished and replaced by Himeji Prefecture, due to the abolition of the domain system in 1871.

1873 – A decision was made to preserve Himeji Castle under the Ordinance for Keeping and Disposal of Castles.

1889 – Himeji City is established.

1910 – “The Meiji Era Restoration” begins and is completed in 1911.

1931 – The main keep of Himeji Castle is designated as a National Treasure.

1945 – Air raids on Himeji; the castle miraculously survives.

1951 – The eight keeps of Hmeji Castle are designated as National Treasures.

1993 – Registered as Japan’s first UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, listed for Japanese wooden castle architecture.

2009 – “The Heisei Era Restoration” maintence and repair of the main keep begins, making national news for its large budget and modern restoration methods.

2015 – Maintenance and repair of the main keep is completed.

Source: www.himeji-kanko.jp

Himeji Castle’s Defense – Beauty & Strength

Tiles

One of the features making the castle so beautiful is the roof covered with a variety of flat and round tiles. Eight different family crests can be seen on the tiles, as proof of the repairs den by the lords of the past.

Source: http://www.kunin-jj.org/himeji-castle.html

 

Gates

Retaining the style of the Azuchi-Momyama period, there are 21 gates, including the massive Hishi-no-mon Gate and the Bizen-mon Gate.

Source: Trip Advisor

 

Sama (Firing holes)

There are 997 openings called sama in the walls from which arrows and guns were fired. They come in four different shapes – oblong, round, triangular, and square.

Source: https://www.japan-guide.com/

 

Windows

The thickly-latticed windows are to prevent enemy intrusions and the entry of arrows and bullets. The more ornately decorated windows are styled in the same way as many Buddhist temples.

Source: https://curiouspipistrelle.files.wordpress.com/

 

Walls

There are 32 walls designated as Important Cultural Properties. Wooden framework was popular at the time; however, the castle’s walls are actually made by stacking blocks of clay finished with white plaster to enhance the beauty of the exterior.

Source: https://momijidiary.wordpress.com/

 

Visit Himeji Castle

Source: http://www.dronestagr.am/

Hours of Operation:

Sept 1st – Apr 26th:   9am – 5pm (Last admission at 4pm)

Apr 27th – Aug 31st:  9am – 6pm (Last admission at 5pm)

*Closed on Dec 29 & 30

Admission Ticket:

Adult: 1000 yen

Child: 300 yen (from Elementary School to High School students)

Official Website:

http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/guide/castle

Source: SBS.au

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