Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle








Photo Source: Mr Wabu Via Flickr


I always talk about Japanese gadgets and technological innovations but never about the fascinating attractions in Japan. You know, things to do, places to see in this advanced nation. So today I picked on one of the most visited locations in Japan – the Himeji Castle! The castle itself is located in Himeji City, in the Hyogo Prefecture and is within easy distance of the Prefecture capital, Kobe. 

Castles never go out of style for most of us. It could be the nostalgia about nobility and their luxurious. Or, for the more quirky ones among us, it could a fascination with defense, architecture and warrior units. Sorry, that was the Starcraft fan in me coming to the fore. Well, Himeji Castle is will cater to both these groups. This expansive castle complex dates back to the 14th Century and  used to be under the control of different clans before falling under the supervision of the government in the 19th Century. It is the pride of Japanese folk today and is also listed as a World Heritage Site.

Himeji Castle certainly is fascinating. The formidable structure consists of various towers (larger ones complemented by smaller towers), most of which are interconnected to each other. You know, the usual castle scenario. I've read that the inner courtyard and pathways can be quite confusing to the new visitor and it is lose your way here. The buildings are made of a combination of wood and stone where the latter makes up the base of most structures.

This attraction's defense capabilities and history, in its day, is sure to impress you. For instance, did you know that the stone walls are not straight but rather, spread outwards at a sloping angle? My guess was that this hindered folks from climbing up but apparently it was also to stop folks from looking right up at the castle. Hmm, for defense against arrows then? Then there are these small openings in various sections from which defenders would shoot arrows, throw stones as well as pots of boiling water! All the various buildings had different purposes; I was particularly curious about the section dedicated for harakiri-maru, you know, the place where samurai folk go to die.