Toyotomi Hideyoshi first built a small castle on this site for his campaigns in western Japan from 1577-1580. You can still see some of the remnants of Hideyoshi's castle in Himeji castle as Ikeda incoporated some of the stone walls into his castle. Ikeda Terumasa, an ally of Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara, was awarded this province (Harima) for his alliance during the war. Ikeda Terumasa built the main keep of Himeji-jo and erected the castle as it is known today. Himeji-jo's nickname Shirasagi-jo means "White Heron Castle" because the main keep with its three smaller towers resembles a white heron. Himeji-jo was granted "World Heritage" status by UNESCO in 1993.
Himeji Castle is the most spectacular example of a Japanese castle in existence. The beauty of the main keep is unrivalled throughout Japan and the extent of surviving structures is amazing. Even for someone who is not particularly interested in castles or history a trip to Himeji-jo is fascinating. This can be a half day side trip on the way to Hiroshima or a short day trip from Osaka or Kyoto.
|English Name||Himeji Castle|
|Alternate Names||Shirasagi-jo (White Heron castle)|
|Castle Condition||Original main keep|
|Designations||Top 100 Castles, UNESCO World Heritage Site, has Important Cultural Properties, has National Treasures, Special Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Main Keep Structure||5 levels, 6 stories|
|Artifacts||I Watariyagura, Ho Yagura, He Watariyagura, Obi Yagura, Ikaku Yagura, Chi Yagura, Ri Watariyagura; (1st & 2nd sections), Nu Gate, Kesho Yagura, Ka Watariyagura, Nu Yagura, Hishi gate, To Yagura, Orimawari Yagura, Taiko Yagura, Yo Watariyagura, Ru Yagura, Ta Watariyagura, Wo Yagura, Re Watariyagura, Wa Yagura, I Gate, Ha Gate, Ni Gate, He Gate, To no Ichi Gate, To no Ni Gate, Chi Gate, Ri Gate, Mizu no Ichi gate, Bizen Gate, To no Yon Gate East Wall, To no Yon Gate West Wall, To no Ni Gate East Wall, He Gate East Wall, He Gate West Wall, Mizu no Ichi Gate North Tsuiji Wall, Mizu no Ichi Gate West Wall, Ni Yagura South Wall, Mizu no Go Gate South Wall, I Watariyagura South wall, Ni Gate Upper East Wall, Ni Gate Lower East Wall, Ro Yagura East Wall, Ro Yagura West Wall, Ha Gate East Wall, Ha Gate West Wall, Ha Gate South Wall, Ro Gate East Wall, Ro Gate Southwest Wall, Kesho Yagura South Wall, Wa Yagura East Wall, Ka Yagura North Wall, Hishi Gate West Wall, Hishi Gate South Wall, Hishi Gate East Wall, I Gate East Wall, Taiko Yagura South Wall, Taiko Yagura North Wall, Obikuruwa North Wall, Ikaku Yagura South Wall, To Yagura South Wall, Ro Watariyagura, Ha Watariyagura, Ni Watariyagura, Obikuruwa Yagura, Ro Yagura, Ni Yagura, Ka Yagura, Ro Gate, To no Yon Gate, Mizu no Ni Gate, main tenshu, East Kotenshu, I Watariyagura, Ro Watariyagura, Inui Kotenshu, West Kotenshu, Ha Watariyagura, Ni Watariyagura|
|Features||main keep, gates, turrets, water moats, stone walls, walls|
|Access||Himeji Station (Sanyo Honsen/Shinkansen), walk 15 minutes.|
|Location||Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture|
|Coordinates||34° 50' 17", 134° 41' 37"|
|Year Visited||1996, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2009, 2012|
|Visits||February 1996; December 1997; August 1998; March 21, 2004; November 15, 2009|