Himeji Castle: Japan’s “White Heron” Castle
Himeji Castle is undoubtedly one of Japan's most popular and imposing structures to date. The "White Heron" Castle, as it is fondly called, was built by Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's relative, Terumasa Ikeda, during the early years of the 17th Century.
Historians and art aficionados alike agree that it is without a doubt, the best preserved castle in Japan. The surrounding stone walls, towers, and turrets are still visible in the castle; something that most of Japan's castles as of the present do not already have, either because of natural disasters or destructive human wars.
Himeji castle is aptly called the "White Heron" Castle because of its general motif, which is white plastered walls. In 1993, UNESCO declared it both as a national treasure and a world heritage site. The castle itself is undoubtedly a fusion between vintage Japanese art and tactically-superior defensive power. Its intricate architectural design of a complicated spiral labyrinth pattern in its inner walls confused many attackers during times of war before.
Moreover its highest optimal point, which is 46.4 meters above the high hill where it is located, was the reason why it was able to foresee the attack of its enemies -- since it was virtually a watchtower that covered the vast area that surrounded it. Anyone who visits Himeji Castle would be surprised to see how comfortable it feels to be inside the castle -- this was perhaps the reason why their enemies often did not stand a chance when wars became unavoidable.
Right now, the castle is located in the Hyogo Prefecture, specifically in Himeji City's central location. It is easily accessible from the Himehi Station, and is about 50 km away from the city of Kobe. It is also relatively close to Kyoto, and Himeji Castle is especially popular during cherry blossom seasons.