On the way back from Kurashiki I took the chance to stop off at Himeji to see the castle. it’s considered one of the best castles in Japan and it’s easy to see why. First of all the castle is very pretty from the outside with brilliant white walls and a grey roof that is lined in white. This gives it quite of white look that other Japanese castles tend not to have. Secondly, the castle is very old and is, mostly, still made of wood. This makes it very beautiful form the inside. A lot of Japanese castles have either fallen down due to natural disasters or were burned down in the war. They get rebuilt but usually using modern construction methods with steel and concrete. Himeji has had a lot of renovation but generally in keeping with the original construction.

The construction of Japanese castles is such that the keep is at a high point in the center and the approach forms a spiraling maze that gradually moves up. This made the keep easier to defend. It also makes the approach to the keep rather nice as you gradually move around it seeing it from different angles as you approach. This sequence of photo’s shows this.

I didn’t take many photo’s inside and the few that I did take aren’t so good due to low light levels. Basically it’s a wooden construction inside. Of note are the Shachihoko. These appear at the end of the roof ridges.

They have the face of a tiger and the body of a fish. The legend is that they will put out fires. I don’t remember either fish or tigers having much of a reputation for putting out fires but there you go. This is what they look like close up.

All in all a good day out.