The castle is also knows as The White Heron Castle because of its white walls covered with white plaster. This material was mainly used used because of its fireproof capabilities, but because it is also considered to be a strong reinforcement. The building is made out of wood and not stone, so the risk of fire is quite a threat.
The castle built on the top of a hill called Himeyama is the most visited castle in Japan, and one of Japan's "Three Famous Castles" along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle. The building is comprising 83 wooden buildings, with the main tower standing 92 meters above sea level. The strategic position and the design of the castle made it well known for its highly effective and complicated defensive arrangement that made it very easy for any stranger to get lost.
The history of the castle began in 1333 with the construction of a fort by Norimura Akamatsu, the ruler of Harima District (Himeji region). The reconstruction began in 1601 by Terumasa Ikeda, the son-in -law of the Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa who wanted to transform it in a five storied main tower with three small towers. Himeji was a very important defensive position for the Tokugawa shogunate government, and fortunately it was never damaged by warfare, not even during the Second World War, although most of the surrounding area was burned to the ground. Therefore, the castle has kept its original form for almost 400 years.
In 1956 a restoration of the castle began, and in 1993, Himeji Castle was registered on UNESCO's World Heritage list and a Japanese National Cultural Treasure in the same year. In 1992 the Himeji Koko-en garden was built, in order to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Himeji municipality.
The castle and its surroundings with the beautiful trees and flowers, waterfalls and walkways make the visit of Himeji Castle a real authentic Japanese experience.
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