The pinnacle of Japanese architectural achievement. This is the most complete, well-preserved castle in the country.
The castle complex you can visit today was first constructed over 400 years ago in 1609.
Unlike most other castles, Himeji was never destroyed by fire, earthquake, or war. It's one of only twelve remaining original castles in Japan.
Himeji Castle - Hishi-no-Mon Gate
This is the most imposing of all the gates that surround the main keep. The black paint and gold trim around the windows is also a unique feature.
The main keep is directly connected to corridors and wing buildings. This is another feature that makes Himeji Castle different from all the rest.
The wooden ribs filling all the windows is a defensive feature; they provided cover while still allowing archers and rifflemen to shoot their weapons.
The castle was officially listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1993.
The path leading up to the main tower zig-zags back and forth and passes through a number of smaller gates along the way. This feature not only slowed the advance of attacking forces, it also exposed them to arrow and riffle fire for extended periods of time.
From the outside it looks like the main keep is a five-story structure, but don't be fooled! There are actually six separate floors -- seven if you include the basement.