In 1992, Japan ratified the Convention Concerning Protection of World Cultural and National Heritage Sites. The following year, Himeji Castle was registered as one of the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since being renovated by Ikeda Terumasa 400-years ago, it has never been badly damaged in battle or hit by the bombs of WW2. Apart from still being intact, its prototypical Japanese castle architecture and advanced defense system are the reasons is was chosen as a World Heritage Site.
Following a 6-year period of renovation called “Heisei no Daishūri (The Great Heisei Renovation)”, Himeji Castle’s fresh looking Tenshukaku (central tower) has become the talk of the town.
As it looks like a white egret spreading its wings in the sky, Himeji Castle is also known “Hakurojō (White Egret Castle). Its appearance is due to a plastering method called “Shiro Shikkui Sōnurikomezukuri” that was used to prevent the spread of fire in the event of a firearms attack. However, some local residents who are used to seeing the dingy grey Tenshukaku complain that it is now way too white. They say that it’s not ‘white egret castle’ anymore, it’s ‘white enhanced castle’!
The outside is completely covered in white plaster; not only the walls of the central tower, but also the lattice windows, the back of the eaves, the rafters, and the joints between roof tiles. The reason is that, just after the Battle of Sekigahara, Ikeda Terumasa wanted the castle to be beautiful and ideologically overwhelm neighboring regions.
This is the first time in 50 years that the castle can be seen in pure white as originally intended when built. They say that the freshness will only last a few years even though a mildew-proofing agent was added for the first time. The popularity of the yearlong historical drama “Gunshi Kanbei” on NHK TV has rapidly increased the number of visitors to Himeji Castle this year.
On March 27th 2015, the inside of the central tower will finally be re-opened to the public. I can’t wait for the cherry blossoms to start blooming at San no Maru Hiroba beneath the central tower.
An easy day-trip by bullet train from many areas, a bright white (for the moment) Egret Castle is waiting to overwhelm you…
Himeji Castle World Heritage National Treasure (Japanese) : http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/guide/castle.html
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo
Access: 5 min. north by bus from JR/Sanyō Himeji station, 25 min. on foot. Parking available
Closed: December 29, 30 (may change)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Reference: Science Channel – Art Transcending Time – Think scientifically about historic buildings (4) (Japanese) https://sc-smn.jst.go.jp/B075101/detail/B075101004.html
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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