Day 5: Himeji Castle and Osaka

There is only one way to describe Himeji Castle; if a building could troll, none could do it better than Himeji.

Consider the history as told to us by our guide, Ms Shoko:

  • Despite being built as a textbook classic defensive structure, Himeji was never attacked.
  • Despite its pure white exterior, it escaped the bombing that devastated Japan during World War 2.
  • It was put up for sale during the restoration era after the war, where the buyer wanted to strip it down for parts. Turns out, it was too expensive to do so.


So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the first thing we saw was this:
Himeji Castle covered by a 2D-printout

In case you were wondering, that’s the exterior of the main Himeji Castle, covered by a 2D printout. The main castle building is currently undergoing a scheduled 5 year maintenance effort; they are restoring the castle using the traditional methods and materials, as much as they can get it. The printout actually houses what they call the “Egret Eye View,” which gives you both an insight into the restoration works of the castle and a magnificent view of Himeji town.

You can still tour the castle grounds, by the way. You just won’t be able to see the main castle interior. This was fine by us, cause it meant we could still walk around. So we paid for our tickets and then requested an English guide; unlike most other places, Himeji’s English tour guides are volunteers. Ours was a lovely woman named Shouko Nakagawa, I think. >> I forgot to take her name down.

But in any case, have some photos of the castle interior (they’re quite fine with photography!):

The entrance gets narrower
Notice how the entrance gets narrower? Yes, it’s a classic defence tactic, forcing your enemies to come at you in single file instead of multiple.

Despite the darkness, it was quite bright
Despite the darkness, it was quite bright. Himeji was built for Senhime in the later years, and there was an equal emphasis on both beauty and functionality.

Don't Scribble Sign I assume this is for all those idiots who scribble on historical sites. -_-"

How the garden might have looked from the inside
A peek into the garden outside the keep’s walls.

Arrows ahoy!
Arrows ahoy!

Shuttlecocks
They kept the playing toys of Senhime pretty well.

Before Senhime and husband moved in, there was the Honda clan.
Before Senhime and husband moved in, there was the Honda clan.

Playing karuta. I really thought they were humans for a moment!
Playing karuta. I really thought they were humans for a moment! They limit the number of people into this room, to preserve it.

Do you see what I see?
Do you see what I see? :p

Huge waterspouts!
Huge waterspouts!

Spouts in action.
Spouts in action. Well, posing at least.

Okiku's well.
Okiku’s well, or so our guide tells us.

Himeji Town from Egret's eye
Himeji Town from Egret’s Eye.

Different crests and their history!
Different crests and their history!

Bye bye Himeji!
Bye bye Himeji!

Oppai
“Oppai” doesn’t just mean breasts in Japanese. It also refers to these door decorations. I kid you not.

Gardens! With barren trees! Buhii
Gardens! With barren trees! Buhii. :(

And then we saw this!
And then we saw this!

Akita puppies in a cloth trolley. Their faces seem to say,
Akita puppies in a cloth trolley. Their faces seem to say, “We’re cold…”

Three pups! One black, two brown.
Three pups! One black, two brown. So adorable!

And then we went to Osaka! Which meant…

Osaka Castle! It was very gloomy when we went there.
Osaka Castle! It was very gloomy when we went there.

One more photo of gloomy Osaka castle!
One more photo of gloomy Osaka castle!

I need to reupload my entire stash of Japan photos when I find them, because they all got half uploaded. :(