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:
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!):
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. Himeji was built for Senhime in the later years, and there was an equal emphasis on both beauty and functionality.