Himeji Castle – World Cultural Heritage in Japan

Himeji Castle in Himeji City is located on a mountain mound called Himeyama, is 45.6 m above sea level and stands out from the surrounding Harima Plain, along the strategic route to the fortress. Kyoto capital.

English name: Himeji-jo
Location: Hyogo Prefecture
Year of recognition: 1993
Criteria: (i)(iv)
Acreage: 107 ha with 143 ha buffer zone

Himeji Castle History

The castle was built in 1346 at the beginning of the Shogunate period, by the martial general Akamatsu Sadanori. Construction on the site of an old castle dating from 1333.

Himeji Castle was completed, restored and built in 1561; 1581; 1601-1609; 1617-1618.

The castle operated continuously as the center of local power for nearly three centuries, until 1868, when the shogunate collapsed and the Meiji Emperor regime began.

During the Meiji period, many shogunate castles were destroyed. Himeji Castle is abandoned. In 1871, the castle was auctioned off. The buyer (for 23 Japanese yen, about 200,000 yen or US$2,258 in today’s dollars) wanted to demolish the castle to get land for other purposes, but because the demolition cost was too great, he kept it.

For more than 400 years of existence, Himeji Castle has fortunately remained intact, even during World War II bombings and the great Kobe earthquake in 1995.

The reconstruction work began in 1956 at a cost of 250,000 man-days and 550 million yen.

Himeji Castle is one of the oldest surviving structures in Japan and is typical of Japan’s modern citadels. Himeji Castle, together with Matsumoto Castle (in Nagano Prefecture) and Kumamoto Castle (in Kumamoto Prefecture), form the “Three Precious Citadels of the Nation/Three Great Kingdoms”. Among them, Himeji Castle is the most famous.

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Himeji Castle covers an area of ​​107 hectares, including 82 buildings surrounded by advanced defense systems (Feudal period). The building becomes a typical architectural landmark, visible from any point in the city of Himeji.

Various parts of Himeji Castle have been designated as national treasures of Japan.

Himeji Castle is one of the largest castles in Japan, the finest surviving example of early 16th and 17th century Japanese castle architecture.

Himeji Castle Architecture

In the direction from East to West, the citadel has a length of 950-1600m; from North to South is 900-1700m long with a circumference of about 4200m, an area of ​​up to 200ha.

The citadel is divided into 3 layers, separated by a system of moats. The two outermost layers are residential areas, the innermost or central areas are temples, shrines, and palaces. The distance between the three trenches is wide in the North, South and East directions, narrow and almost conjoined in the West.

Himeji Castle - World Cultural Heritage in Japan

Map of the castle – Himeji castle

Video of Himeji Castle

UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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