Himeji #8 – Himeji Castle (姫路城)

Himeji Castle is really a castle that doesn’t mess around. It was built in part to rival Osaka castle and keep Central and Western Japan under control:

Himeji Castle - Keep walls

In the Meiji Period (1868 to 1912) Himeji Castle was to be torn down under the government policy but it was saved by a Colonel Nakamura Shigeto of the Army:

Himeji Castle - Catsle keep

During WWII a bomb was dropped on the main tower, but miraculously, the bomb did not go off and the castle was not damaged:

Himeji Castle - Keep with tree

And it also features these guys:

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Himeji #4 – Kōkoen Garden (好古園)

The eight smaller gardens are surrounded by formal walls and linked by passages. This one has also been featured on several TV dramas:

Kokoen - passage

Every now and then you get a glimpse of the white walls of the main castle:

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Edo-style gardens (1603-1867) are characterized as ‘strolling’ gardens which featured ponds, islands and small hills with meandering paths. This was one of the smaller ponds:

Kokoen - small garden pond

Kokoen - smaller garden stream

The garden offered certain viewpoints which often featured ‘borrowed landscape’ such as the castle:

Kokoen - smaller garden castle view

Keeping an eye on us:

Kokoen - smaller garden crow

Cherry blossoms:

Kokoen - smaller garden cherry blossom

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Kokoen - cherry blossom

Himeji #1

On a short break we took the Shinkansen down to Himeji, in Hyogo just outside Osaka, to see the castle which had recently been cleaned and so was back to a bright white colour – hence its nickname “White Egret Castle”. The castle, a World Heritage site and the largest castle in Japan, dates back to a hill-fort built in 1333 and the castle seen today was built in 1601-1609. In 1871 it was bought at auction for 23 yen (about US$2,258 today)!

This is the castle seen along the main drag from the station:

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Sculpture along the street:

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The castle with the bridge across the moat and main gate:

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Selling ice-cream near the souvenir shops:

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