I made my first trip of 2009 to Himeji Castle, one of the UNESCO world cultural heritage sites in Japan, and this place was amazing. I have a pamphlet from the tour today, so I will mix in some history with my own thoughts.
This was a day trip, Himeji is about a hour and a half shinkansen ride from Nagoya and passes through Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe on the way their. Here is the station sign a few seconds after I exited the train, I left Nagoya at 11:11am.
I did not really know this place existed, but yesterday a co-worker of mine was telling me he was going to visit his family in Himeji and told me about the castle and that it was really interesting. The forecast was for good weather, so I woke up today and went. Below is me in front of Himeji castle.Summary of the history and grammar from the pamphlet: In 1333 Akamatsu, the ruler of Harima District, built a fort, and in 1346 his son, Sadanori built premises, Later the Kotera and Kuroda clans ruled this area. (Later some scholars say the original castle was built in the middle of the 16th century when Kuroda and his son ruled the district, I think I agree with these scholars). Some more things happen, then the wonderful magnificent castle you enjoy today entirely finished in 1618. After the Honda family there were another lords and finally the Sakai came as the lord in 1749. His descendant met with the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when the Shogunite system disappeared.Their is a 600 yen ($6) cover to tour the castle. As you enter the main gate, you start walking up these stairs towards the main tower. The path is really cool, you keep ducking under floors and some of the stairs was carved into the mountain.When you enter the castle, the first thing you have to do is take off your shoes and put on slippers. Upon seeing this, "crap," quickly popped into my head because I was sure they would have nothing near my shoe size and I would have to walk around with my back of my foot falling off the rear of the slipper all day.But, nope, they had 'big size,' I was okay.This is inside the castle, each floor had a different function. I think this was floor one which was for food storage.One thing this castle is not is ADA accessible, between each floor are steep stair cases and not to deep planks. This actually was kind of funny, between every floor, everyone was losing their slippers as they would climb the stairs and have to stop and stop everyone behind them put their shoes back on. It was kind of a mess.This is the 5th floor, counting from the outside you see 5 floors but their is actually 6 floors. This is also explained in the pamphlet, translated into English as follows, word for word: From the outside this main tower appears to have five stories. Somehow there are six stories and one basement inside. The tower has two main pillars whose diameters are nearly one meter. The base of the east one was replaced with new stuff, and the west one was swapped with new one in the Showa Restoration (1956-1964).View from the 6th floor, the castle grounds.On the 6th floor their is a small shrine. Here you can see a girl praying with shoes in bag, she just finished putting some coins in that box and ringing the bell.View from the 6th floor, the castle grounds. It started to snow...Looking down on the courtyard from the 6th fl, this is just outside the castle.More people on the 6th floor.As you leave the castle, they remind you to put your shoes back on.
A mote at the base of the castle.Me again, standing in the main courtyard outside the castle.