Himeji Castle: Largest Castle in Japan

Located in the Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji Castle is the largest and most popular castle in Japan. The castle also has a unique aspect, which is unlike many historical castles in the country, Himeji Castle has never been destroyed by any war or natural disaster. The castle’s history goes back to the late 14th century and early 15th century. These time periods were the most unstable times in Japan when civil wars were common and opposing shogunates were waging war on each other whenever they had the chance. Therefore, the castle was originally a fort to protect Harima Province against these shoguns.

himeji castle

The locals also call Himeji Castle some other names which are the White Egret Castle and the White Heron Castle. This is because of the castle’s full white exterior and its shape which resembles a bird taking flight.

himeji castle exterior

Aside from its historical significance, Himeji Castle also holds the distinct title of being one of the last 12 wooden castles in Japan. Consisting of 83 distinct buildings, Himeji is the largest castle in the country as well. The castle represents some of the most common defensive features of the Japanese architecture of its era. Firstly, the castle complex is surrounded by an extensive set of walls, 32 earthen walls to be exact. The tallest wall in the complex is nearly 30 meters tall.

himeji castle and the trees

Moreover, the way towards the castle is almost like a maze with similar patterns and shapes to confuse the invading forces. While the walls and the roads confuse the assaulting enemy, the castle was also ready for any siege. There are a lot of warehouses to store items like rice, salt, and water in order to supply the castle.

himeji castle complex inside

The castle has also been a place of local folklore and legends, certainly a place of rich history. One of these legends is Okiku’s Well which is still in the castle grounds today. According to the story, Okiku was a maid in the castle whom the people falsely accused of losing valuable family items. After killing Okiku and throwing her into a well, the castle inhabitants start to hear strange voices coming from the well. The story goes that Okiku’s ghost haunts the well to remind others of her unjust murder.

himeji castle interior
himeji castle rooms
himeji castle and the moon
the main structure in the complex
the complex walls
Franco Salazar
the complex and the garden
the walkway to the complex
view from the castle