Saturday, January 22, 2005

A Big White Heron - Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle is located in Himeji of the Hyogo Prefecture. Along with Nagoya Castle and Kumamoto Castle, it is one of Japan's 'Three Famous Castles'. It is occasionally known as Shirasagi-jou (literally means White Heron Castle) because of its brilliant white exterior.

While European castles were built of stone, Japanese castles were predominantly wooden structures. A total of 360 tons of wood and 75,000 tiles weighing 3,000 tons were used in the construction of Himeji Castle.

Once you reach the main donjon you'll see a 31.5 m tall, five-story structure from the outside, but inside, there are six stories plus a basement.

Himeji Castle is famous for not only this huge main tower but also the highly effective and complicated defensive design, which is just like a maze.

However, Himeji Castle in its present form has never entered into war. In a sense, the White Heron Castle is - and may it continue to be - a symbol of peace.

Himeji was bombed in 1945, at the end of World War II. Although a nearby middle school was burned completely to the ground, the castle survived almost entirely unscathed, except for a few stray impacts from nearby.

"No one would be foolish enough to choose war over peace--in peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons." -- Georg Lichtenberg

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