The White Heron Castle
On this second day trip from our base Kyoto, we visit another masterpiece of the truly old and once Imperial Japan, the ancient city of Himeji. This will be the last of the historical cities in trip trip, right after Nara and Horyu-ji we visited the day before, leaving for the last days another 2 of the modern and big cities: Osaka and Hiroshima, a last chance with deer in Itsukushima and returning to Tokyo for one more night and day to keep enjoying our time over there before the flights back to London. I must agree that after so many cities, we had enough of shrines and temples. Coming to this point it’s difficult to even distinguish any difference between them, or the ones in Nikko, Nara, Kyoto or who knows; however we did also know how important all the cities were and how valuable is the architecture, and after all, this is one of the major reasons why to come to Japan on a tour since not everything in the country is resumed just to it’s modern capital Tokyo and the major former imperial capital, Kyoto.
Himeji has a different sight other than shrines and temples. This is the most important and renown castle, the finest example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture. While the city badly suffered the raids from WWII and earlier, the 1923 Kanto earthquake, its castle miraculously remained standing still almost intact, therefore that this is the only of its kind, untouched for 400 years after its construction. However its history goes back to 1333 when a small fort was built on the hill, dismantled not long after to be rebuilt as the first permanent castle. Remodelled 2 centuries later, and few more times afterwards to become from 1618 what you mostly see today.
It is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and has been listed an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The good news are the proximity to Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto on the east, and Hiroshima on the west, lying along the main Tokaido Shinkansen bullet railway line and as such, making it extremely easy and straightforward for accessing and visiting. As second place, this can easily be a half day trip since there is not much more to see in the city; this could possibly mean it’s your chance to spend the other half of the day for Horyu-ji if you could not manage when visiting Nara, or otherwise spending more time in Osaka or Kyoto, or wherever is from where you came from. The better you organise yourself beforehand, the more time you will have for doing anything extra or simply enjoying longer the places you like. (more…)