Himeji Castle (aka Shirasagi-jō or Snowy Heron Castle)

Himeji Castle (Himeji-jō, aka Himeyama-jō) is the most visited of the "Three Most Famous Castles" (Himejo-jō, Kumamoto-jō, Matsumoto-jō). This castle with its fireproof white-plaster walls is also called Shirasagi-jō (White Heron or, more specifically, Snowy Heron Castle), recalling a flock of herons lifting off heavenward. The first Himeji Castle was built in 1333 on Himeyama (Princess Hill), then an addition in the late 1500s, finally the main donjon (castle keep) in the early 1600s, for a total of 38 buildings* and 21 gates (source: Himeji City castle brochure). *The UNESCO site says 83 buildings.

From "My Travelogue Manga of Japan (Sans Drawings)," by K. Avila, Sequential Tart, May 2006, 4 April 2006 entry: "I visit Himeji Castle. Along the street [Otemae-dori] from the train station to the castle, there are a number of statues of naked young women, though not all. Coming back from the castle down the other side, the last bronze statue I see is of a fat naked guy playing a saxophone."

UNESCO World Heritage site—Himeji-jo. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/661
Japanese Castles by Michio Fujioka (Osaka, Japan: Hoikusha Publishing, 1968)
brochure     brochure map
Himeji Castle brochure cover and castle layout,
Himeji City office, 1970s(?)

Re the red ink stamps, such stamps can be collected
at many tourist destinations in Japan.

Photos copyright © 2006 Kat Avila
train station entrance
train station entrance
statues by entrance
statues by entrance
statues by entrance
girl statue
girl statue shachihoko     shachihoko
The sign says: "The 'shachihoko' of the tenshu (main tower of the castle) or the roof
ornament on the ridges of the roof of the castle are [an] abstract representation of fish
in the sea. The ornament is a charm to guard against fire and ward off disaster.
These shachihoko are replicas of the ones on the castle."
hand statue
Ote Gate
Main Gate (Ōte-mon) is across
the street on the right side.
Himeji Castle Himeji Castle
A jogger combines exercise
and sightseeing.
Himeji Castle Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle Himeji Castle Himeji Castle
A father talks about the
castle to his family.
Ni Gate
inside Ni Gate
gate mon
This shows various mon
(family crests).
(close-up) Grandpa's crest
was a wood sorrel with
swordpoints, like two here.
from the side
He Gate
after He Gate
Himeji Castle
main donjon (castle keep)
Himeji Castle
main donjon (castle keep)
Himeji Castle hologram
holographic postcard,
Inside Himeji Castle
painting of carp
painting of carp
painting of carp
painting of carp
samurai armor
shooting holes
sama (holes for shooting)
(text in left photo):
"'Sama' means holes or small
windows for shooting guns
or arrows at enemy soldiers.
'Sama' with lids on them
which could be opened or shut
were called 'Kakushi-sama'
or hidden shooting holes."
view of city
view of city
from the castle
(close-up) shachihoko
(roof ornament charm
against fire and disaster)
altar     altar     offerings
top 6th floor altar

Philbert Ono of Photoguide.jp tells about how an altar sat on the hill before the castle did.
The altar was replaced after some unfortunate events occurred.
In the middle photo, there is a huge pale orb on the right side of the altar.
Some people believe orbs are indicative of ghosts; others, a cheap digital camera.
The sign says,
The stairs are steep,
the entryway is small, so
it's easy to bump your head.