Japanese Castle Explorer

by Daniel O'Grady

       
Strongholds of the Samurai: Japanese Castles 250-1877 Japanese Castles 1540-1640

Himeji Castle

Images: Daniel O'Grady

姫路藩

Himeji Domain


池田氏
1600 - 1617

Ikeda Clan

520,000 Koku

本多氏
1617 - 1639

Honda Clan

150,000 Koku

松平 (奥平)
1639 - 1648

Matsudaira (Okudaira)  Clan

180,000 Koku

松平 (越前)
1648 - 1649

Matsudaira (Etchizen) Clan

150,000 Koku

榊原氏
1649 - 1667

Sakakibara  Clan

150,000 Koku

松平 (越前)
1667 - 1682

Matsudaira (Etchizen) Clan

150,000 Koku

本多氏
1682 - 1704

Honda Clan

150,000 Koku

榊原氏
1704 - 1741

Sakakibara  Clan

150,000 Koku

松平 (越前)
1741 - 1749

Matsudaira (Etchizen) Clan

150,000 Koku

酒井氏
1749 - 1871

Sakai Clan

150,000 Koku

姫路城
Himeji Castle is classified as a hilltop castle (its layout: Kakakushiki), and is located in Hyōgo Prefecture. During the pre-modern age, it found itself within the borders of Harima Province. It is associated with the Ikeda, Honda, Sakai clans. Dates in use: 1346 - 1871.

This is Japan's most impressive, original & complete castle. Himeji Castle features over 80 structures that are recognised as either National Treasures or Important Cultural Properties. Another highlight is the complicated, maze-like path to the main tower. If any enemies had managed to enter the castle, they would have found themselves under constant fire through every confusing twist & turn.

Current renovation

Since November 2009, the Karamete Gate has been closed. From April 2010 to March 2014, visitors will be unable to enter the main tower however, according to the official website, it appears limited access will be permitted depending on the work being carried out. In addition, external observation platforms will be set-up that will allow visitors to watch the restoration process.

Timeline

1346 Fortifications were established by Akamatsu Sadanori.
1545 The Kuroda clan, by order of the Kodera clan, were stationed here.
1561 Rebuilding of the castle was completed.
1580 Kuroda Yoshitaka presented the castle to Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
1581 Toyotomi Hideyoshi expanded the existing fortifications & completed it with a three-story main tower.
1600 The Ikeda clan were transferred here. Ikeda Terumasa began rebuilding the castle's defences.
1608 The five-story main tower was completed.
1618 The Nishino Enclosure was completed.
1639 The Honda clan were stationed here.
1871 The castle was abandoned.
1882 The buildings of the Bizen-maru (the adjacent enclosure on the southern side of the main tower) burnt down due to an accidental fire.
1910 A major restoration started.
1956 Another major restoration started.
1993 Himeji castle achieved World Heritage Site status.
2009 Yet another major restoration started.
2014 When the current restoration is planned to be completed.

Historical recognition

SiteUNESCO World Heritage Listed
SiteSpecial National Historic Site
  
Main TowerNational Treasure
Eastern Lesser Main TowerNational Treasure
Western Lesser Main TowerNational Treasure
Inui Lesser Main TowerNational Treasure
I, Ro, Ha & Ni Watari TurretsNational Treasures
  
Watari Turrets (x11)Important Cultural Property
Turrets (x16)Important Cultural Properties
Gates (x15)Important Cultural Properties
Walls (x32)Important Cultural Properties