Himeji Castle is the best example of a Japanese castle as it has never been destroyed or even damaged in war. Himeji Castle was completed in 1609, but a fort existed on the site as early as 1333. In 1992 Himeji Castle was recognised by UNESCO as a building of world significance and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its own listing. The (tower or keep) of Himeji Castle is an excellent example of the traditional wooden architecture and its stone walls with their white plastered walls.
Himeji Castle History
In 1333 Norimura Akamatsu, the ruler of Harima District, built a fort where the Himeji Castle now stands. In 1346 his son, Sadanori further expanded the fort.
In the 16th century the fort was removed and a three story castle was built in its place by Hideyoshi Hasiba. This is the basic structure that is seen today. In 1601 Terumasa Ikeda started digging three moats around the castle building and completed the whole castle complex as it is in 1609. The outer moat is just north of where J.R. Himeji train station is today. After the Ikedas, Tadamasa Honda added some buildings in West Bailey.
Main Tower with the smaller towers and corridors connecting these towers have been registered as national treasures. The Cosmetic Tower, 27 ‘yagura’, 15 gates, and 1,000 meter long earthen walls have been registered as important cultural treasures. A part of the middle moat, and the whole inner moat retained as they were In the feudal times. The area inside the middle moat has been registered as a special historical site.
It is difficult in the pictures to really project how steep and imposing the structure is.
In the foreground of the picture above you can see the shape and angle of the “fan curve” at the base of the wall. This shape provides significantly greater strength and stability to the base of the walls. This shape is effectively half an inverted arch.
Here already within the Himeji Castle structure is another moat to provide a further level of protection. Beyond the moat is another wall and then many more levels to reach the donjon (main castle tower). It really is layer upon layer of defenses.