JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.52

~Scenery of Japan~ Himeji Castle

Mount Fuji

Himeji Castle, the finest surviving example of Japan’s early 17th century architecture, is an old existing castle located in Himeji, Hyogo prefecture. It is also called Shirasagi-jo (white heron castle) because of its beautiful white plaster earthen walls.

The history of the castle dates back to 1346, when Sadanori Akamatsu built a fort. Later in the Edo period or Shogun era, larger castle architecture including the donjon and towers were constructed. Most of the construction survived to the present day with great aesthetic appeal.

In 1951, the castle towers were listed as a National Treasure of Japan, and in 1993, it was registered as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan as a masterpiece of construction.

Along with Matsumoto Castle (Nagano prefecture) and Kumamoto Castle (Kumamoto prefecture), Himeji Castle is regarded as one of Japan’s premier castles.

The castle is currently undergoing restoration work that is expected to be completed by 2015.

Only about 2km away from the castle is GSDF Camp Himeji. Personnel of the camp conduct the cleaning activity of the Himeji Castle in December of every year. By using ropes and vehicles, they clean up all over the castle, from unreachable high places, vast stone fences, to the extensive moat in a professional manner.

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