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Himeji Castle reopens after 5 1/2 years of repair work

28 Comments

Himeji Castle, a world heritage site and national treasure, reopens to the public on Friday after 5 1/2 years of repair work.

Located in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, the 400-year-old castle was registered as a world heritage site in 1993 along with Horyuji for the first time in Japan. The graceful white building is compared to a white heron and it is also called “white heron castle.”

The 2.4-billion yen renovation, which began in October 2009, was partially paid for by donations from 3,000 citizens. New roof tiles have been installed, and the white walls have been repainted.

The castle is reopening in time for cherry blossom season. About 1,000 cherry trees are in the castle grounds.

James Bond fans will remember the castle grounds as a ninja training headquarters in the 1967 film "You Only Live Twice."

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28 Comments
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Go there or nearby sometimes - even so, this is great news and I look forward to my next visit.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good luck this weekend. Yesterday Blue Impluse flew over Himeji Castle. The city was busy for the next 6 hours afterwards.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

beautiful castle with a fascinating history. If you live in Kansai, you've probably been invited to see this place almost as often as you've been invited to Kyoto.

Just avoid the zoo on the castle grounds, it is incredibly horrible even by Japanese standards.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Looking forward to it but I wonder how much of the original is actually left? The Japanese aren't exactly known for their historic preservation work. I hope it won't be a modern museum and giftshop which has been made to meet all the 21st century building regulations.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

So why is the roof white? Went to visit it several years ago, and it's a fine castle indeed.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I was there for the restoration. They used traditional methods and materials. No plastic.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Ah! Now I see why people complained its too white. Why on earth did they paint the roof white?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Can anyone tell me how long it would take to have a thorough look at every part of the Castle?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Reza

Good luck this weekend.

Yeah, saw the crowds on TV. Looked like a good show but I'll wait until things clam down.

@M3M3M3

The Japanese aren't exactly known for their historic preservation work.

They are as a matter of fact. Maybe not uniformly but better than most.

@seadog538

Can anyone tell me how long it would take to have a thorough look at every part of the Castle?

Minimum of half a day, depending how much you want to absorb.

My guess the roof is white to allow for the grime?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

why the roof is white? it has been constructed like that.. thats why its also nicknamed white castle.. others also were white originaly but through corrosion eg they become grey over time.. thats why its recommended to go there the first months after the reopening.. after that it will get gradually dark again

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I suppose to look like a White Heron on wing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Japanese aren't exactly known for their historic preservation work.

Ancient Japan enacted a law called Yoryou Ritsuryou in the year 757 in which they ruled precise way of historical document preservation. Which country has better and longer historical presevation work than Japan?

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Himeiji Castle is magnificent and probably the best preserved Medieval castle in all of Japan. It is a classic example of Japanese architecture incorporating strategic design as well as conscious awareness of space. Basically the craftsmen under the Teruma's reign transformed the basic elements of nature into a refined and elegant structure. So it stands as a monument to the Japanese concept of harmony between man and nature. It's definitely a must see. The grounds are beautiful and the castle is stunning once you get to see it close.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Visited Himeji castle several years ago, before the restoration work. Been to more than 20 castles around the country, and this is one of the best. I usually spend at least an hour on the top floor of any castle I visit just to say that I've been there. As for an estimated amount of time needed to see this castle, I'd say about one hour inside the structure itself. It's about a 15-20 minute walk from the railroad station, then you have to cross the castle grounds before arriving at the main building. Be sure to see it ... it's worth the trip from wherever you are in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Expect Himeji to be packed for a while. Thousands of people went to castle today. From Tuesday it is going to rain, which might thin out thr crowds.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember when the planned repair work started and made big news as people rushed to visit before the scaffolding and nets went up. That 5.5 years seemed pretty quick! I watched the news and of course while it can't be said the castle is in its original condition, did it ever look stunning with the new paint job and roofing! I would LOVE to go visit again during cherry blossom season, but as I can only imagine with this news and the media playing it up it will be worse than normal for crowds, I think I'll wait until things calm down some. Definitely on my short-list of things to do, though.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

why the roof is white?

I also saw a TV program explaining a reason. The roof of the top catches the strong wind. Therefore the white plaster is used to fix a tile. Seeing from the side, a tile hides and sees only the snow-white plaster. As Nakajima wrote, plaster will get gradually dark again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When I saw the castle before the restoration, I don't remember the whole structure being this white. Have they painted things white that were once other colors?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Went to see there the opening event for two days, on the 25th and 26th, taken tons of pix. the castle was so beautiful and Blue Impulse ware marvellous.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

White roofes, ShiroYane Kawara...... probably spray painted just like constuction cos. specialized on spray painting walls.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Can anyone tell me how long it would take to have a thorough look at every part of the Castle?

I think the tour took an hour or so. But after a while, one vast empty room of tatami mats begins to merge into another. However, definitely worth doing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was there for the restoration. They did not use spray paint. If they had used spray paint and other shortcuts this work would not have taken five and a half years. There was an observation tower build next to the keep. You could see the work at each level.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think guides will give you a bag for your shoes but it is best you bring your brief case Try to open closet to take picture of upper class samrai clothes. Just get permission of guide if you can take picture inside of oshiire.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Visited the castle few years ago while still under restoration. It was maginificent then and would love to visit again. The Samurai armor museum on the grounds are beautiful as well. Also if you like old temple, Shoshazan temple, the one where they filmed the movie "The Last Samurai" is accessible from Himeji station so might be a good chance to visit it as well. We rode a bus from the station and then hiking up to the temples.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So it stands as a monument to the Japanese concept of harmony between man and nature.

Hardly, castles are MILITARY structures & I remember visiting back around 1989 & all the ways invented to fend off invaders was quite interesting & likely DEADLY for those attempting to TAKE the castle.

Lets remember all these castles in Japan aren't for tourism they are a legacy of all the wars fought inside Japan amongst themselves of which there were lots & over long time periods, just saying!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This castle is epic by all means and is this how the castle originally looked? Because it certainly is amazing!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The top floor of castle was MonomiYaggura. KoshoYaku samurais stay there to watch 4 directions of enemy force movements. On the ground, there were lakes. When carps make noise, Ozenbuyaku samurais reported enemies sneaked in. /////there were lanterns (/touRou). standng on the ground. After Tokugawa earned hegemony, he changed territory of each lords and punished lords were prohibited to create new castles.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Majestic! Would love to visit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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