Japan’s new wings
The famous Himeji-jo Castle finally reopens
One of Japan’s most famous and well-preserved castles reopened in March following a more than five-year renovation. Guests can now take in the architecture of Himeji-jo Castle, which dates from the beginning of the Edo Period (1603-1868), sans scaffolding (the building’s exterior was repainted). The castle became Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It consists of 74 structures, including a kitchen in the inner court in case the castle fell under siege and an attempt was made to starve its occupants. Among its many gates are mechanisms for dropping stones on intruders and, of course, there are holes in the walls for firing guns. But the castle is elegant, too. Its white plaster walls are evocative of an egret (shirasagi) with its wings spread, which gives the castle its nickname, Shirasagi-jo. At night, the entire castle is lit up so a visit after sunset is recommended. himeji-kanko.jp.
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