Monday, June 9, 2008

Himeji Castle (photo-essay)


In a blog entry yesterday, I intimated that
Himeji Castle -- which I visited together with the nearby Koko-en Garden, and the Shoshazan Engyoji (Engyoji Temple on Mount Shosha) on a day trip from Osaka -- really brought out the shutter bug in me. After seeing the following photos of the magnificent 17th century edifice also known as Shirasagijo (White Heron Castle) because its brilliant white exterior resembles a white heron in flight, I hope that you'll understand why it did:-

No doubt about it -- the seven storey
main castle keep (Daitenshu) dominates
the landscape of Himeji -- castle but also town

At the same time, it seems to play peek-a-boo
with the visitor making his or her way
along a suggested tour of Himeji-jo's expansive grounds

But all gets revealed as you get into the central area

And yes, visitors are allowed into the main castle keep
-- albeit only if they deign to remove their shoes
(in order to help preserve its original wooden floors)

Also, to get views like this,
one has to climb many flights of stairs as
there are no concessions to modernity like lifts
in this UNESCO World Heritage Listed-site

The Osakabe Shrine on the Daitenshu's top floor

Lest it be thought that only the Daitenshu
has aesthetic charm

Truly, the artistry apparent in so much of
Himeji Castle's architecture

really
can take one's breath away

4 comments:

alejna said...

Beautiful! What an impressive building, and stunning views.

It's not too surpising that you must remove shoes. It's cool that the wooden floors are still the originals. Did they have special slippers?

Have you been to Nijo-jo, in Kyoto? I went there on my (only) trip to Japan, which was in 2004. That castle was smaller, but still quite beautiful. And it had remarkable floors that were actually designed to squeak when you walk on them, in order that no-one could sneak around to plot and evesdrop. The squeak was a pleasant chirping, and the floors are called "nightingale floors."

YTSL said...

Hi Alejna --

Thanks for the appreciation. And yes, one had to wear special slippers. Either that or go barefoot/in one's own socks.

Don't think I've been to Nijo-jo. My one visit to Kyoto went by in a whirl due to my going with a tour group some years back. (Never again -- going with a tour group, I mean.) OTOH, one'd think I'd remember the nightingale floors -- thanks for sharing that story, BTW! :)

sbk said...

ytsl

Very enjoyable photo essay. Wonderful door at the end of the small walkway in the next to last picture. Did you walk on the textured narrow walkway?

One advantage at Osaka Castle is the elevator (+) but it's a modern recreation (-). But we didn't use the elevator as we arrived after the castle closed.

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

Glad you enjoyed the photo essay. BTW, I didn't walk on what you called a "textured narrow walkway" as I figured that it was an old style drain... ;b