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Jeff Shepherd, 36, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, wrote:
I lived in Himeji from 1988-90 and visited Himeji-jo many times. Every time a guest came to town, we would have to go and see it. It is an amazing structure…so historical, and so beautifully maintained. I loved the legend of Okiku's well, and the grinding stone in the foundation was another really cool thing! When an old rerun of “Shogun” was on TV a few years back, it was great to see Himeji castle in the background shots!
Sandy, 30 from Toronto, Canada, wrote:
Himeji is breathtaking. I visited several times while I lived in Japan, and it never disappointed. So beautiful and so massive, with so much history. I enjoyed being able to wander around inside, with my guidebook in hand, looking back through history. Pretty remarkable strategic details, as well as some insight into the times of the people. It's well worth the visit, if you're in the area (and a good excuse to ride the Shinkansen if you're not!)
Ram Balakrishnan, age 26, from Ottawa, Canada. wrote:
Review: I visited this castle in the Fall of 96. I was staying in Nagoya and took a day trip to Himeji just to see the castle. Its more than worth the trip. The castle is marvelously preserved and looks magnificent from the outside. The defense mechanism of the castle, the legends surrounding the place are all well described in the tourist brochures. If you are ever close by, don't miss this place.
Tetsuji Kan, 48, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, wrote:
Himeji-jo (Castle) was originally built in 1346. Throughout its history it was owned by thirteen warrior families, not the least of which was Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi, the commoner who rose to become the de facto military dictator of Japan during the Sengoku-jidai (Civil War Era). Lord Hideyoshi reconstructed the castle as a three storied structure in 1581. In 1601, Ikeda Terumasa, son-in-law of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun who defeated the Hideyoshi family, transformed the castle into its present five tiered configuration with three smaller donjons. Unlike many European castles which had no real strategic defenses, Himeji-jo was built for warfare. One of the photos, above shows a window with what looks like vent underneath. That is an “ishiotoshi,” an opening through which stones or boiling water were dumped on enemy soldiers scaling the wall. The walls contain geometrically shaped “sama,” openings through which archers and gunners shot at attacking troops. Despite its utilitarian purpose, the castle is nevertheless one of the most beautiful in Japan. Most Japanese castles have nicknames, and Himeji's is “white heron” because from a distance it looks like an egret about to take flight.
I have visited Himeji-jo twice. It is in the area of Japan from which my maternal ancestors came, and I have a cousin who lives in that city. If a visitor to Japan has time only to visit one castle, it should be this one. In comparison with most other castles, this one has not been modernized with the addition of elevators. It is one of the few remaining castles which gives the visitor the feel of living in five hundred years ago in a warrior society.
Timo Annala, from Canada wrote:
I visited Himeji castle in the fall of 1997. I am always interested in ancient and mediaeval history so I was very excited to actually stand in areas where battles had been fought and conspiracies discovered, etc. The castle itself is much bigger than one could ever imagine from photographs or even from looking at it from outside. There was a story written (in both English and Japanese) on a plaque outside the main courtyard that detailed a famous desperate battle that took place just near the walls of the castle and the moat that encircles it. The details are lost to me now but I remember that it said this castle would most likely have been destroyed by the opposing forces if they would have won that battle. It was truly an amazing experience visiting Himeji and learning a little about ancient Japanese history.