Japan: images and observations
Himeji-jo (Himeji castle)

My family and I visited Japan in October 2017; these pages record my impressions, both photographically and verbally.

On these pages I have concentrated on what I found particularly interesting, surprising, or different in Japan to Australia, where I live.

There is too much to be placed on a single Internet page, so the material has been divided among several pages.

I have seen a few British castles; there are obvious differences between British (and European, or Western castles in general) and Japanese castles. I will not go into the differences in design, but one very obvious difference that I noticed is that, while British castles were generally ruins, Japanese castles had usually been lovingly restored. Admittedly, my experience of both British and Japanese castles involved only a very few examples of each.

This page started 2017/11/06, substantially completed 2017/12/27, edited 2021/03/06
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Wet day
We got off the Shinkansen (bullet train) on-rout between Nara and Hiroshima for a few hours to see the castle at Himeji.

Typhoon Lan was on its way; while there was not much wind the rain was steady all the time we were in Himeji.

From left to right: Shayne, Anna, Beth and Julia.

All my photos of Himeji-jo were taken on 2017/10/21.

The attractive wooden bridge in a gardened area on the way from Himeji city to the main tower of the castle. This bridge is the one shown at the lower centre of the artist's impression of the castle grounds shown below.

A part of the main tower is just visible to the right of the tree on the left. (I should have moved a little further to the right before taking this photo to include the castle; although then the tree on the right would have obscured the gate-building at the far end of the bridge. Perhaps a little closer and to the right to get castle, bridge and gate-building; but then I would have missed the tree on the right!)

This view takes in a large part of the Himeji-jo complex above the surrounding flat grounds.

Himeji seemed to be smaller than the Osaka castle complex with less formidable walls and moats. My impression was that Osaka-jo had the advantage of being on a larger and more easily fortified, hill.

An artist's rendering of the Hemeji-jo complex.

The bridge photographed above is the one at bottom centre of the painting. The rout from the bridge to the castle-proper was well marked, but a close look at the high resolution image will show that it is far from direct. Anyone attacking the castle would have many gates or walls to get past.

The painting shows how much more there is to a Japanese castle than the impression given by a photo of the main, central, building. There is even more to it than the impression a visitor gets.

There is an extensive article on Japanese castles on Wikipedia.

In addition to Himeji and Osaka, we also visited castles at Hiroshima and Kanazawa.

Another view of the castle, showing some of the stone walls and gardens.

A small part of the road to the castle. There were a number of gates and many walls along the way.

Another part of the road toward the castle.

The final gate before the entry into the castle building. Note the way small stones are jammed in between the big blocks in this particular wall.

I didn't look closely at the time, but the rock appears to be a type of volcanic rock formed from naturally cemented volcanic 'ash'; named tuffsite.

One of the galleries in the main castle building.

Julia and Shayne in the foreground.

A view over the castle grounds and part of Hemeji city from near the top of the castle.

A detailed model of Hemeji-jo and its surroundings as it might have been several centuries ago. This was near the top of the main castle building.