More climbing today. Up the Main Keep of Himeji Castle, to the very top. A wonderful but slightly claustrophobic experience due to the narrow, steep stairways, the ever reducing size of the floors, and vast number of tourists.
Although the Main Keep appears to have just five floors, it actually has a seven floor configuration made of six floors and one basement. Two massive wooden pillars, almost one metre across, hold up the whole structure.
Dating from 1609, Himeji Castle is the pre-eminent Japanese Castle, built to project feudal authority and power. In the 19th century it was earmarked for demolition, along with many other Japanese castles, before being reprieved. In World War II it survived the US air raids, that reduced the rest of the town to ashes. And today, after a six year restoration it’s gleaming white; well maybe not gleaming when we saw it on a dull and drizzly day.
Himeji Castle is known as the “White Heron Castle” because it is thought to resemble a white heron taking off. Some readers will recognise it from the James Bond film: You Only Live Twice.