This Sunday I traveled to Himeiji in Hyogo prefecture with two students to tour the Himeji Castle. It was quite spectacular and the weather was very cooperative. We also checked out the Nishi-Oyashiki-Ato Garden nearby. It was a fine day and the visitors were limited so we were able to quickly see the castle and the garden. The castle is one of the best examples of a feudal castle in Japan. With its white walls it is also called SHIRASAGI JO (White Heron Castle).
The history of Himeji Castle (Himeji Jo) is interesting. In 1333 Nomura Akamastu, the ruler of Harima district, built a fort, and in 1346 his son, Sadanori built premises in the same location. But some scholars say the original castle was built in the middle of the 16th century. when Shigetaka Kuroda and his son, Mototaka Kuroda ruled the district. However, after the Sekigahara civil war, Terumasa Ikeda, son-in-law of the Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa moved into the castle and started digging three moats around the building and completed the whole castle complex in 1609. A few things were added and the current structure as it is today was completed in 1618.
We also viewed the Himeji Koko-En garden that is just west of the castle. It was constructed in 1992 to commemorate the 100th anniversity of the founding of the Himeji municipality. It consists of 9 gardens and makes use of the former site of the Nishi-Oyashiki (Lord’s West Residence) and other samurai houses once located there. The name Koko-en comes from the name Koko-do which was the 6th provencial school founded in Himeji in 1692 by the last lord of Himeji, Lord Sakai. There is an elaborate tea house, several ponds and streams that flow through the gardens.
I think it is a “must see” for anyone who visits Himeji.
Al Bartle (SSE Okamoto)