Oct 20, 2009

Shiro (Japanese castles)

There are only 12 remaining original castles in Japan that are still standing since the 16th or the 17th century. The rest of the castles in Japan were rebuilt after being destroyed in World War II. Osaka castle and Nagoya castles are the most famous of the rebuilt castles. There many rebuilt castles and abandoned castles all over Japan. No fewer than 36 of the capital cities of Japan’s 47 prefectures were originally castle towns. In front of Tokyo station is the ruins of Edo castle. Edo castle was the biggest castle in Japan and was owned by the Tokugawa family. Now the area is owned by the Japanese royal family and they have been living in that area since Edo period ended.

Japanese castles were not only homes for warlords and nobles, but they also served as an impregnable fortress. Japanese castles have massive walls of stone, moats, several layers of gates and many other devices for protecting from enemies. I will present these using Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture as an example.

Himeji Castle is the biggest castle of the 12 of well-preserved original castles and it was finished in 1618. The castle is called Shirasagi-jo (white egret), because of its elegant white plastered walls and grouting. The white plastered walls and castle stone walls have been well maintained in their original forms. The building and the area has been designated by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO as one of the world heritages in Japan.

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