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Matthew Haswell | profile | all galleries >> Japan 日本 >> Kansai 関西 >> Himeji and Akashi 姫路と明石 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Kyōto 京都 | Uji 宇治 | Nara 奈良 | Ōsaka 大阪 | Wakayama 和歌山 | Kōbe 神戸 | Himeji and Akashi 姫路と明石 | Kinosaki and Fukuchiyama 城崎と福知山 | Amanohashidate 天橋立 | Ōtsu 大津 | Ōmi Hachiman and Azuchi 近江八幡と安土 | Hikone 彦根 | Nagahama 長浜 | Iga, Seki-juku & Kameyama 伊賀、関宿、亀山 | Ise 伊勢

Himeji and Akashi 姫路と明石

The second-largest city in Hyōgo Prefecture after Kōbe, Himeji is famous both across Japan and internationally for its UNESCO-listed feudal castle. The city's roots as a military site date from the 14th century, but its spectacular Himeji-jō is in fact the product of an early 17th-century restructuring of a prior fortress by Tokugawa Ieyasu's ally Ikeda Terumasa.

The nearby city of Akashi is now a rather non-descript industrial center, but in the Edo period it held prominence as an important castle town and the center of the Akashi Domain (created after Himeji's Ikeda Mitsumasa was transferred to Tottori and his holdings were split in two). Much of the city's castle was torn down following the Meiji Restoration (save for two towers) but the city regained economic importance as the site of the Akashi Kaikyō Ōhashi - presently the world's longest suspension bridge.

The first three pictures here date from a visit in August 2004. The rest come from a return visit in early October 2008.
View from Ninomaru
View from Ninomaru
Looking west from the top
Looking west from the top
Donjon from the courtyard
Donjon from the courtyard
View down Ōtemae-dōri to the castle
View down Ōtemae-dōri to the castle
Castle view from Ōtemon-mae
Castle view from Ōtemon-mae
Bridge leading to the Ōte-mon
Bridge leading to the Ōte-mon
Donjon and surrounds with lunching schoolkids
Donjon and surrounds with lunching schoolkids
Donjon and Hon-maru fortifications
Donjon and Hon-maru fortifications
Tenshu and surrounds from the
Tenshu and surrounds from the
Approach to the Hishi-no-mon
Approach to the Hishi-no-mon
Hishi-no-mon detail
Hishi-no-mon detail
View of the castle from just beyond the Hishi-no-mon
View of the castle from just beyond the Hishi-no-mon
Map of the castle grounds
Map of the castle grounds
Donjon viewed from the Nishi-no-maru
Donjon viewed from the Nishi-no-maru
Corridor (Nagatsubone) flanking the Nishi-no-maru
Corridor (Nagatsubone) flanking the Nishi-no-maru
Tenshu and Ha-no-mon
Tenshu and Ha-no-mon
Steps up to the Ni-no-maru
Steps up to the Ni-no-maru
Shooting holes near the Ha-no-mon
Shooting holes near the Ha-no-mon
Cross emblem above an eave of the Ni-no-mon
Cross emblem above an eave of the Ni-no-mon
Ni-no-maru view of the donjon
Ni-no-maru view of the donjon
Path up to the Ni-no-mon
Path up to the Ni-no-mon
Row of tiles along a wall
Row of tiles along a wall
West flank of the donjon
West flank of the donjon
Row of tiles above the Mizuichi-mon
Row of tiles above the Mizuichi-mon
Assorted crest tiles of Himeji-jō
Assorted crest tiles of Himeji-jō
Lesser courtyard past the He-no-mon
Lesser courtyard past the He-no-mon
Daitenshu and Nishi-kotenshu from the Hon-maru
Daitenshu and Nishi-kotenshu from the Hon-maru
Inui-kotenshu from within the donjon
Inui-kotenshu from within the donjon
Himeji's northern suburbs from atop the donjon
Himeji's northern suburbs from atop the donjon
Osakabe-jinja on the top floor of the donjon
Osakabe-jinja on the top floor of the donjon
View down on the Nishi-no-maru
View down on the Nishi-no-maru
Looking across the Sanno-maru towards the station
Looking across the Sanno-maru towards the station
Ornamental shachi above the donjon's roof tiles
Ornamental shachi above the donjon's roof tiles
Inui-kotenshu and Ni-no-mon with city sprawl
Inui-kotenshu and Ni-no-mon with city sprawl
Himeji-jinja and Himeji City Museum of Art
Himeji-jinja and Himeji City Museum of Art
Slope down into the Harakiri-maru
Slope down into the Harakiri-maru
Inner moat and Ino-mon
Inner moat and Ino-mon
Gate within Kōko-en
Gate within Kōko-en
Line of plastered walls, Kōko-en
Line of plastered walls, Kōko-en
Pond and stone bridge in Oyashiki-no-niwa
Pond and stone bridge in Oyashiki-no-niwa
Small waterfall and pond in Oyashiki-no-niwa
Small waterfall and pond in Oyashiki-no-niwa
Stone lantern at the pond's edge
Stone lantern at the pond's edge
Pondside path, Oyashiki-no-niwa (Kōko-en)
Pondside path, Oyashiki-no-niwa (Kōko-en)
Path of stones in Oyashiki-no-niwa
Path of stones in Oyashiki-no-niwa
Entrance to the Cha-no-niwa
Entrance to the Cha-no-niwa
Gently minimalistic grounds of the Cha-no-niwa
Gently minimalistic grounds of the Cha-no-niwa
Pond and reeds in the Flat Landscape Garden
Pond and reeds in the Flat Landscape Garden
Glimpse of the castle from the garden
Glimpse of the castle from the garden
Shaded corner of Kōko-en
Shaded corner of Kōko-en
Nagaya-mon and Himeji-jō beyond
Nagaya-mon and Himeji-jō beyond
Nishi-no-maru tower from the Nagare-no-hireniwa
Nishi-no-maru tower from the Nagare-no-hireniwa
Pond in Nagare-no-hireniwa
Pond in Nagare-no-hireniwa
Gate at the edge of garden with castle tower
Gate at the edge of garden with castle tower
Pavilion and pond at the Nagare-no-hireniwa
Pavilion and pond at the Nagare-no-hireniwa
Arriving at the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge
Arriving at the Akashi Kaikyō Bridge
Seafront promenade beside the bridge
Seafront promenade beside the bridge
Akashi Kaikyō Ōhashi and distant Awaji-shima
Akashi Kaikyō Ōhashi and distant Awaji-shima
Historic Ijōkaku and the bridge
Historic Ijōkaku and the bridge
Field-tripping youth beside the hall and bridge
Field-tripping youth beside the hall and bridge
Panorama of the bridge and Awaji-shima
Panorama of the bridge and Awaji-shima
Tourist hotels just off the seafront
Tourist hotels just off the seafront
View of Akashi further down the coast
View of Akashi further down the coast
Entering Akashi-kōen
Entering Akashi-kōen
View across the park to Akashi-jō's remnant tower
View across the park to Akashi-jō's remnant tower
Original Tatsumi-yagura towering over the park
Original Tatsumi-yagura towering over the park
Hitsujisaru-yagura
Hitsujisaru-yagura
Tatsumi-yagura
Tatsumi-yagura
Sundial with distant Hitsujisaru-yagura
Sundial with distant Hitsujisaru-yagura
Below the outer walls of the old Ni-no-maru
Below the outer walls of the old Ni-no-maru
Manhole in the former castle grounds
Manhole in the former castle grounds
View out to the distant Akashi Kaikyō Bridge
View out to the distant Akashi Kaikyō Bridge
Stretch of wall leading to the Hitsujisaru-yagura
Stretch of wall leading to the Hitsujisaru-yagura
Hitsujisaru-yagura and protective fence
Hitsujisaru-yagura and protective fence
Hitsujisaru-yagura and stone foundations
Hitsujisaru-yagura and stone foundations
Sporting grounds off the castle park
Sporting grounds off the castle park
Edge of the tenshu-dai
Edge of the tenshu-dai
Modern Akashi with the Seto Inland Sea behind
Modern Akashi with the Seto Inland Sea behind
Steps up to the tenshu-dai and inner grounds
Steps up to the tenshu-dai and inner grounds
Below the Hitsujisaru-yagura
Below the Hitsujisaru-yagura
Parting view of the castle and park
Parting view of the castle and park