Himeji Castle (姫路城) is the only castle we visited in Japan is a “real” castle, ie. it is the original castle (with some restoration work) and not a reconstruction.
Himeji Castle is located at Himeji on the Hoyo Prefecture. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 rooms with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period. The castle is frequently known as Hakuro-jō or Shirasagi-jō (“White Egret Castle” or “White Heron Castle”) because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.
Originally constructed in 1333, it has undergone significant remodelling over the years and has remained intact despite various natural disasters (eg. earthquakes) and World War II. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was significantly restored in 2015. We visited in 2018 and saw it in it’s fully restored glory.
The castle has been featured extensively many films, including the James Bond movie “You Only Live Twice”, Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha (and Ran (1985), and in the television miniseries adaptation of James Clavell’s Shogun.
The castle also features many defensive elements, some of which have survived intact. There were three moats (the outer moat is now buried), an intricate maze of paths and walkways, and a series of gates (originally 84, of which 21 survive) some of which are named after the Japaneses syllabary (いろは).
The main keep is six storeys and mainly constructed of wood. The top floor gives an uninterrupted panoramic view over the surrounding area.
Shibuya is a major commercial and retail hub, but also famous for 3 things: Shibuya crossing (the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing), Hachiko the loyal dog, and Shibuya 109 (a fashion mecca for young girls).
Kamakura is a small town popular with tourists because of attractions such as the Hasedera temple located on a hill with great views of the town, the Great Buddha bronze statue and other temples and shrines.
We discovered the Sasuke Inari Shrine by accident while walking around in Kamakura. A set of bright red torii gates lead up a hill into a shrine full of statues of foxes and fox dwellings with families.
Huis Ten Bosch is a gigantic theme park in Sasebo (near Nagasaki) that is intended to be a mini version of Netherlands, including famous buildings such as the Huis Ten Bosch palace, Stadhuis and the Domtoren.
Kurashiki has a preserved canal area that dates back to the Edo Period, when the city served as an important rice distribution center. In fact, “Kurashiki” roughly translates to “town of storehouses” in reference to the rice storehouses.
Chris Tham is a co-founder of Visual Voyager Pty Ltd, the Principal Voigtländer Ambassador for Mainline Photographics and a Workshop Instructor for Mainline Photo Academy.
She brings over 35 years of experience as a photographer to her role, starting with a Yashica rangefinder belonging to her dad, joining the Photography Club in school, and developing her own photos.
More recently, Chris has been taking photos during her travels, and as a result has experienced some of the most interesting places in the world.
Chris focuses on nature, street, and urban architecture subjects in her photography.