As the structure of Himeji Castle is made of wood, it requires periodic repair and restoration. The first major restoration in the castle’s history took place in the Shōwa Era, beginning in 1956, and took almost eight years to complete.
The first major step was to erect a suyane (roofed scaffold sculpture) over the Main Keep, which was completed in 1957. The Main Keep was dismantled and reassembled after the necessary repairs had been completed. The many inscription discovered in the process provided insight into how it was constructed.
The small keep, connecting the gallery and kitchen were also repaired. Restoration of the smaller keeps was completed at the end of March 1964 with a total labour expenditure of 250,000 man-days.
As this was the first dismantling the reassembly of all structures ever attempted, the work required a clear understanding of the technical features of the historical architecture, any structural defects and assembly methods. The work also required the replacement of damaged or decayed parts and research into methods of reinforcing various parts and materials in order to extend the life of the structure. A scale model aided in the identification of various problems and made for a safer, more efficient worksite.
Forty-five years after the Shōwa Era Restoration, damage and deterioration gradually began to affect the Main Keep of Himeji Castle. This prompted the second restoration, a five-year project that began in 2009. The Heisei Era Restoration was undertaken with the aim to preserve the Main Keep and to ensure that this invaluable World Heritage and National Treasure can be passed on to future generations with its beauty intact.
During this restoration the plaster walls were resurfaced, and the roof tiles were replaced. Arrangements were made to allow visitors to see inside the suyane (roofed scaffold structure). This was intended to deepen the interest and understanding of the significance of the restoration of this cultural property. The completion of this work was celebrated with a grand reopening in March 2015.
- Information signs at Himeji Castle