Japanese castles built during the Warring States Period were infused with the wisdom and techniques required for use as military facilities. Despite its graceful external appearance, Himeji Castle was built with a robust structure that thoroughly considered defensive and offensive aspects.
The interior Himeji Castle of is so complex that it resembles a maze, to preclude incursions by large numbers of soldiers and to prevent enemies from reaching the Main Keep. These features include branching routes, strong gates with iron doors, and narrow gates that barely allow a single-file line of men to pass through.
The angle of the castle’s stone walls increases towards the top, creating a curved shape that resembles the contour of an opened folding fan. This shape is believed to have made it difficult for invaders to scale the walls.
The castle’s turrets and earthen walls incorporate rectangular loopholes, known as machicolations, from which defenders would unleash arrows or drop stones on enemies scaling the walls, as well as round, triangular and square loopholes for use with matchlock guns. Thanks to their regular spacing these defensive works gave the castle a beautiful appearance.
The thickly latticed windows were designed to prevent enemy intrusions and the entry of arrows and bullets. The two small keeps on the west and northwest feature bell-shaped Kato-mado windows decorated with black lacquer and gold foil, a type of window that can be often seen in Buddhist temples.
- Himeji Tourist Guide & Map
- World Heritage and National Treasure – Himeji Castle
- Information signs at Himeji Castle