Monday, January 07, 2008


Himeji is a town approximately thirty minutes from Osaka by shinkansen. Situated in Himeji is Japan's most impressive castle, Himeji-jo, which was used in the James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice' (and if you're wondering, I did run about the castle pretending to be James Bond when no one was looking). The castle is also known as Shirasagi, the white heron, as it is supposed to resemble a bird in flight.

There has been a fortress in Himeji since 1346 and the present castle was completed in 1618. The main castle has six levels supported by huge wooden pillars, one of which is made from a 780 year old cypress tree and it is said that if you touch it, you will have a long life.

Inside there are many
interesting things on display. On top of the main tower is the Osakabe Shrine and you can look out across the main castle from there.

On leaving the castle you come across the
Harakiri-maru. It was here that samurai would have commited ritual suicide(seppuku).

The castle has a famous ghost story called 'Banshu Sara-Yashiki'. A servant named Okiku prevented the murder of the Lord of the castle by the chief samurai, who wanted to become Lord. In revenge for this the chief samurai stole a valuable dish, the blame for which was put on Okiku and resulted in her being tortured to death. The well where her body was thrown into can be seen

You can check out all the pictures here.