Himeji-jo castle, also named Shirasagi (the white egret) is recognized as the finest original castle in Japan, a masterwork of impregnability and grace, typical of Tokugawa Japan strongholds. Built in 1580 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, it is one of the handful of Japanese castles to have survived in their original form, having been home to 48 sucessive lords. Comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period, it is dominated by one five-storied main donjon and several three-stories donjons. It is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Himeji is an easy day trip from Kyoto.
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