Castle,Japanese traditional castle-Trad Japan's Gallery- 

Castle,Japanese traditional castle-Trad Japan's Gallery-

Himeji Castle

The main donjon (tenshukaku) of Himeji Castle Himeji Castle is located in the city of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, some ninety kilometers to the west ofOsaka. At the end of the sixteenth century it was briefly in the hands of Toyotomi Hideyoshi; a retainer, Ikeda Terumasa (1564-1613), then became its lord and ndertook, over nine years (1601-1609), the massive reconstruction that has left us with the castle we know today.Viewed laterally, the castle seems to assume the shape of a white egret stretching out its wings, and therefore is known popularly as Egret Castle. The beauty of its surrounding white walls and its grand scale have ensured that itranks first of Japanese castles. The main donjon, the highest structure, is fortyfive meters high, and it and its surrounding tructures have been designated National Treasures.Because, naturally, the prime function of the castle was defense, its interior is solid and simple, reflecting practicality above all else. Externally, though, the castle exhibits an elegance inherited from the temple architectural tradition. This aesthetic consciousness, which demands beauty in even a building intended for war, is unexpected in warriors. Still, these were men to whom the morrow might as easily bring death as life, and they doubtless would have preferred to be dependent for their safety on a fortress that was also a thing of beauty.

 

Himeji Castle, designated a National Treasure, rises in elegant splendor above a cloud of cherry trees. The central keep sits on a 45-meter hill. The five stories visible from the outside actually conceal seven internal stories.

Castle,Japanese traditional castle-Trad Japan's Gallery-

Aerial view of the central keep of the Himeji Castle shows the labyrinth of walled passages which provides the final layer of protection against invasion. The tile roofs were impervious to flaming arrows, and the steep slope of the rock base wall thwarted those who tried to climb into the castle.

 Castle,Japanese traditional castle-Trad Japan's Gallery- Nijo Castle

The jodan-no-ma audience hall of the Ninomaru

Palace, part of the Nijo Castle compound, Kyoto. The walls and coffered ceiling are decorated with paintings by the 17th-century artist, Kano Tanyu. 

 Castle,Japanese traditional castle-Trad Japan's Gallery-

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle wascompleted in 1585, having been conceived byToyotomi Hideyoshi as a structure worthy ofone-who had brought the greater part of Japanunder his sway, and built by the cooptedefforts of daimyo (feudal lords) from around thecountry. What makes the castle distinctive isits massive stone walls, some blocks of whichmeasure sixty square meters in area. Somestone blocks display the crests and marks ofthe daimyo who donated them and who supervised the building. After Hideyoshi's death, Tokugawa Ieyasu,who inherited his power, captured and burnedthe castle in a conflict over the succession.Though it was rebuilt a short while later, it wasagain destroyed, this time by lightning. Thepresent structure, the main keep only, is areconstruction dating from 1931, modeled onpictures depicting it during Hideyoshi's time.
This allows us to imagine the imposing appear-ance of the original. Osaka residents still call it "Hideyoshi's Castle," and look upon it with deep affection.