Shirasagi-jo, the White Heron Castle, is located in Himeji City in the Hyogo Prefecture, an area that has been an important transportation hub in West Japan since ancient times. The castle is situated on a hill summit in the central part of the Harima Plain which comprises eighty-two buildings.
The castle is centred on the Tenshu-gun, a complex made up of the donjon, keeps and connecting structures that are part of a highly developed system of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. The castle functioned continuously as the centre of a feudal domain for almost three centuries, until 1868 when the Shogun fell and a new national government was created.
Himeji-jo was inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1993 for being a masterpiece of construction in wood. It combines its effective functional role with great aesthetic appeal, both in the use of white-painted plaster – that has earned it the name Shirasagi-jo (White Heron Castle) – and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers. It represents the culmination of Japanese castle architecture in wood, and preserves all its significant features intact.
Header photo of Himeji Castle © Srlee2 Dreamstime.com
Text from UNESCO (CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0)