Castles in Japan

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Sixteenth-century Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site; unusually for Japan, the castle is built of wood rather than stone. In the foreground is one of 33 wells.

Castles in Japan, as in other countries, were built as defensible fortifications, usually to protect the interests of a local lord. Today, many Japanese towns and cities incorporate a castle or the ruins of one into their modern-day design. Sometimes such castles are not quite what they seem: for example, the one in the city of Okayama (岡山) is a replica housing a museum, situated next to the foundations of the original castle, which was destroyed in World War II firebombing. Another representative example is Morioka (盛岡), a city which includes a castle site comprising only ruins, today a park.

Japanese castles were typically constructed of wood, though an exception is Himeji Castle (姫路城 Himeji-joo), which was also built with fireproof plaster.[1] It is also notable for its maze of pathways designed to confuse invaders. The castle comprises 83 buildings, and also includes 33 wells in its grounds - one of which attracts many visitors with a ghostly tale of murder and haunting.

Fourteenth-century Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle is the highest above sea level in Japan.

Another notable fortress is the fourteenth-century Bitchu-Matsuyama[2] Castle (備中松山城 Bitchuu-Matsuyama-joo) in Okayama prefecture (岡山県 Okayama-ken), which is the highest castle above sea level in Japan. It sits at 1,575 feet (480m), above the town of Takahashi (高梁).[3]

Footnotes

  1. Himeji Castle: 'Virtual Tour - Himeji Castle'.
  2. Bitchu (備中 Bitchuu) was the name of an old Japanese province.
  3. Guide to Japanese Castles: 'Bitchu Matsuyama Castle'.