Japanese Castles(城 Shiro)


When you visit castles in Japan, you can enjoy the history, the beauty in each season, and also the popular tourist spots.
Today, I will explain the Japanese Castles in terms of…

  • The purpose of building a castle
  • Difference between Japanese and European castles
  • The most famous Castle in Japan


Why the Japanese in ancient time built a castle?

The aims of building a castle were different across the times, but the main purposes were

  • Military
  • Administrative centers for local lords

From the ancient era up to the medieval period in Japan, castles were built for military purposes.

During the era of the Tokugawa Family (1603–1868), the castles served also as administrative centers for local lords.


The Different Characteristics of Castles between Japan and Europe

  • Are there any differences in Castles between Japan and European countries?

The main buildings of castles in Japan were almost all wooden and covered with clay and plaster to defend against the fire and attacks.
Only the base ramparts of the castle were made from stone.

We can also observe the different defense functions in castles between Japan and the West.
Most Japanese castles had moats, which prevented the invasion of enemies and animals.

On the other hand, most European style castles had tall vertical walls.

This difference could be explained by the different purposes of protections.
For example, Japanese castles were aimed to protect against natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. High vertical walls could be dangerous when earthquakes occurred. So, people may have avoided constructing them, rather created moats.


The most famous castle = Himeji-Jo (姫路城)

The most famous castle in Japan is Himeji-jo, so-called “White Heron Castle”
Himeji-jo is located to Himeji City in Hyogo Prefectures (next to Osaka Prefecture).

The castle was built in 1610 and was recently designated as a World Heritage Site.

It took 5 and a half years for the major repair of Himeji-jo, accounting for 20 billion US dollars. This repair is over in 2015, and now the number of visitors to Himeji-jo exceeded 2.22 million per year.

Himeji Castle has a beautiful white appearance like a white heron spreading feathers.




Comment Comment