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Himeji Castle is the most architecturally interesting castle I have ever viewed.  Some say the impressive Main Keep, covered with white plaster, resembles a white egret.  It is one of twelve original castles in Japan and completed over 400 years ago.  Seven floors, including a basement, provided many opportunities to defend the castle, yet it was never attacked.  Despite air raids during WWII which decimated the city of Himeji the castle survived.  It was deemed a UNESCO World Culural Heritage Site in 1993.

The white plaster walls are 3 cm thick which protects the buildings from fires, wind, rain, and snow.  There are 997 shooting holes in the keeps, towers, and walls from which arrows and guns were shot.  Oblong ones were for bows while round, triangular, and square ones were for guns.  Latticed windows were to prevent enemies, arrows, and rocks from entering.  Eight family crests adorn the ridge-end and eave-end roof tiles proving repairs by the various lords.

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Koko-en Garden is relatively new being constructed in 1992 on the archaeologically excavated site of samurai houses and roads.  With views of Hiemji Castle in the background and it’s own zen quality it really is worth visiting.  There are nine different gardens and many ponds.