Himeji: Japan's Largest and Most Majestic Castle

In a country of over 100 castles, one stands-out to be Japan's largest, most visited, and most revered: Himeji. Located an hour away by train from Osaka, Himeji Castle is the finest example of the prototypical Japanese castle architecture.

* So iconic that the Castle has actually been featured in period movies, television series, and games like Civilization Revolution and Shogun Total War.

* Built in 1333 as a fort under Akamatsu Norimura, the Castle underwent several expansions and renovations before finally arriving at its present five-structure, heavily fortified, castle complex.

* And it has been reverently referred to by locals as the White Heron Castle, due to its white exterior and (supposed) resemblance to a bird taking flight.

* Where armies used to battle and die for power and honor, now only tourists remain.

* Apart from wandering the grounds of the Castle exterior, tours of the interior are also available.

* Indeed one can explore the entirety of the structure: from the basement to the 6th floor.

* But, a word of warning, the climb is steep and claustrophobic; though the elderly Japanese visitors sure didn't mind!

* Amazing what skilled engineers, architects, and laborers can build with wood!

* Even here, the legendary Japanese system of queueing persists! What an amazing people.

* Growing up a fan of arcade games like Samurai Showdown and Bushido Blade, I could easily imagine all the epic battles that could be had here.

* And of course, there's plenty of room for ninjas to play with!

* Could have been an awesome obstacle course for Takeshi's Castle.

* Fortification Walls: a common defensive measure common across Europa, the Middle East, and the Orient.

* Apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Castle is also a designated "National Treasure" and considered as one of Japan's three "Premier Castles" along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle. 

* Not sure what card game this is, but I sure am intrigued! Though their backs probably hurt after a while what with the absence of tables and chairs.

* Good Lord, what a moat! Laying siege on this Castle must have been a pain in the ass!

* Incredible. One cannot easily take his/her eyes off of this view!

* A bonus attraction located nearby is the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge.

* Known for being the longest suspension bridge in the world; beating the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco by over 700 meters!

* The things that the Japanese have built (and continue to build) never fail to amaze me.

* For those who dare, tours of the walkways are available.

* To protect from the strong howling winds, transparent reinforced panels surround the walkways; though for thrilling effect, some sections of the walkway flooring are also transparent, giving one the feeling of perilously standing almost a thousand feet above water.

* Plus, the walkways are extremely photogenic!

* Golden Gate who?!


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