Himeji Jyou 姫路城
I think that most of my friends here in Japan had already posted pictures and info on this castle. In Japan, most would agree that it is the best preserved example of Medieval Japanese castle architecture.
Apparently the shape of this castle appears to be like a bird poised for flight, hence the name White Egret/Heron.
When I was there, it was autumn, or was it close to winter? Hmmm, I had forgotten. If you go in Spring, the whole place will be filled with sakuras, a beautiful complement to the castle.
It was built in 1346 by Sadanori Akamatsu and then later was expanded and had its layout changed by Hideyoshi Toyotomi in 1580.
Later, when Hideyoshi died, civil wars errupted again, this time between Tokugawa and Toyotomi. Tokugawa won and the castle was given to Terumasa Ikeda, the husband of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa's daughter. Terumasa Ikeda then remodelled the castle to its current form.
This castle served as a living mansion and a storage warehouse for arms and provisions. During war times, it served as a command and observatory tower for military defense.
One of the unique aspect of this castle is the construction of the stone walls. It has a deep arc-shaped warp or a deep curve which is unique for Japanese castle architecture.
The point of having such a deep curve for the walls is to prevent the swelling of the stone walls by reducing the vertical pressure of the main castle tower and also at the same time to withstand earthquakes. Also, during rainy season, this will prevent the water from getting trapped in corners.
While it was first constructed for military purposes, it gradually transformed to be a "show piece".
In 1993, it was designated as a UNESCO world cultural and heritage site. It has kept its original form for 400 years, undamaged by the Second World War. All the information about this castle was taken from