UNESCO World Heritage Site #21: Himeji-jo
Constructed from 1601-1609, Himeji-jo is also known as Hakuro-jo (“White Egret Castle”) from the plaster that covers the exterior. Easy to reach from the train station, it makes for a good day trip from Kyoto or brief stop on the journey from Osaka to Hiroshima. The castle was built to confuse attackers with its many deceptions. It was never attacked and functioned as the centre of a feudal domain for almost 300 years until the fall of the shogunate. Plaster is what gives the castle its white look.
From the UNESCO website:
“Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. It is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers.”