Himeji Castle, or the white heron, was first built in the 1500s. It has survived 48 transfers of power (both peaceful and not) as well as a bombing by America. Somehow this amazing structure managed to survive after two duds hit it in World War II. (A footnote a British couple made sure to bring to my attention…)
The morning after we arrived from Yamazaki, we lined up to get tickets to visit the white heron. Since we were there early we were given a special ticket. We would be 2 of the first thousand people to visit the main keep that day! This made the visit so much more worth it and I suggest all who go to Himeji to line up by 8am to seize this rare opportunity. To be honest, the main keep alone was worth the price of admission.
But the moment that will stay with me as long as the amazing views of the castle, courtyard, and lookouts, would have to be the opening of the gates. With hundreds of people in line at 9am, a man took a stick to a large taiko (drum) and moments later… BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, we were let in through the gates!
There was a surge of people pushing up towards the ticket windows. (Because of this we could tell that not everyone was Japanese…) Since we were at the very front of the line it was like the castle was opened up just for us. No one except the volunteers were there. It was like this ancient structure was renovated just for us to come see it.
Once we had our fill of the views, and rain, we gathered our things and headed toward Hiroshima by bullet train.