The Himeji castle (Himeji-jo in Japanese, also known as Hakurojo or Shirasagijo) is a flatland castle located in Himeji city, on a strategic site along the route to western Honshu. The castle was built in the flatland, on a natural 45m high hill called Himeyama. The Himeji castle complex is the finest surviving example of 17th century Japanese fortress architecture, and comprises 83 buildings and highly developed defence systems with carefully designed protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. The Himeji castle has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.
Construction of the castle started towards the end of the Japanese civil war in 1601 on the site of an older fortress dating back to the 14th century. When it was completed in 1609 it incorporated the latest military technologies of the time and was one of the most formidable fortresses in the world. The castle was designed to withstand attacks by firearms, which had been introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in 1543. A maze of paths leading to the central structure was meant to confuse attackers.
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