Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle (Shirasagi-jo) was Japan's first UNESCO World Heritage site. After a visit to the castle, it's easy to see why. Perched high on a hill, the castle is a breathtaking multitiered structure featuring white-tiled roofs on the outside and incredible craftsmanship on the inside.

Beginning in 1609, the castle and the surrounding area became a center of power in the region. The irony is that the castle, for all its glory, never saw any battles. Still, its importance to the history and culture of the area is significant. Spared feudal battle and U.S. bombing during World War II, it remains the pinnacle of the original Japanese castles.

Visitors to the castle are able to see examples of ancient construction techniques, as well as unique spots such as Okiku's Well.

As the story goes, a young woman named Okiku was killed there by her master for breaking some porcelain. Now, it's said that on stormy evenings her mournful voice can be heard rising up from the depths of the well as she counts her dishes one at a time. http://www.himeji-castle.gr.jp.

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