If you’ve watched You Only Live Twice, you’ll have already recognised this majestic structure. Still, allow us
If you’ve watched You Only Live Twice, you’ll have already recognised this majestic structure. Still, allow usto tickle your grey cells. Bond-san (Sean Connery) makes an entrée théâtrale in Honshu in a helicopter. The helicopter lands on the grounds of the Himeji Castle where ninjas are training in secret. And then Bond dons his dubious ‘Japanese’ make-up…
That was in 1967; in March this year, Himeji Castle reopened after five years of hard-core and expensive renovation as the cherry-blossom trees in its Kokoen gardens burst into colour. Commissioned in 1601, the castle—Japan’s first Unesco heritage site—is held upright by two rough-hewn 87-ft-high chopsticks, one fir and the other cypress, and has never seen combat (unless you count the fights in the movie). The woodwork inside has been touched up, the tiles on the rooftops cemented with a strong plaster of boiled seaweed and powdered shells, and the exterior whitewashed. But the most interesting addition to the Himeji experience is the interactive app, which gives you x-ray views of the castle’s woodwork as well as reconstructions of how people lived in its now almost-empty interiors. One of Japan’s foremost tourist destinations, the castle is expected to attract at least 10,000 visitors a day.
¥720 (castle and gardens); open 9am– 5pm, closed Dec 29, 30; www.himeji-kanko.jp
Unesco heritage site