As promised, back to castles for a short interlude. Now the reconstructed castles can certainly be interesting. They are often impressive looking, and certainly have better amenities. But there is something missing. That vision of living history just isn't present like it is with a castle that has been standing for a few hundred years. Perhaps the most illustrative lesson to learn is how totally uncomfortable these castles are. Like any old building they are drafty and rather chilly in winter. The wooden stairways are steep, more like ladders really. The footing is pretty treacherous as the wood is worn smooth. It doesn't help that to protect the flooring everybody takes off their shoes and puts on slippery rubber one size fits none slippers. A lawsuit in waiting to be sure. Yet despite the high probability of a fall and the chill, there is something incredibly romantic by these large, truly beautiful structures. Much more so than their western counterparts, the Japanese military castle is a work of art.
These two photos are of Inuyama castle. It is a rather small castle, out of the way and unimportant except for one distinctive feature. It is the oldest castle still standing, having been built in 1537. It saw some action in the warring that lead to the formation of the Tokugawa shogunate, but luckily wasn't destroyed. While its not as grand as some, the simplicity is rather nice, and the location is sublime.
Matsumoto Castle is one of the more striking of the original castles, with its unusual black walls and red painted moon room. Photos taken last February.
Himeji is perhaps Japans most known castle, it is certainly the most photogenic. It is also a worthy addition to the list of World Heritage Sites. Often if you have seen a castle in a movie, its Himeji. It was in both Kurosawa's Ran as well as standing in for Edo Castle in the Shogun miniseries. Photos taken last March.