Himeji-jo

Himeji-jo

Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. It is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers.

Himeji-jo

Himeji-jo est l'expression la plus parfaite de l'architecture de château du début du XVIIe siècle au Japon. Il comprend 83 bâtiments, avec des dispositifs de défense très élaborés et d'ingénieux systèmes de protection édifiés au début de la période du shogunat. C'est un chef-d'œuvre de construction en bois qui associe un véritable rôle fonctionnel à un grand attrait esthétique, par l'élégance de son aspect et ses murs de terre blanchis, et par la subtilité des relations entre les masses des bâtiments et les multiples plans de ses toits.

هيميجي-جو

 يعتبَر قصر هيميجي-جو أكثر الأمثلة دلالةً على هندسة القصور في بداية القرن السابع عشر في اليابان. فهو يتألّف من 83 مبنى مُحصَّنًا بأنظمة دفاع متطوّرة للغاية وأجهزة للحماية شديدة الدقة أُنشئت في بداية حكم الشوغون. فهو تحفة مصنوعة من الخشب تجمع ما بين دورها الوظيفي الحقيقي والشكل الجمالي الفائق الروعة من خلال فخامة هيئته وجدرانه المصنوعة من التربة البيضاء ومن خلال دقة الروابط بين كتل المباني وتصاميم سقوفها المتعدّدة.  

source: UNESCO/ERI

姬路城

姬路城堡是17世纪早期日本城堡建筑保存最为完好的例子,整个城堡由83座建筑物组成,展示了幕府时代高度发达的防御系统和精巧的防护装置。这些建筑在保证了防御功能的同时也体现了极高的美学价值,是木结构建筑的典范之作。城堡的白色外墙、建筑物的布局和城堡屋顶的多层设计都显得气势恢弘,雄伟壮观。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Замок Химедзи

Химедзи – это лучший из уцелевших образцов архитектуры японских замков начала XVII в., включающий 83 здания с хорошо развитой системой обороны и хитроумными охранными устройствами, и относящийся ко времени первых сёгунов. Это шедевр деревянной архитектуры, в котором функциональность сочетается с эстетикой. Это проявляется как в его элегантном внешнем виде, который придают ему белые оштукатуренные земляные стены, так и в утонченности отношений между монолитной массой основного здания и его многоярусными крышами.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Himeji-jo

Himeji-jo es la más perfecta expresión arquitectónica de un castillo japonés de comienzos del siglo XVII. El sitio comprende un conjunto de 83 edificios con dispositivos defensivos muy perfeccionados y sistemas de protección notablemente ingeniosos, que datan de la primera época del sogunato. Obra maestra de la arquitectura en madera que une los aspectos funcionales a un gran atractivo estético, el castillo de Himeji-jo se destaca por la elegancia de su silueta y sus muros de tierra blanqueados, así como por la sutil relación establecida entre los volúmenes de sus edificios y los múltiples planos de sus techumbres.

source: UNESCO/ERI

姫路城

source: NFUAJ

Himeji-jo

Himeji-jo is het mooiste overgebleven voorbeeld van vroeg 17e-eeuwse Japanse kasteelarchitectuur. Het bestaat uit 83 gebouwen met sterk ontwikkelde defensiesystemen en ingenieuze beveiligingen uit het begin van de Shogun periode. De houten constructie is een meesterwerk dat functie combineert met esthetische aantrekkingskracht. Himeji-jo heeft al zijn belangrijke kenmerken weten te behouden. Het kasteel is ook een krachtig en suggestief symbool van het feodalisme dat in Japan heerste tot de Meiji restauratie van 1868.

Source: unesco.nl

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture. It is located in Himeji City, in the Hyogo Prefecture, an area that has been an important transportation hub in West Japan since ancient times. The castle property, situated on a hill summit in the central part of the Harima Plain, covers 107 hectares and comprises eighty-two buildings. It is centred on the Tenshu-gun, a complex made up of the donjon, keeps and connecting structures that are part of a highly developed system of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. The castle functioned continuously as the centre of a feudal domain for almost three centuries, until 1868 when the Shogun fell and a new national government was created.

The principal complex of these structures is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls – that has earned it the name Shirasagi-jo (White Heron Castle) – and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers visible from almost any point in the city.

Criterion (i): Himeji-jo is a masterpiece of construction in wood. It combines its effective functional role with great aesthetic appeal, both in the use of white-painted plaster and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers.

Criterion (iv): It represents the culmination of Japanese castle architecture in wood, and preserves all its significant features intact.

Integrity

The property, a single entity zone of 107 ha, is almost coincident with the overall castle grounds, which are divided into the inner walled zone and the outer walled zone. The property boundaries follow the moats around the outer walled zone, except in the southeast. In the property zone, the eighty-two buildings that include the donjon complex, ramparts, gates, and stone walls have fully retained their original composition and condition dating back to the early 17th century, although some of the buildings of Himeji-jo were lost in the process of historical change.

The feudal masters of the castle kept it in good order with regular repair campaigns in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. There has been some loss of buildings over time. After the national government took over the site, part of the west bailey and samurai houses were replaced by military buildings. These buildings were removed in 1945 and replaced by public buildings. In 1882, fire destroyed the castle lord’s residential compounds. However, these losses can be considered minor one, and total integrity has been kept.

Thus, Himeji-jo perfectly preserves the interior and exterior characteristics of a 17th century Japanese castle, and integrity is ensured in the contexts of both wholeness and intactness.

Authenticity

A series of conservation projects since 1934 have been carried out using techniques developed in Japan for conservation of wooden structures and in conformity with established principles of authenticity in terms of form/design, materials/substance, traditions/techniques and location/setting. The use of new materials is rigorously controlled, and all important proposals should be discussed and approved by the council. Buildings added to the site in the 19th or 20th centuries have been removed.

The only modern intrusion has been the insertion of the reinforced concrete foundation raft, which was justified on the grounds that the process of deformation of the structures due to the weakness of the subsoil would inevitably lead to catastrophic collapse in a region of high seismic activity. Incompatible interventions, such as doors and windows, that occurred in earlier work, have been replaced with appropriate elements when enough information was available on the form and substance of the originals.

Protection and management requirements

Since the beginning of the Japanese Modern period in 1868, the national government has protected the property in close cooperation with local governments.

Its eighty-two buildings and the site area of 107 ha are protected as National Treasures, Important Cultural Properties and a Special Historic Site under the 1950 Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties. Under the law, proposed alterations to the existing state of the property are restricted, and any alteration must be approved by the national government.

Development pressure in the 143 hectare buffer zone is controlled by the 1987 Himeji City Urban Design Ordinance, the regulatory power of which was reinforced in 2008 under the 2004 Landscape Law. According to the 2004 Landscape Law, Himeji City also amended the 1988 Urban Design Master Plan and newly developed the Landscape Control Guideline in 2007. Himeji City must be notified of any proposed projects along streets with scenic views of Himeji-jo, and any proposed large-scale projects in the surroundings of Himeji-jo, in order to confirm that the proposed structures will fit in with the character of the historic environment.    

All the buildings and most of the site area are owned by the national government. Ownership of the remaining area is divided among Hyogo Prefecture, Himeji City, and private companies. Under the 1950 Law, Himeji City is appointed as the official custodial body for managing the legally protected Himeji-jo site and buildings. The city carries out its responsibilities through the Management Office for the Himeji-jo Area, and according to the 1964 City Ordinance for the Management of Himeji-jo, the 1986 Management Plan for the Himeji-jo Historic Site (final revision in 2008), and guidance by the national government. The efforts cover activities including daily maintenance, cleaning, regular inspection, traffic restriction, disaster prevention, and site arrangement and interpretation.

As fire and earthquakes are the greatest risk to the property, the buildings are equipped with automatic fire alarms, security cameras, fire hydrants, and lightning arresters. All information from these facilities is monitored by the Himeji-jo Disaster Control Centre. With regard to earthquakes, Himeji City established an expert committee in 2006 to study, analyze, develop, and implement a necessary seismic strengthening scheme for the main donjon of Himeji-jo.

Long Description

Himeji-jo is a masterpiece of wooden construction, the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, and preserves all its significant features intact. The castle is also a powerful and evocative symbol of the feudalism that prevailed in Japan until the Meiji restoration of 1868.

Himeji is situated at an important communications centre and as a result the regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi built a castle there in the closing years of the 16th century, part of the network of such fortresses that he created all over Japan to ensure its continued unification. The first castle was destroyed by Ikeda Terumas, who became the feudal lord of the area under the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600, but he quickly erected a new fortress, most of which survives to the present day. It comprised two concentric enclosures defined by walls and moats, containing keeps and turrets as well as residences for his samurai (warriors). Part of the west bailey (Nishi-no-maru) was remodelled by Honda Tadamasa, lord of the castle in 1617, as quarters for his wife, daughter of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. It remained the centre of this feudal domain for 270 years and a town grew up around it.

With the end of the shogunate and the restoration of the Meiji dynasty in 1868, Himeji-jo was taken over by the new government as a military establishment, when part of the west bailey and the samurai houses were demolished and replaced by military structures. Unlike many other feudal castles in Japan, Himeji-jo was preserved in its original form, thanks to the intervention of army officers such as Colonel Nakamura Shigeto, and it was given protection under successive monuments protection acts.

In 1945 the military facilities in and around the castle were demolished and replaced by public buildings for official use. The inner buildings were, however, not touched and retained their 17th-century form.

Himeji-jo is an archetypal early 17th-century castle complex in design and layout, comprising 83 buildings in all. Only the east gate of one section of the second bailey survives from the castle built by Hideyoshi; the remainder dates from 1601-9, plus the towers of Nishi-no-Maru (after 1617).

The centre of the complex is the Tenshu-gun, consisting of a main keep and three subsidiary keeps, with connecting structures. This is surrounded by a system of watchtowers, gates and plastered earthen walls. Set on a low hill, it is visible from every part of the city. The main keep (Dai-Tenshu) has six interior storeys and a basement. The main access is from the south-west, through a covered corridor.

The striking appearance of this great wooden structure with its white plastered walls is the source of the name by which it is often known, the Castle of the White Heron (Shirasagi-jo).

Many castles were built in Japan in the early years of the shogun period. Most of these have subsequently been demolished and others were destroyed during the Second World War. Of the handful that survives, Himeji-jo is the most complete and unaltered, largely thanks to the efforts of army officers after the Meiji restoration. The conservation work between 1934 and 1964 was carried out using the advanced techniques developed in Japan for large wooden structures and in conformity with established principles of authenticity in design, materials, techniques, and environment.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Himeji is sited at an important communications centre and as a result the Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi built a castle there in the closing years of the 16th century, part of the network of such fortresses that he created all over Japan to ensure its continued unification. The first castle was destroyed by Ikeda Terumas, who became the feudal lord of the area under the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1600, but he quickly erected a new fortress, most of which survives to the present day. It comprised two concentric enclosures defined by walls and moats, containing keeps and turrets as well as residences for his samurai (warriors). Part of the west bailey (Nishi-no-maru) was remodelled by Honda Tadamasa, lord of the castle in 1617, as quarters for his wife, daughter of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. It remained the centre of this feudal domain for 270 years and a town grew up around it.

With the end of the Shogunate and restoration of the Meiji dynasty in 1868, Himeji-jo was taken over by the new government as a military establishment, when part of the west bailey and the samurai houses were dernolished and replaced by military structures. Unlike many other feudal castles in Japan, Himeji-jo was preserved in its original form, thanks to the intervention of army officers such as Colonel Nakamura Shigeto, and it was given protection under successive monuments protection acts (see Legal Status below) .

In 1945 the military facilities in and around the castle were demolished and replaced by public buildings for official use. The inn er buildings were, however, not touched and retained their 17th century form.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation