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Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, was designated as a UNESCO cultural site in 1993 and is known as the must see castle in Japan. The interior of the castle was restored in the traditional manner with wood, not concrete and is the greatest look into medieval Japanese castle construction. The castle also provides an excellent look into life of Japanese nobility in the 16th century.
Himeji Castle was first built in 1346 by Akamatsu Sadanori. It was built as a defence against the local Shogunate. This fortification was eventually rebuilt in 1580, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, into the structure that is seen today. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the warlord who united Japan, received the castle from Toyotomi when Tokugawa's forces beat Toyotomi in battle. Tokugawa gave Himeji Castle to Ikeda Terumasa, his son-in-law, in 1609, who enlarged the castle and added the moats to the structure. 
Himeji Castle was never attacked or used in battle. As well, it was not damaged during WWII. It was finally restored in the 1960s.
Himeji Castle is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, with the last opportunity to enter at 4:00pm. Closing time will be extended to 6:00pm between April 27th and August 31st. 
For an adult the cost is 600 yen. You can buy combination tickets for Himeji castle and Kokoen park for 720 yen. And a combination ticket for Himeji castle and the Hyogo Museum of History for 800 yen.
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There are English-speaking volunteer guides available for tours. Because they are volunteer guides there are no set times for tours and they are not able to be booked in advance. Ask at the ticket office for availability. A guided tour takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to complete.
Himeji castle is a 15-minute walk from JR Himeji station. Go out the north side of the station and walk north. Follow either Otemae-dori, the main street in Himeji, or the Miyuki-dori shopping arcade towards the castle.
Himeji Castle is a 5-minute taxi ride from JR Himeji station. Go out the north side to the taxi stand. Ask the taxi driver to take you to Himeji-jo. It should cost less than 1,000 yen.
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