Himeji Castle, a World Heritage Site located in the town of Himeji west of Kobe and Osaka in western Japan, is Japan's best-known and most-visited castle.
It is known as the Shirasagijo, or White Heron Castle, because of its bright white exterior.
The complex of more than 80 buildings was built between 1333-1346, and then from 1601-1608 major expansion work took place.
It has a complicated series of paths - for defensive purposes - that lead into the main structure.
The castle miraculously survived World War Two bombing and neglect.
The castle has appeared in several films. In the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, Himeji Castle was the training center for Tiger Tanaka's band of ninjas. It also served as a location for Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha and Ran. More recently, Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai used the Castle as a background.
This photo, taken on a sunny day in December, shows the Castle from Himeji Station. The main street in Himeji is decorated with flower-covered bollards.
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