Himeji Castle is a hill castle located on the Harima plain. Actually the main complex, which consists of one main donjon and three secondary ones, is located on two hills. The main tower, almost 150 feet tall, is located on one hill and the western tower is located on the other. The size of the entire complex is 140 meters on the east-west axis and 125 meters on the north-south axis. The main tower is connected by corridors and passages (wateriyagura) to the other three towers, forming an inner court. At the base of the main tower once stood a palace, which was later destroyed by fire. In the southeast corner of the court is an area called harakiri-maru, which was where a samurai would commit suicide. The main donjon consists of seven floors, five of which are visible. The tower is strengthened by two wood columns that run from the fifteen meter stone foundation to the roof. The eastern and western towers consists of four floors, three of which are visible. The northwestern tower has five floors, only three of which are visible from outside.

In addition to the main complex there are several other buildings at Himeji Castle, which are serve as residences and storehouses. These buildings are enclosed by the the middle and outer moat, as well as stone walls. These buildings are also connected to one another by corridors and passages. The design of Himeji Castle is that of a spiral with the main complex located in the center, which the remaining buildings surround and protect.

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