The second full-day of my trip saw me go west to Himeji which is famous for its castle. At the moment its not too much to look at though and nor will it be for for the next five years as its under reconstruction and basically has a huge bag covering up the main part (below left) Luckily I saw the castle five years ago in its full glory (below right) so I wasn’t too gutted to see it in its current state. On that previous visit it was closed but I did see the inside of it this time.
If you’ve ever seen James Bond in ‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967) then you may recognise this place as the ninja training school. I had one screenshot with me and was most surprised to see that the stone statue thing behind Sean Connery was still knocking about. It can be found in the West Bailey and needless to say I was the only person in the whole place who took an interest in this piece of concrete!
Despite being made nearly 45 years ago it was still possible to locate some of the shooting scenes which feature below and in the picture above right.
Another film to be shot at Himeji-jo was Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Kagemusha’ (The Shadow Warrior) in 1980 which is set in medieval times. This movie became known to me as it was bankrolled by 20th Century Fox who were convinced by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola to fund the remainder of the film in exchange for its international distribution rights after Toho Studios couldn’t fulfill the budget demands of the film.
Himeji-jo wasn’t actually my first stop of the day though as I took a 30 minute bus ride to Mount Shosha which needed an additional ropeway to get there. The reason for visiting this mountain was to visit the sacred and peaceful Engyoji temple which is a nice 25 minute walk away. This mountaintop temple complex gets you away from the really big crowds and the wooden auditorium of Daikodo is lovely though not as old as one may think as in true Japanese fashion it was dismantled, repaired and restored in 1959 having originally been constructed at the end of the 15th century.