Himeji Castle is the best example of an original Japanese castle. It is the grandest and most beautiful of the 12 surviving feudal castles. The castle dominates the city of Himeji and can be seen from the train as you arrive. The castle was completed in 1609 to be used as a fortress and to show the power and strength of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Himeji suffered severe damage during World War II but miraculously the castle survived. The castle's design and white plastered walls give the illusion of a large white heron ready to fly into the blue sky and thus it is known as the "White Heron Castle".