Himeji, home to half a million people, is often a day trip or a stopover between Kyoto (or Osaka or Kobe) and Hiroshima. Himeji is most famous for its wooden castle (covering over 350 acres) which is widely considered to be Japan’s best and most beautiful surviving feudal castle. Also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) or White Egret Castle (Hakurojo). For nearly 700 years, the castle has survived war, earthquake, or fire. It even survived the World War II bombing. The first fortification were completed in the 1300s and later expanded several times over the next few centuries. The final hilltop castle complex was completed in 1618 and made up of over eighty buildings connected by a series of gates and winding paths across multiple baileys. Next to the Himeji Castle is Kokoen Garden. A relatively new Japanese style garden opened in April 1992 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Himeji city. It has nine separate walled gardens (including a tea garden, a bamboo garden, two flower gardens, and a pine tree garden) using various design styles of the Edo Period (1603-1867).