When tourists approach any such historical towns as Himeji, Osaka, or Nagoya, they are captivated by the imposing view of a white castle tower soaring, as it were, to the sky. They are relics of the strongholds of feudal lords in the Edo Period. Older Japanese castles had been simply in the shape of ramparts and stockades. Intercourse with the West was opened in the middle of the 15th century, and firearms were introduced by the Portuguese. In connection with this the most notable innovation was made in castle architecture under the influence of the European-style castle. However, their appearance and architectural conception are entirely Japanese. They are surrounded by deep moats, generally two or three, one within the other. There remain about twenty well-preserved castles throughout japan. The finest among them are Himeji and Nagoya castles.
The castle sites are now mostly converted into public parks.