When the han feudal system was abolished in 1871, Himeji Castle was put up for auction. The castle was purchased by a Himeji resident for 23 Japanese yen (about 200,000 yen or US$2,258 today). The buyer wanted to demolish the castle complex and develop the land, but the cost of destroying the castle was estimated to be too great, and it was again spared.
Along with Matsumoto Castle and Kumamoto Castle, Himeji Castle is considered one of Japan's three premier castles. It is the most visited castle in Japan, receiving over 820,000 visitors annually. Starting in April 2010, Himeji Castle underwent restoration work to preserve the castle buildings, and this work is expected to continue until 2014. Entry to the castle keep is closed throughout the renovation, but visitors can view the restoration process from observation platforms and they can continue to enter other areas of the castle complex.