Himeji - Visit Japan's Famous Castle
Himeji is definitely worth taking a day or two to visit en route to cities further south.....another Japanese fascinating travel destination.
The main reason for visiting this interesting city is the Castle.....but I also recommend Mt Shosha Temple which I thoroughly enjoyed, set in beautiful forest and gardens. Kokoen Gardens set below the castle are also lovely to wander.
Easy to reach on the
....the Sanyo Shinkansen runs from Osaka via Kobe and then on to Fukuoka,Kyushu. You can link with the shinkansen from Tokyo at Osaka.
This picturesque castle is considered to be Japan’s biggest and best..... and really is a magnificent piece of architecture. A feudal castle it is a UNESCO Heritage Site and one of Japan’s national treasures.
Built between the 14th and 16th centuries high on Himeyama Hill overlooking the city..... this castle has survived wars and weather unscathed.
Nicknamed “White Heron” because of the white plaster exterior walls....the plaster serves as a fire retardant despite the main structure being entirely of wood. Himeji Castle is probably the only castle that has remained untouched and intact for over 400 years.
The interior has amazing wooden floors and walls on several levels. The labyrinth of hallways was a deliberate design plan to make the castle safe from invaders. You need to allow around 2-3 hours to see the whole castle. There are a lot of stairs to climb.
NOTE: From April 2010 – 2014 there is some renovation work taking place on the castle.
Kokoen Gardens (above)
Kokoen Gardens are just below the Castle . It is a lovely place to wander with nine separate gardens in the style of the Edo period. Fish ponds, traditional plantings and a tea house where you can take part in a traditional tea ceremony make this worth visiting.
Mt Shosha Temple (right)
BIG BELL MT SHOSHA - HIMEJI-->
Japan Toy Museum
I recommend you take the gondola or ropeway up Mt Shoshazan to the temple. This temple which is over 1,000 years old has expansive gardens set in forest with a range of temple halls as well as the main temple.
If you are fit you may want to walk the whole way...... but you will still have plenty of walking from Niomen Gate where the gondola stops. From here you go to Maniden....a lovely wooden temple hall.
Further on you reach Daikodo which is the main hall, Jikido is the priest training centre and living quarters and the last of the three is the Jogyodo or gymnasium.
The monks can be seen as they go about their daily lives around the halls.
You may recognise Mt Shosha temple as it was used in the filming of “The Last Samurai”.
If time allows you may want to explore the Japan Toy Museum which has over 80,000 exhibits and is an interesting look at traditional Japanese toys. Some of these include
- hina dolls
- historic dolls and toys
- Silk Crafts
There is also a play corner where you can interact and play with the toys.
Shiota Hot Springs – Shiota Onsen, Yumesaki-cho
Over 300 years old you can enjoy this historic onsen with restorative waters before or after a meal of local seafood and meat. It is especially beautiful in spring blossom time.
Himeji City Museum of Art
City Museum of Literature
Getting Around the City
- You can walk to the Castle from the Station in around 15 minutes, or there is a loop bus that goes around the castle.
- A One Day Pass is available which also stops at the City Museum of Art and City Museum of Literature. Enquire at the Visitor Centre at the station.
- To get to Mt Shosa you should take the Mt Shosa Ropeway bus from the station....get off at the last stop.
- You can Hire Bicycles...enquire at the Visitor Centre at the main station.
Check this selection of
All are central to the main sightseeing and castle.
Nikko Hotel Himeji
This 15 story modern hotel is highly rated with a full range of facilities and a free breakfast.
Castle Hyogo Hotel Himeji
the rooms are spacious, and have the added bonus of a washer and dryer in the room.
Plaza Hotel Himeji
this is another well priced budget option close to the station and all sightseeing.
Washington Plaza Hotel Himeji
Being only 3 minutes from the station this 11 story, modern hotel is central well located.
Himeji Comfort Hotel
Rated 2 ** This well priced hotel has good reviews on Trip Advisor.Being one of the Comfort Chain which usually represents good value for money, it is also handy to restaurants with the Castle nearby. Free Breakfast included.
Sunroute Hotel Himeji
Not rated. This is a budget/business hotel close to the station.
More Japan Information
Tsukiji Fish Markets
12 Tips on how the Tokyo Train System works
Kamakura Day Trip
Fuji-Go-Ko ( Fuji Five Lakes)
Japan Rail Pass
Japanese Lessons and Ipod Phrasebook
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