If you’re a big fan of Japanese history, you simply can’t come to Japan without visiting a castle at some point. However, there’s simply too many to choose from. Among all the different beautiful castles in Japan, ever wondered where the best ones to go to might be? Don’t worry, here’s one good place to start: Welcome to Himeji Castle, one of the best historical spots in Japan.
Registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, Himeji Castle is a 400 year old Samurai castle built on top of a hill located in Hyogo prefecture. After five and a half years of renovation, Himeji Castle finally reopened to the public in 2015. Purely owing to its uniquely elegant design and huge scale, Himeji Castle has had the honor of being used as the film set for several Hollywood movies including the Last Samurai and James Bond.
Considered to be the largest castle in Japan, Himeji Castle is comprised of a network of 85 unit buildings including the main tower, storehouses, gates, corridors, and turrets, all protected by a super defensive wall that has proven over the ages to be remarkably resistant to fire, bullets, and earthquakes. Originally built as a fortress, even as the rest of Himeji city went down in flames through firebombs and natural disasters, the intensity of World War II bombings and big earthquakes could not mar the beauty of this castle.
So, what is there to do at the castle? You could enter the main building, exploring for yourself the interior majestic life of Samurai royal family. There also are stairs towards the top of the tower which provides a splendid view of the surroundings. Around this castle, there are souvenirs stalls that you could stop by to grab cute key chains, pretty magnets or even some Japanese snacks. On the west side of Himeji castle lies Kokoen, a beautiful garden for those who want a change of air. A crystal clear lake with trees planted around there promise a peaceful environment. In spring, you could sit there and watch the cherry blossoms. This is also an ideal selfie spot, where you can take pictures with Himeji Castle in the background.
Getting to Himeji Castle is easy as long as you choose the right route. The recommended way is to take JR Sanyo Shinkansen departing from Osaka or Kobe Station on way to Okayama or Hiroshima. You could also take the JR Kobe line(rapid train) from Osaka bound for Himeji and stop at Himeji Station. In the station, they provide lockers for you to store your large luggage making it convenient for a one day trip to the castle. From Himeji Station north exit, you could take a direct Shinki bus, or walk for about 15 minutes straight down to reach Himeji Castle.
As it is very popular among Japanese and foreigner visitors alike, Himeji castle is bustling with people, especially on weekends or holidays. The best season to visit Himeji castle is no doubt during spring when you can see the cherry blossoms in full bloom, but if you would prefer a less crowded atmosphere try avoiding the sakura season when you schedule your visit. After all, Himeji Castle is beautiful all year round–with the colorful leaves decorating the castle in autumn and piles of snow adding to an exotic white scenery during winter.
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Address: 1115 Hoshiro, Himeji-shi, Hyogo Prefecture
Access：20 minute walk from Himejijo Station North Exit
Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
*Open till 5:00 PM in Summer
1,000 yen (Adults)
300 yen (Child)
Website: Himeji Castle (Japanese)