Himeji Travel Guide
Home to one of the best-known authentic castles in Japan, Himeji is a popular tourist destination for Japanese and foreign tourists alike.
There is more to see than this impressive piece of history, though – with mountains, temples, and offbeat museums, there is enough here to keep you occupied over two full days of sightseeing.
Come check out our Himeji travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Himeji, Japan.
Start your visit to Himeji by checking out Himeji Castle. One of 12 castles in Japan that have survived the Edo Period, the Meiji Restoration, and the Second World War, it is the primary reason why tourists visit this small city in Kansai.
Also known as White Heron Castle for its brilliant white appearance, its imposing presence made it vital to the defence of nearby Kyoto. It consists of 80 buildings connected by ramparts and maze-like paths, the latter of which was designed to confuse attackers.
The top level affords sweeping views of the surrounding area, and in spring, the garden explodes in cherry blossoms, making a popular gathering place for locals. Given the sprawling nature of this attraction, be sure to allow several hours to properly appreciate one of Japan’s most beautiful castles.
Looking to get into nature while in Himeji? Head to the base of Mount Shosha and hike the trail leading up it. Like most urban areas in Japan, Himeji can be a bit of a concrete jungle at times – soon after heading up this path, you’ll be quickly surrounded by greenery that will help you relax and unwind.
The path can be steep in places, so if you aren’t fit, you may need to take your time. Otherwise, there is a ropeway that you can take to get amazing views from the summit without sweating out your body weight in water.
At the top of Mount Shosha, you’ll find a number of Buddhist temples. The most significant of these is Engyoji Temple, as its atmospheric nature led it to be picked for scenes shot in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Last Samurai.
Engyoji Temple consists of three main buildings: the main hall, a lodging and dining hall where exhibits can now be found, and a gymnasium where monks engage in physical activity. It also boasts panoramic views over the city of Himeji below, so be sure to head up here at Golden Hour for some spectacular photos.
Searching for something interesting and offbeat to see while in the Himeji area? Make your way over to Taiyo Park during your visit. Sitting across from a nursing home, the intent of this place was to give its residents a chance to ‘travel the world’ without leaving home.
While its condition has decayed considerably since its construction many years ago, the presence of global icons like the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors of Xian, and Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle give this place a kitsch factor which makes it attractive to many travellers.
Note that admission for this attraction is 1300 yen; if weird, obscure sights aren’t your thing, this might not be for you, especially when you consider its rundown state.
Have a craving for culture during your visit to Himeji? Take an hour or two to explore the Himeji City Museum of Art. Housed inside a building that dates back to the Meiji Restoration, it contains works of art from across Japan and around the world.
Stand out pieces from the likes of Picasso, Rodin, and Delvaux make this place working checking out, even if it doesn’t compare to what can be found in bigger cities.
Take a deep dive into the history of crafts and toys in Japan by visiting the Japan Toy Museum. Located in the countryside ten kilometres from Himeji, you’ll find traditional Japanese folk crafts and toys, as well as examples of toys and crafts from 160 countries around the world.
With 90,000 pieces and with permission to play with many of them, this attraction is a must see for those who remain forever young on the inside.
Located near the grounds of Himeji Castle, Kokoen Garden is a reconstruction of the garden where the lord of the keep once sought solace in nature. Completed in 1992, this serene place is divided into nine separate sections, each representing a style of garden common to the Edo Period.
Before leaving, stop by their tea house and enjoy a cup while you take in this attraction’s peaceful surroundings.
Before boarding the train to go home, grab a meal or drink on Otemae Street. Connecting the train station with Himeji Castle, it is a convenient place to unwind after a day of sightseeing.