Himeji Travel Guide: 33 Top Things to Do in Himeji, Japan

Welcome to Himeji! Are you ready to step into a storybook setting? Imagine a city where a majestic castle towers over the streets, a place where history and modernity blend seamlessly. Welcome to Himeji, home to Japan’s most beautiful and well-preserved feudal castle, Himeji Castle, also affectionately known as “White Heron Castle” for its elegant, white facade. But Himeji is more than just its castle. From serene gardens to local culinary delights, this city offers a treasure trove of experiences that await your discovery. Let’s dive into the charm of Himeji and uncover what makes this city a must-visit on your Japanese adventure.

Himeji city views from a high vantage point with mountain views in Japan

The Crown Jewel: Himeji Castle

A UNESCO Masterpiece: Standing as a testament to the craftsmanship and architectural genius of Japan’s feudal era, Himeji Castle is a sight to behold. Explore its many halls and towers, each telling a story of battles, strategy, and daily life in ancient Japan. The castle’s complex is a maze of beauty, with cherry blossoms in spring and golden hues in autumn framing it perfectly.

Stroll Through History

Gardens and More: After marveling at the castle, take a leisurely stroll to Koko-en Garden, located right next to it. This Edo-period garden features nine separate, beautifully landscaped gardens, each designed to harmonize with the seasons. It’s a place where you can experience the tranquility and aesthetic principles of traditional Japanese gardens.

Culinary Adventures

Flavors of Himeji: Dive into the local cuisine that Himeji has to offer. Be sure to try Himeji’s specialty, “Ika somen” (squid sliced into noodle-like strips), among other local dishes such as “Banshu beef” grilled to perfection. Each meal is an opportunity to savor the unique tastes of the region.

Festivals and Events

Cultural Immersion: Himeji’s calendar is dotted with festivals and events that showcase the city’s rich cultural heritage. The Himeji Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival in spring and the Himeji Yukata Festival in summer are just a couple of occasions when the city comes alive with color, music, and dance.

Beyond the Castle Walls

A City of Discoveries: Venture beyond the castle to uncover Himeji’s other attractions. The historic Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple, accessible via a scenic ropeway ride, offers panoramic views and a peaceful retreat. Meanwhile, the bustling Miyuki Street is perfect for shopping and sampling street food.

So, grab your camera and your sense of adventure, and let Himeji captivate you with its timeless beauty and charm.

Himeji Travel Guide: Things to do in Himeji, Japan

Himeji City Guide: A Brief History Of Himeji, Japan

Ready to time travel? Himeji, with its iconic White Heron Castle (Himeji Castle), is not just a stunning backdrop for photos; it’s a city that has witnessed centuries of history, battles, and cultural transformations. Let’s peel back the layers of time to discover the rich tapestry of Himeji’s past, where samurai roamed, and legends came to life.

The Rise of Himeji Castle

A Fortress in the Sky: Himeji Castle, the heart and soul of the city, began its journey in the 14th century as a small hilltop fort. Through the ages, it evolved into the sprawling complex we see today, thanks to the vision and ambition of various feudal lords. This architectural marvel, surviving wars and natural disasters, stands as a testament to Japan’s ingenuity and the samurai’s enduring spirit.

Feudal Fiefdoms and Samurai Stories

Land of Warriors: Himeji’s strategic location made it a coveted prize among feuding clans during Japan’s tumultuous feudal era. The city saw the rise and fall of powerful samurai families, each leaving their mark on its culture and architecture. The tales of their bravery, strategy, and daily lives are etched into the very stones of Himeji Castle.

A City Built Around Its Castle

Living History: As the castle grew in prominence, the city of Himeji flourished around it. Edo-period streets, merchant houses, and temples sprung up, creating a bustling town centered on the castle’s might. Walking through Himeji today, you can still feel the echoes of the past in its historic streets and buildings.

Transformations Through Time

From Feudal Stronghold to Cultural Icon: Surviving the Meiji Restoration and avoiding the bombings of World War II, Himeji Castle and its city entered the modern era as symbols of resilience and beauty. The castle’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993 cemented Himeji’s place on the global map as a destination of historical and architectural significance.

Preserving the Past

A Commitment to Heritage: Himeji’s dedication to preserving its history is evident not just in the castle but in the efforts to maintain traditional practices, from tea ceremonies to ancient festivals. The city’s museums and cultural centers keep the stories of its past alive for future generations to learn from and enjoy.

Legends Live On

Tales as Old as Time: Beyond the historical facts, Himeji is a land of legends. Stories of ghosts like the famous Okiku well, and tales of hidden treasures add a layer of mystery and intrigue to the city’s historic sites, captivating the imagination of visitors.

So, lace up your walking shoes, and let’s dive deep into the history that shapes Himeji’s present.

Himeji Kokoen scenic garden in Japan

Himeji Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Japan

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.

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.

More Attractions

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.

Other Attractions

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.

Himeji ume flower on the tree in Japan

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Himeji, Japan

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.

More Attractions

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.

source: Happy Trip on YouTube

Top 33 Things To Do in Himeji, Japan For Visitors

Here are the top 33 things to do in Himeji:

Himeji beautiful garden in Japan

1. Explore Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle, also known as “White Heron Castle” due to its elegant white appearance, is one of Japan’s most beautiful and well-preserved feudal castles. Visitors can explore the castle’s numerous defensive features, towers, and gates. The view from the top offers a panoramic view of Himeji City. The castle grounds are especially beautiful during cherry blossom season.

2. Stroll through Koko-en Garden

Located next to Himeji Castle, Koko-en Garden is a collection of nine Edo-period walled gardens. Each garden has its own unique style, featuring traditional Japanese landscaping, tea houses, and water features. It’s a serene place to experience traditional Japanese garden aesthetics. The garden also offers a great view of Himeji Castle.

3. Visit Engyo-ji Temple on Mt. Shosha

Engyo-ji Temple, located on Mt. Shosha, is a tranquil temple complex with over 1,000 years of history. Visitors can reach the temple via ropeway and enjoy hiking trails among ancient buildings set in beautiful forested surroundings. The temple was a filming location for “The Last Samurai.” It’s a peaceful retreat from the city with stunning views.

4. Enjoy Himeji Central Park

Himeji Central Park is a unique combination of a safari park, amusement rides, and a water park. Visitors can drive through the safari zone to see animals roaming freely or enjoy various attractions and rides in the amusement area. It’s a fun day out for families and animal lovers. The ice skating rink and snow sledding area offer year-round entertainment.

5. Learn at the Himeji City Museum of Art

The Himeji City Museum of Art houses a collection of both Japanese and Western art. Its exhibitions often focus on themes related to Himeji and its surrounding region. The museum’s building, designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando, is a work of art in itself. It’s a must-visit for art lovers exploring Himeji.

6. Walk through the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History

The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History showcases the history and culture of Hyōgo Prefecture. It features interactive exhibits, including reconstructions of historical scenes and artifacts from various periods. The museum also provides insights into the construction and significance of Himeji Castle. It’s an educational experience for those interested in the region’s past.

7. Relax at Shoshazan Ropeway

The Shoshazan Ropeway offers a scenic ride to the top of Mt. Shosha, providing stunning views of Himeji and its surroundings. The ride is especially beautiful in autumn when the foliage changes color. It’s the easiest way to reach Engyo-ji Temple and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. The ropeway station at the top includes a restaurant and souvenir shop.

8. Visit the Himeji City Aquarium

The Himeji City Aquarium, one of the oldest in Japan, offers an intimate look at marine life, focusing on species from the Seto Inland Sea. The aquarium features a variety of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks in well-designed tanks. It’s a great place to learn about marine biodiversity and conservation. The touch pool is popular with children, offering a hands-on learning experience.

9. Experience the Himeji Yukata Festival

The Himeji Yukata Festival, held in early summer, is one of Japan’s largest festivals celebrating the traditional summer garment, the yukata. The city comes alive with people wearing colorful yukatas, food stalls, and traditional games. Fireworks light up the night sky, adding to the festive atmosphere. It’s a vibrant cultural experience that showcases traditional Japanese summer celebrations.

10. Indulge in Himeji Cuisine

Himeji is known for its delicious local cuisine, including Himeji oden, a type of Japanese hot pot, and Himeji-yaki, a local style of grilled chicken. Seafood from the nearby Seto Inland Sea is also a must-try. Many restaurants near Himeji Castle offer traditional Japanese dishes. Don’t miss trying sake from one of the local breweries.

11. Shop at Miyuki Street

Miyuki Street is Himeji’s main shopping district, lined with a variety of stores selling clothes, accessories, and local specialties. The street has a lively atmosphere, with many cafés and restaurants where shoppers can take a break. It’s a great place to find souvenirs, such as Himeji leather crafts. The street is also beautifully illuminated in the evening.

12. See the Otokoyama Hachimangu Shrine

Otokoyama Hachimangu Shrine is known for its stunning cherry blossoms in spring and its panoramic views of Himeji. The shrine hosts several festivals throughout the year, including a famous archery event. It’s a peaceful spot for a stroll and offers a glimpse into Japanese religious practices. The climb to the shrine is steep but rewarding.

13. Explore Tegarayama Central Park

Tegarayama Central Park is a multifaceted park featuring botanical gardens, an amusement park, and sports facilities. The Tegarayama Botanical Garden includes a greenhouse with tropical and subtropical plants. It’s a lovely place for families to enjoy outdoor activities and relax in nature. The park also offers great views of Himeji Castle in the distance.

14. Visit the Japan Toy Museum

The Japan Toy Museum, located in a beautifully renovated school building, houses an extensive collection of traditional Japanese toys. The museum offers insights into the cultural significance of toys and play in Japan. Interactive exhibits allow visitors to try various traditional games. It’s a fascinating visit for both children and adults, highlighting the craftsmanship and creativity behind Japanese toys.

15. Discover Taiyo Park

Taiyo Park is a unique theme park featuring full-size replicas of famous world landmarks, including the Great Wall of China and the Pyramids of Giza. The park aims to provide an educational experience through its displays and exhibits. It’s an intriguing place for a leisurely walk, offering photo opportunities with iconic structures. Taiyo Park also includes a museum dedicated to the Meiji Restoration.

16. Enjoy the View from Himeji City Tower

Himeji City Tower offers a panoramic view of the city, including Himeji Castle and the surrounding landscape. The observation deck is a great spot to appreciate the city’s layout and beauty. It’s especially stunning at sunset and during cherry blossom season. The tower is located in a modern shopping and entertainment complex.

17. Participate in a Tea Ceremony at Soju-an

Soju-an is a traditional tea house offering authentic Japanese tea ceremony experiences. Located near Himeji Castle, it provides a serene setting to learn about the art of the tea ceremony. The experience includes wearing a kimono and learning the rituals associated with preparing and enjoying matcha. It’s a cultural immersion that allows visitors to experience an important aspect of Japanese culture.

18. Walk Through Senhime Peony Garden

Senhime Peony Garden is named after Princess Sen, a historical figure associated with Himeji Castle. The garden features a stunning collection of peonies, with blooms varying from season to season. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place for flower lovers. The garden’s layout and design reflect traditional Japanese garden aesthetics.

19. Explore the History of Himeji at the Himeji City Museum

The Himeji City Museum is dedicated to the history and culture of Himeji, featuring artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that tell the story of the city. The museum is housed in a historic building, adding to the ambiance. It offers a deeper understanding of Himeji’s development over the centuries. Special exhibitions focus on different aspects of local history and culture.

20. Attend the Himeji Castle Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival

The Cherry Blossom Viewing Festival at Himeji Castle is one of the most picturesque events in Japan. The castle, surrounded by thousands of cherry trees in full bloom, creates a stunning backdrop for the festivities. Visitors can enjoy traditional music, dance performances, and food stalls under the blossoms. It’s a quintessential Japanese spring experience.

21. Climb Mt. Shosha for Engyo-ji Temple

Mt. Shosha is home to Engyo-ji Temple, a serene temple complex with over 1,000 years of history. Visitors can reach the temple via ropeway or hiking trails. The temple’s buildings and statues are set amidst beautiful forested surroundings, offering a peaceful retreat. The area became internationally known after being featured in “The Last Samurai.”

22. Experience Himeji’s Nightlife at Sannomaru Square

Sannomaru Square is a popular spot for experiencing Himeji’s nightlife, with a variety of bars, restaurants, and izakayas. It’s a lively area where visitors can enjoy local food, drink sake, and meet locals. The square often hosts events and festivals, adding to the vibrant atmosphere. It’s a great place to experience the modern side of Himeji.

23. Visit the Himeji Literature Museum

The Himeji Literature Museum celebrates the literary heritage of Himeji and its surrounding region. The museum features exhibits on local authors and poets, showcasing their works and contributions to Japanese literature. It’s housed in a modern building with a library and reading spaces. The museum also hosts literary events, workshops, and talks.

24. Take a Day Trip to Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple

Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple offers a peaceful escape into nature and spirituality. The temple complex includes several impressive structures, meditation halls, and stunning views of the surrounding landscape. It’s an ideal destination for a day trip, combining cultural exploration with hiking. The temple provides a tranquil atmosphere for meditation and reflection.

25. Enjoy Seasonal Flowers at Himeji Arboretum

Himeji Arboretum is known for its collection of seasonal flowers, trees, and plants. The arboretum offers walking paths through beautifully landscaped areas, themed gardens, and greenhouses. It’s a lovely place for nature walks, photography, and learning about plant species. The arboretum is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.

26. Visit Igidani Gorge for Autumn Colors

Igidani Gorge is a scenic spot known for its spectacular autumn colors. The gorge offers hiking trails along the river, providing views of waterfalls, rock formations, and vibrant foliage. It’s a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers in autumn. The area’s natural beauty is a testament to Himeji’s diverse landscapes.

27. Explore the Himeji City Zoo

The Himeji City Zoo is a family-friendly attraction located near Himeji Castle. The zoo houses a variety of animals, including some endemic to Japan. It’s a great place for children to learn about animal conservation and biodiversity. The zoo also features a petting area and educational programs.

28. Admire the Architecture of Himeji Art Museum

The Himeji Art Museum is notable for its striking modern architecture and collection of contemporary art. The museum hosts rotating exhibitions of Japanese and international artists. Its design complements the artworks displayed within, creating a harmonious environment for art appreciation. The museum’s location near Himeji Castle offers a contrast between historic and contemporary Himeji.

29. Experience the Himeji Yukata Festival

The Himeji Yukata Festival is one of the largest of its kind in Japan, celebrating the traditional summer garment, the yukata. The festival features parades, dance performances, and a vibrant night market. It’s a colorful and lively event that showcases Japanese culture and fashion. Visitors are encouraged to wear yukata and join in the festivities.

30. Visit Otokoyama Hachiman Shrine

Otokoyama Hachiman Shrine is a historic shrine known for its stunning cherry blossoms and autumn foliage. The shrine hosts several festivals throughout the year, attracting locals and tourists alike. It’s a place of worship with a peaceful atmosphere, offering insights into Shinto practices. The shrine’s hilltop location provides panoramic views of Himeji.

31. Take a Cooking Class in Himeji Cuisine

Himeji offers cooking classes where visitors can learn to prepare local specialties, such as Himeji oden and sushi. It’s a hands-on way to experience Japanese cuisine and culture. Participants can enjoy the dishes they’ve prepared, gaining both culinary skills and a deeper appreciation for Japanese food. Cooking classes are available for various skill levels.

32. Explore the Himeji Port Marine Terminal

The Himeji Port Marine Terminal is a modern facility offering recreational activities, dining, and shopping. Visitors can enjoy boat tours around the port, providing views of the industrial landscape and Himeji Castle from the sea. The terminal’s design is noteworthy, featuring a sleek, contemporary look. It’s a great place to spend an evening, with restaurants offering fresh seafood and views of the sunset over the port.

33. Attend the Himeji Castle Noh Performance

Himeji Castle hosts traditional Noh theatre performances, offering a unique cultural experience. Noh is a classical Japanese musical drama known for its elaborate costumes, masks, and storytelling. Watching a performance in the historic setting of Himeji Castle is a memorable experience. The event provides a rare opportunity to see one of Japan’s oldest performing arts in an authentic setting.

Oden is worth trying for visitors to Himeji, Japan

What To Eat and Drink in Himeji, Japan

Here’s your travel guide to the must-try foods and drinks in Himeji, ensuring every meal enriches your journey through this historic city.

Himeji’s Culinary Highlights

1. Himeji Oden: A comfort food staple, Himeji’s version of the classic Japanese hot pot features a rich, soy-flavored broth and an assortment of ingredients like daikon radish, konnyaku, and boiled eggs. It’s a heartwarming dish, perfect for chilly evenings.

2. Conger Eel: Thanks to its proximity to the Seto Inland Sea, Himeji enjoys access to fresh seafood, with conger eel being a local favorite. Grilled and glazed with a sweet and savory sauce, it’s often served over rice as unadon.

3. Ikanago no Kugini: This traditional springtime delicacy involves tiny sand lance fish cooked in a sweet and salty mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and ginger. Ikanago no kugini is enjoyed as a side dish or a topping on rice.

4. Himeji Yakisoba: While yakisoba (fried noodles) is popular nationwide, Himeji puts its twist on this classic by using a special sauce and topping the noodles with a generous sprinkle of aonori (green seaweed powder) and beni shoga (pickled ginger).

Sweet Treats

5. Himeji Castle-shaped Sweets: Several local confectioneries create beautiful, castle-shaped sweets that not only taste delicious but also make for perfect souvenirs. These treats, often made from white bean paste, celebrate the city’s most famous landmark.

6. Matcha Delights: The Kansai region’s tea culture shines in Himeji through an array of matcha-infused sweets. From matcha ice cream to traditional wagashi (Japanese sweets) enjoyed during tea ceremonies, the rich, umami flavor of matcha is a highlight.

Local Beverages

7. Sake: Himeji’s breweries produce some exquisite sake, thanks to the high-quality rice and pure water of the region. Visiting a local brewery for a tasting session is a great way to experience the depth and variety of Japanese rice wine.

8. Harima Wines: The broader Harima area, which includes Himeji, is gaining recognition for its wines. Local wineries utilize grapes like muscat bailey A and chardonnay to create wines that are starting to make a mark on the international stage.

Casual Eats and Street Food

9. Butaman: These steamed buns filled with juicy pork and vegetables are a popular snack in Himeji. Available at street stalls and specialty shops, they’re perfect for a quick bite while exploring the city.

10. Tako Tamago: A quirky and beloved street food item, tako tamago is a small octopus with a quail egg in its head. It’s often served on a skewer and offers a unique taste experience that combines seafood and egg flavors.

Himeji park biking path and walking path in Japan

Tours For Visitors To Himeji, Japan

Here’s a comprehensive list of tours designed to help you discover the best of Himeji, ensuring a memorable and engaging experience in this storied Japanese city.

1. Himeji Castle Guided Tours

Dive deep into the history of Japan’s most exquisite feudal castle with a guided tour. Experts share fascinating stories of samurai bravery, architectural ingenuity, and the castle’s survival through the ages. The tour often includes visits to the Nishi-Oyashiki-Ato Garden and Kokoen Garden, providing a fuller picture of the castle’s historical context.

2. Koko-en Garden Walks

Experience the tranquility and beauty of traditional Japanese gardens with a guided walk through Koko-en, located adjacent to Himeji Castle. This tour highlights the design principles of Japanese gardens and the significance of each of the nine separately themed gardens within Koko-en, offering insights into Edo-period landscaping aesthetics.

3. Himeji Culinary Tours

Indulge in Himeji’s rich culinary scene with a tour focused on local cuisine. Sample regional specialties like Himeji oden, grilled conger eel, and the unique Ikanago no Kugini. These tours often include visits to local markets and hidden gem eateries, providing a taste of Himeji’s food culture.

4. Engyo-ji Temple Excursions

Venture to the serene Engyo-ji Temple on Mount Shosha, a site famous for its appearance in the film “The Last Samurai.” This tour typically involves a cable car ride up the mountain, followed by a guided exploration of the temple’s expansive grounds, ancient structures, and breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

5. Cycling Tours around Himeji

Explore Himeji’s picturesque landscapes and lesser-known attractions on a cycling tour. These tours offer a refreshing way to see the city and its outskirts, including lush rice fields, local neighborhoods, and scenic spots along the Seto Inland Sea, with routes tailored for various fitness levels.

6. Himeji Brewery and Sake Tasting Tours

Discover the delicate art of sake brewing with a visit to one of Himeji’s local breweries. Learn about the sake-making process, from rice selection to fermentation, and enjoy a tasting session that showcases the unique flavors of Japanese rice wine.

7. Traditional Crafts Workshops

Engage in hands-on experiences with workshops dedicated to traditional Japanese crafts. Options in Himeji might include pottery making, calligraphy, or indigo dyeing, offering a deeper connection to Japan’s artisanal heritage and the chance to create your own souvenir.

8. Himeji Night Tours

Experience a different side of Himeji with a guided night tour. Explore the illuminated city streets, visit popular local hangouts, and enjoy the magical view of Himeji Castle lit up against the night sky, providing a memorable end to your day.

9. Historical Walks through Himeji’s Samurai District

Take a step back in time with a guided walk through Himeji’s well-preserved samurai district. Learn about the daily lives of samurai families, the architecture of their residences, and the enduring legacy of Japan’s warrior class.

10. Seasonal Festival Tours

Immerse yourself in local culture by participating in a tour centered around Himeji’s seasonal festivals. Whether it’s the cherry blossom viewing in spring or the autumn festival, these tours offer a unique opportunity to celebrate with locals and experience traditional festivities.

Himeji nature path in Japan

Himeji Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Here’s our travel guide to some of the best accommodations in Himeji, catering to a range of preferences and budgets.

Luxury Hotels

1. Hotel Nikko Himeji: Situated conveniently across from Himeji Station, this hotel offers easy access to the city’s main attractions. With spacious rooms, multiple dining options, and a fitness center, it provides a comfortable and luxurious stay.

2. Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji: A modern hotel located a short walk from the castle, offering contemporary rooms with stunning views of the city and the castle. Its amenities include a restaurant serving local and international cuisine and a well-equipped gym.

Mid-Range Options

3. Comfort Hotel Himeji: Offering a blend of comfort and value, this hotel is just a few minutes from Himeji Station. Guests can enjoy complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and cozy rooms, making it an excellent base for exploring the city.

4. Himeji Castle Grandvrio Hotel: Located within walking distance to Himeji Castle, this hotel features traditional Japanese-style rooms and Western rooms, catering to various preferences. The on-site onsen is perfect for relaxation after a day of sightseeing.

Budget-Friendly Stays

5. Himeji 588 Guesthouse: A charming guesthouse offering a homey atmosphere with both private rooms and dormitories. It’s an ideal choice for budget travelers and those looking to meet fellow travelers.

6. Engyoji Temple Lodging (Shukubo): For a unique experience, stay at the temple lodgings on Mount Shosha. It offers traditional Japanese accommodation and the opportunity to participate in temple activities, providing a peaceful retreat from the city.


7. Himeji Guesthouse Hideout: A cozy and friendly hostel located in the heart of Himeji. It provides dormitory beds and private rooms, a communal kitchen, and a lounge area, making it a favorite among backpackers and solo travelers.

Boutique and Unique Options

8. Hotel Monterey Himeji: This boutique hotel, inspired by European design, stands out for its unique architecture and interior. Located close to the train station, it offers easy access to the city’s attractions and a comfortable stay with a touch of elegance.

Traditional Ryokans

9. Shiori: Experience authentic Japanese hospitality at this ryokan, where you can enjoy traditional tatami rooms, futon bedding, and kaiseki meals prepared with local ingredients. It’s a short drive from Himeji Castle, offering a tranquil escape with a cultural immersion.

Family-Friendly Accommodations

10. APA Hotel Himeji-Ekikita: With its convenient location near Himeji Station and spacious rooms, this hotel is a great option for families. The hotel offers modern amenities and easy access to public transport, making it simple to explore Himeji and its surroundings.

Tottori is a day trip option for visitors to Hikone, Japan

Day Trips From Himeji, Japan

Here’s a selection of day trips from Himeji that showcase the diversity and allure of the Kansai area and beyond.

1. Kobe

Just a short train ride away, Kobe offers a blend of cosmopolitan flair and natural beauty. Visit the Ikuta Shrine, one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, and stroll through the vibrant Chinatown. Don’t miss the panoramic views of the city and Osaka Bay from Kobe’s Nunobiki Herb Garden and Ropeway. Kobe’s renowned beef is a culinary must-try, perfectly grilled in many of the city’s restaurants.

2. Okayama

Known for the beautiful Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s three great gardens, Okayama is a haven of tranquility. Explore Okayama Castle, also known as “Crow Castle,” for its distinctive black exterior, located just beside the garden. The historic Bikan district in Kurashiki, with its preserved Edo-period streets, is perfect for leisurely strolls. Okayama is also famous for its delicious peaches, a sweet treat not to be missed.

3. Tottori

Famous for the Tottori Sand Dunes, Japan’s largest sand dunes offer a unique landscape that feels worlds away from the usual urban or mountainous scenery of Japan. Enjoy camel rides or sandboarding for an adventurous experience. The Sand Museum nearby displays intricate sand sculptures by artists from around the world. Tottori’s coastline, along the Sea of Japan, provides fresh seafood delicacies, making it a great spot for foodies.

4. Naoshima

Naoshima, the “art island,” is a bit further afield but worth the journey for art and architecture enthusiasts. The island features numerous contemporary art museums, installations, and sculptures, including the iconic yellow pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. Explore the Benesse House Museum, combining a museum with a hotel, designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. Naoshima’s tranquil setting and artistic atmosphere provide a peaceful retreat.

5. Kurashiki

Kurashiki’s historic Bikan district, with its beautifully preserved canals and white-walled storehouses, offers a glimpse into Japan’s past. The Ohara Museum of Art, the first museum of Western art in Japan, houses an impressive collection. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride on the Kurashiki Canal to fully appreciate the charm of the area. Local cafes and shops along the canal offer delightful breaks to sample regional snacks and crafts.

6. Takamatsu

Located on Shikoku Island, Takamatsu is accessible by train and ferry and is known for Ritsurin Garden, one of Japan’s most beautiful historical gardens. The city’s waterfront, with its modern art installations and views of the Seto Inland Sea, is perfect for an evening stroll. Takamatsu is also the gateway to the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima. The local specialty, Sanuki udon, is renowned for its chewy texture and delicious broth.

7. Awaji Island

Accessible via the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world’s longest suspension bridge, Awaji Island offers natural beauty and cultural experiences. Visit the Naruto Whirlpools at the island’s northern tip, best viewed from a boat tour or the Uzunomichi Walkway. The Awaji Island Onion Kitchen showcases the island’s famous sweet onions in various dishes. Explore the Awaji Yumebutai, a complex of gardens and architectural marvels designed by Tadao Ando.

8. Ako

Famous for its samurai history and the tale of the 47 Ronin, Ako offers a rich cultural experience. Visit Ako Castle ruins and the Oishi Shrine, dedicated to the leader of the 47 Ronin, to learn more about this famous story of loyalty and revenge. Ako’s Onsen district, with its saltwater hot springs, offers relaxation with a view of the Seto Inland Sea. Don’t leave without trying Ako’s salt, a local specialty used in various Japanese dishes.

9. Mt. Shosha

Just a short bus ride from Himeji, Mt. Shosha is home to the ancient Engyo-ji Temple, a serene mountain temple complex with over 1,000 years of history. The temple grounds and surrounding forest offer peaceful hiking trails. Fans of “The Last Samurai” will recognize the temple as a filming location. The mountain provides stunning views over Himeji and the surrounding countryside.

10. Arima Onsen

One of Japan’s oldest hot spring towns, Arima Onsen offers a relaxing day trip to soak in its famous gold and silver thermal waters. Stroll through the charming town, visit traditional ryokans, and sample local delicacies like Arima manju (sweet buns). The town is nestled in the scenic Rokko Mountain range, offering beautiful views and nature walks. Arima Onsen is a perfect blend of relaxation, nature, and tradition.

Himeji wall autumn colors in Japan

Himeji Transportation Guide

Whether you’re exploring the city’s iconic castle, indulging in local cuisine, or setting off on day trips, understanding your transportation options is key. Here’s a comprehensive guide to getting around Himeji and beyond.

Getting to Himeji

By Train: Himeji is easily accessible by train, including the Shinkansen (bullet train), making it a convenient stop for travelers coming from Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and other major cities. The city’s main hub, Himeji Station, is well-served by both JR (Japan Railways) lines and the Sanyo Shinkansen line.

By Bus: Long-distance buses connect Himeji with various parts of Japan. The bus terminal is located near Himeji Station, offering an affordable alternative to trains, especially for travelers coming from regions not served by the Shinkansen.

Exploring Himeji

On Foot: Himeji’s compact city center is best explored on foot, particularly the area around Himeji Castle and the surrounding gardens. Many of Himeji’s attractions, including shopping streets and local eateries, are within walking distance of the main train station.

By Bicycle: Renting a bicycle is a great way to explore Himeji at your own pace. Bike rental services are available near Himeji Station, allowing you to discover hidden gems and enjoy the city’s scenic beauty with ease.

By Taxi: Taxis are readily available in Himeji and offer a convenient option for direct travel to specific destinations. They can be hailed on the street, found at taxi stands, especially near the train station, or booked in advance.

By Bus: The Himeji City Loop Bus, known as “Shinki Bus,” is an affordable and convenient way to navigate the city. It connects Himeji Station with major attractions, including Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden. For exploring areas outside the city center, a network of local and regional buses is available.

Day Trips from Himeji

By Train: The JR lines provide efficient connections from Himeji to nearby cities and attractions, including Kobe, Okayama, and Kurashiki. For destinations further afield, like Kyoto and Osaka, the Shinkansen offers quick and comfortable travel.

By Bus: For some destinations not directly served by train or where scenic routes are preferred, intercity buses offer an alternative. Bus services can be particularly useful for visiting natural attractions and hot spring resorts in the region.

By Rental Car: Renting a car gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace, making it ideal for visiting rural areas, national parks, and attractions that are off the beaten path. Car rental agencies are available in Himeji, and an international driving permit is required for foreign drivers.

Travel Tips

  • Japan Rail Pass: For international visitors planning extensive travel by train, the Japan Rail Pass offers unlimited use of JR trains nationwide for a fixed period, including most Shinkansen lines.
  • IC Cards: For convenience on public transit within Himeji and across Japan, consider using a rechargeable IC card like ICOCA or SUICA. These cards can be used on buses, trains, and even some taxis, simplifying fares and transfers.
  • Stay Informed: Check schedules and routes in advance, especially when planning day trips or travel during peak periods and holidays, to ensure smooth connections and avoid delays.

Matsue is a place to visit after Himeji, Japan

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Himeji?

Here’s a thoughtfully curated list of destinations for your next adventure after Himeji, each offering its own unique blend of attractions and experiences.

1. Kyoto

Just a short train ride from Himeji, Kyoto, the heart of traditional Japan, awaits with its 1,000+ temples, vibrant geisha district in Gion, and tranquil Zen gardens. Don’t miss the iconic Fushimi Inari Shrine and its thousand Torii gates. The historic Arashiyama district, with its famous bamboo grove, offers a picturesque escape. Kyoto’s culinary scene, from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants, showcases the best of Japanese cuisine.

2. Osaka

Known for its dynamic food scene, Osaka entices travelers with street food staples like takoyaki and okonomiyaki. The city’s bustling atmosphere is epitomized in the neon-lit Dotonbori district. Osaka Castle provides a historical counterpoint to the urban energy, set in a sprawling park with plum and cherry blossom trees. The city is also a gateway to Universal Studios Japan, making it a hit with families and pop culture enthusiasts alike.

source: Samuel and Audrey on YouTube

3. Nara

As Japan’s first permanent capital, Nara is steeped in history, with Todai-ji Temple housing the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue. Nara Park is famous for its freely roaming deer, considered messengers of the gods. The lantern-lined paths of Kasuga Taisha Shrine offer a peaceful retreat. Nara’s quaint backstreets and traditional teahouses provide a glimpse into a slower-paced Japan.

4. Kobe

Just a stone’s throw from Himeji, Kobe is a cosmopolitan port city known for its signature marbled beef. The city’s scenic harbor area, Meriken Park, and the vibrant Chinatown are perfect for exploring. Take a cable car up Mount Rokko for breathtaking views of the city and Osaka Bay. The Earthquake Memorial Museum offers a poignant look at the city’s resilience following the 1995 disaster.

5. Hiroshima

Accessible by shinkansen, Hiroshima invites reflection with its Peace Memorial Park and Museum, commemorating the tragic atomic bombing. A short ferry ride takes you to Miyajima Island, where the iconic floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine awaits. Hiroshima’s culinary scene is famed for okonomiyaki, a savory pancake you can enjoy at many local eateries. The city serves as a poignant reminder of peace and resilience.

6. Takayama

Nestled in the Japanese Alps, Takayama is known for its well-preserved old town and biannual Takayama Festival. Sample Hida beef, a local delicacy, and explore traditional sake breweries. The nearby Shirakawa-go with its gassho-zukuri farmhouses offers a glimpse into rural Japanese life. Takayama provides a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

7. Kanazawa

Kanazawa features beautifully preserved samurai and geisha districts, along with the Kenrokuen Garden, one of Japan’s top three gardens. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art offers a modern contrast with its innovative exhibits. Enjoy fresh seafood from the Sea of Japan at the Omicho Market. Kanazawa’s rich craft heritage, including gold leaf and Kaga yuzen silk dyeing, is on full display in its shops and studios.

8. Okayama

Famed for Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens, Okayama also boasts the imposing black Okayama Castle. The nearby Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, with its scenic canals and traditional storehouses, offers a charming stroll. Okayama is renowned for its fruits, particularly peaches, which can be savored in various local desserts. The city serves as a gateway to the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima.

9. Matsue

Matsue, known as the “City of Water,” is famous for its original feudal castle, one of the few remaining in Japan. The city is crisscrossed by picturesque canals, best enjoyed on a leisurely boat tour. Experience a traditional tea ceremony at the Meimei-an Tea House. Matsue’s location by Lake Shinji makes it a great spot for enjoying sunset views and local Shimane Prefecture seafood.

10. Awaji Island

Linked to the mainland by the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Awaji Island offers a mix of natural, culinary, and cultural attractions. Explore the Naruto whirlpools, visit the Awaji Yumebutai gardens, and enjoy onion-based dishes, a local specialty. The island’s puppet theater presents traditional performances. Awaji’s scenic beauty and relaxed pace make it an ideal destination for those looking to unwind.

Himeji Castle Grounds in Japan

Himeji Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

And just like that, our journey through the enchanting streets of Himeji and the majestic presence of its iconic castle comes to a close. But the memories? They’re just beginning to settle in, painting our minds with images of towering white walls, tranquil gardens, and the taste of local delicacies that left us wanting more. Himeji, with its blend of historical grandeur and welcoming modernity, has offered us a glimpse into the soul of Japan—a place where the past is cherished, and the present is lived with equal reverence. Let’s take a moment to reflect on what makes Himeji a jewel in Japan’s cultural and historical landscape.

The Castle That Captured Our Hearts

A Timeless Beacon: Himeji Castle, with its imposing beauty and intricate defenses, didn’t just tell us stories of samurai and sieges; it showed us the resilience and artistry of Japan’s feudal era. Walking through its corridors and climbing its towers was like stepping back in time, each step revealing a new layer of history and legend.

Culinary Delights and Local Treats

A Feast for the Senses: Our culinary journey through Himeji introduced us to flavors we’ll long remember. From the savory complexity of Himeji oden to the fresh, delicate taste of conger eel and the sweet indulgence of castle-shaped sweets, every meal was a celebration of the region’s rich bounty and culinary craftsmanship.

Beyond the Castle Walls

Discoveries Around Every Corner: Himeji surprised us with more than just its famous castle. The serene beauty of Koko-en Garden, the spiritual tranquility of Engyo-ji Temple on Mount Shosha, and the bustling charm of the city’s shopping streets and markets all contributed to a rich tapestry of experiences that define Himeji’s unique character.

Parting Thoughts

So, here’s to Himeji—a city that may not dominate the usual travel headlines but quietly steals the hearts of those who venture through its streets and pathways.

Himeji sea views in Japan

Ode To Himeji

In Himeji’s embrace, travelers find delight, A city steeped in history, an enchanting sight. Himeji Castle, towering and grand, Ancient tales whispered, as time’s grains of sand.

Kokoen Garden, a tranquil retreat, With blossoms and ponds, where nature’s rhythm beats. Otemae Street, bustling and alive, A tapestry of flavors, where tastes thrive.

Mount Shosha beckons, a spiritual climb, Engyo-ji Temple, a haven sublime. Through its gates, serenity unfolds, Whispers of wisdom, the soul gently molds.

From Himeji, venture to distant lands, Kobe’s vibrant harbor, where joy expands. Kyoto’s temples, a timeless allure, And Hiroshima’s resilience, a story pure.

In Himeji’s essence, beauty thrives, A symphony of culture that forever strives. Let its whispers of history guide your way, As you explore and create memories each day.

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