I’ve been wanting to visit Himeji castle ever since I was planning my first trip to Japan, but at that point it was undergoing a huge renovation and was covered in scaffolding. This time we were travelling down to Hiroshima from Tokyo which is a 4 hour trip, so stopping off at Himeji was a great way to break up the journey and see the grand, newly renovated Japanese castle in all its glory.
We enjoyed our Shinkansen Ekiben and eventually arrived in Himeji where we found lockers for our bags in the station. Then we had about a kilometre walk to the castle along a straight road. The castle is visible from the train station so is very easy to find. You can even hire bikes for free at the tourist information office (in the station), but we decided to just walk so we didn’t have to think about locking them up etc.
A lot of Japanese towns and tourist sites have their own cute character and we started seeing the Himeji character popping up on maps and signs on our way to the castle – isn’t she cute?!
The castle itself if amazing; its grand, bright white structure sits atop a hill and can be seen for miles around. We bought a combined ticket to go into both the castle grounds and the neighbouring Kokoen garden which works out cheaper than buying them separately. You can actually go into the castle and climb to the top to see a fantastic view over Himeji (the steps are quite steep). It was really interesting to learn about how the castle was defended too and how the curved walls were built to withstand attacks.
After we had walked around the castle and taken plenty of photos and selfies, we went to see the beautiful Kokoen garden. Rather than one big garden, it is split out into lots of different smaller gardens each with its own theme. It made it feel much more intimate and actually quite romantic because you don’t see as many people.
It was definitely the perfect way to break up the journey before getting back on the train to Hiroshima and well worth it!