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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

History

Himeji Castle 姫路城

The best-preserved castle in Japan

Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, is both a Japanese National Treasure and a World Heritage Site. Its status as one of Japan's 12 remaining original castles makes this fortress a must for anyone wanting to explore the history of Japan.

Don't Miss:

  • The more than 1000 cherry trees in the castle's grounds and bloom spectacularly each spring
  • The 400-year-old, six-storey castle keep, the pride of Japan
  • The Edo period-style Kokoen gardens beautifully encapsulate Japan's changing seasons

How to Get There

Himeji Castle is one kilometer down Otemae-dori street from the north exit of Himeji Station. The castle can be reached in a 15-to-20-minute walk or a five-minute ride by bus from the station.

600 years of history

Himeji Castle dates back over 600 years. Chosen as a strategic defense point to the west of Kyoto, the first set of fortifications was built sometime in the 1400s. The present castle complex was completed in 1609 under the supervision of daimyo Lord Ikeda Terumasa and is made up of over 80 buildings connected by a series of labyrinth-like winding paths.

Free to enter, to a point

Otemon Gate is the main gate into Himeji Castle, and allows access to the admission-free part of the castle — the tertiary outer bailey known as San-no-maru. This part of the castle has a wide lawn with a number of cherry trees and is popular in spring for cherry blossom picnics.

The main keep

Through the Hishi Gate is the paid portion of the castle. After buying a ticket (1000 yen) from the ticket booth near the gate, visitors can enter the narrow lanes of the inner castle and walk up to the six-storey main keep.

It is possible to climb the keep to the top floor. The floors get progressively smaller as you ascend and are sparsely furnished aside from a few signs explaining the most important architectural and defensive features of the castle.

On the top floor of the castle is a small shrine and view points that allow visitors to look over Himeji Castle and outwards to the city. In Japanese, the castle style is referred to as "a hill castle looking out across a plain."

Within the paid area of the castle, it is also possible to visit the west bailey — the nishi-no-maru — which has great views of the main keep.

Cherry blossoms

Over 1000 cherry trees can be found in the castle's grounds. The blossoms are free to see in the outer grounds, but a fee is required if you'd like to see the inner castle grounds' blooms.

While the castle is arguably at its best during sakura cherry blossom season, it is also at its most crowded. Hundreds of locals and tourists descend upon the castle for picnics and to take photos of the blossoms.

If you are not a fan of huge crowds and want to see the castle more peacefully, it is perhaps best avoided during peak blossom season. Tickets to enter the main keep of the castle may also be limited during this period.

Himeji Castle Garden

Kokoen is a Japanese garden next to Himeji Castle. It consists of nine separate walled gardens designed in various styles of the Edo Period. The gardens were opened in 1992 to commemorate the centenary of Himeji city.

Boat rides

Only one of Himeji's three original moats survives intact to this day. Known as goku-bori, or the inner moat, it is possible to take a boat ride along the moat if you visit the castle on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays. The rides cost 1000 yen, and there are usually 10 rides per day. To access the moat, you must first go through Hishi gate.

Recently restored

After a five-year project that started in 2010, Himeji Castle was fully reopened to the public on March 27, 2015. The castle has been gloriously restored and is looking better than ever.

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