Day Trip to Himeji - Waku Waku

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Day Trip to Himeji

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Day Trip to Himeji

If you find yourself in Kansai, Himeji is a great day trip destination you won't regret taking the time out to visit

Eren Gudny

Eren Gudny

Published on 08 Feb, 12:00

There's a surprising number of things to do in Himeji, especially for a culture lover. From Osaka Station, you can get there in a little over an hour for about 1,500 yen. And it's worth the trip.

The first place I visited when I arrived in Himeji at around ten in the morning was the Himeji City Visitor Center inside the station. Those are always little treasure troves of information!

As I browsed the various pamphlets describing things to do and see in Himeji, an elderly man offered to be my guide in Himeji, completely for free. I politely declined his offer as I was a little awkward and wanted to spend some time alone, but you should know that the option is there.

White Heron Castle

It looks small from a distance, but don't be fooled
It looks small from a distance, but don't be fooled
Now, Himeji is most famous for housing the UNESCO World Heritage Site Himeji Castle, which should not be missed on your visit

It's only a 15-20 minutes walk from the station. You can catch the bus from the station, although I'd hardly recommend it. The walk up to the castle is a nice stroll to familiarise yourself with the city as well as a chance to get a snack from any of the street food vendors stationed outside.

Himeji Castle is notable for being the best-preserved castle in Japan. Colloquially, it's sometimes called the "White Heron Castle" in Japanese (shirasagijo) because of its appearance.

Its first model was built in 1333 and it has since been rebuilt and expanded several times. Having survived both a war bombing and the Great Hanshin earthquake of '95, its current condition is quite impressive. It's considered one of Japan's three premier castles.

This is the biggest castle I've seen in Japan. And I've seen, like, at least three
This is the biggest castle I've seen in Japan. And I've seen, like, at least three

A ticket to Himeji Castle costs 1000 yen, but I recommend getting the combined ticket at 1050 yen, which grants you access to the nearby Kokoen Garden (just wait until you see the pictures).

The tour around the castle is quite the trek, so make sure to bring enough water on a hot day. You get to see many amazing sights there, so it's definitely recommended to go. Check out the castle grounds and climb to the top and check out the view of Himeji city. It's majestic.

The walk took me about one hour, but I was by myself and going at a fairly quick pace, so it's recommended to allocate a couple of hours to this trip, especially if you're bringing children.

If you go in spring (like I did), you can settle down outside the castle for a hanami (cherry blossom viewing) picnic or promenade through the trees.

Kokoen Garden

Cherry blossom trees
Cherry blossom trees

After you're done at the castle, Kokoen Garden is just a short walk away. It's a stunning little place to see to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy castle. It has some gorgeous gardening work to boast. I truly felt at peace while I walked through it.

Kokoen Garden
Kokoen Garden

Now, if you manage to get through all of that in the early hours, it's time for lunch. There are lots of street food stalls outside the castle, and you might want to opt for that if you want to see more of that area (like the Himeji City Museum of Literature or Harima no kuni Souja Itatehyozu Shrine).

This garden is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. So tranquil.
This garden is one of the most beautiful places I've seen. So tranquil.

I, however, headed back into town to try Himeji's specialty food: Eel

The place I went was a neat little restaurant that offered a variety set, so I got to try eel prepared in many different ways.

There are also some izakayas (bar-type restaurants) around that serve up both eel and Himeji sake. And let me tell you - eel is amazing! I especially enjoyed the deep-fried eel dipped in sea salt (just, wow).

Eel variety set. Delicious!
Eel variety set. Delicious!

There's still a lot of things to do in Himeji, but if you've only got one day, those are my recommendations. I'm aching to go back and explore it more. This truly is a hidden gem that a lot of people miss on their journey through Japan.

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