At a glance
Just an hour ride by bullet train or one and a half hour train ride by JR express from Kyoto, you will arrive at Himeji famous for perfectly preserved castle. Himeji castle was inscribed as the World Heritage in 1993 as one of Japan's first cultural sites. Even if it is the first time for you to visit the city of Himeji, you may have encountered a few places through the screen without noticing it. Many great movies such as "You Only Live Twice" of the 007series featuring Sean Connery or "Kagemusha" and "Ran" directed by Akira Kurosawa were filmed at Himeji Castle . Also, Engyoji Temple at Mt. Shosha appeared in "Last Samurai" featuring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe. How about taking some time to actually see the places that appeared in famous movies and feel the magnificence of Himeji.
Himeji Castle built in the early 17th century, has kept its original design at the time of construction. Stone walls, gates, turrets, and moats still survive today. Covered with white plaster, its appearance is so elegant that the castle has been compared to a white bird, egret, flying off the sky.
As you walk through the castle ground, you will notice that there are quite a number of gates until you reach the main castle keep. You can also see that the stone walls are beautifully curved. The lower part of the wall has a gentle slope, but it becomes steeper toward the top. These are just a few structures of Himeji Castle to defend against invaders. It is interesting to walk through the castle with this point of view. Various means of fortification can be found in the castle.
Note: Until around March 2014, renovation is being implemented on the castle's main tower. During the period, visitors cannot enter some of the areas and cannot take the same castle view as it was before due to scaffolds. Instead, you can look at unique renovation works.
Located at the south-west end of Himeji Castle compound, Kokoen is composed of nine various sized Japanese gadens. You can enjoy seasonal changes in the gardens with flowers, trees, bamboos and experience tea ceremony at the tea house Sojuan. Watching Himeji Castle across the beautiful garden is another way to enjoy the historic building.
Using a ropeway gondola, you will arrive at a training center of Tendai sect located on a quiet and peaceful mountain. Engyoji temple was founded in 966 and is a notable pilgrimage site. The main building Maniden is built on a steep rocky hill and you can enjoy a magnificent scenery from the elevated platform.
If you are with a group of more than five persons, try the lenen fare (vegetarian cuisine) at Juryoin for lunch. This lunch is a reproduction of what was eaten at Engyoji Temple in the old days. It is served in beautiful lacquer coated red dishes called "Shosha-nuri". The vegetarian lunch can be enjoyed from April to November and you will need reservation. (not served on Thursdays)