The cozy little town of Himeji is perhaps best known for its Shirasagijo Castle, said to be the most beautiful in all of Japan. The city has also acted as props for numerous Japanese, as well as foreign movies, due to its picturesque and ancient Japanese architecture. The film The Last Samurai is just one of many. Here you will also find an abundance of temples, restaurants and shopping. The further north you go, the quieter and more rural the atmosphere becomes.
Shirasagijo, White Heron Castle or Himeji Castle. Yes, dear child has many names. This castle is known for its elegance, impressive size and well-preserved castle garden. The castle is a national treasure and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Unlike many of Japan’s castles, Shirasagijo has not been destroyed by war, earthquakes or floods and remains beautifully in its former glory. The castle consists of 80 buildings distributed in different castle yards with winding beautiful paths between them. Of course, there is also an oasis here with beautiful Japanese cherry trees.
The city of Himeji is a pro at cozy and quiet places. The pleasant city park Koko-en is no exception. The beautiful park was constructed as late as the 90s, but the buildings and gardens are still in the style of the ancient Japanese Edo period. The park is divided into nine different gardens with rippling ponds, waterfalls and a tea garden with associated tea house. There is also a garden with only pine trees, one with bamboo and one with beautiful flower arrangements. In addition, the park overlooks Himeji Castle. Don’t miss stopping at the historic restaurants and enjoy a bowl of local ramen soup.
On top of the 371 meter high Mount Shosha is the Engyoji temple complex. The temple consists of several different wooden buildings scattered among the vegetal atmosphere of the peak. Due to the absence of modern infrastructure and the beautiful surrounding forest landscape, several films have been shot at the location. Among other things, the film The Last Samurai. The mountain is located about 30 minutes from the center of Himeji and is easily reached by bus. If you don’t want to walk up, there is a cable car all the way up to the temple area. This is a really cool area that really showcases Japan’s rich culture.
Right in the center of Himeji is a genuine safari park. Here you can either walk around or drive side by side with giraffes, lions, wildebeests and elephants. In addition to the safari, there is an amusement park here with several different carousels. In the summer you can take a dip in the pole, and in the winter the park offers ice skating. Don’t miss the elephant cafe, where you can enjoy an ice cream or a cup of coffee and look at the animals that wander around right next door. This is an adventure for both young and old. Price and opening hours vary depending on the season and what you want to do in the park.
If you’re into art, head to the Himeji Art Museum. Housed in a large red brick building, paintings by French artists such as Monet, Matisse, Corot and Rouault are hidden. There is also a sculpture garden, a collection gallery and a large collection of weapons, photographs and paintings from ancient Himeji. The special red building was originally a military storage warehouse, but has housed a museum since the 80s. Nowadays, the building is registered as a tangible, cultural property by the Japanese government.
Would you like to travel around the world in less than an hour? How lucky! The Japanese are professionals at finding new ways to experience the world. Here in Taiyo Park, in a relatively remote and rural area of Himeji, is a large park that displays replicas of famous landmarks, monuments and buildings from around the world. The Terracotta Army of China, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Bavarian Castle, the Great Wall of China, the Statue of Liberty and the Arc de Triomphe are just a selection of the miniature replicas that you can visit in less than an hour. The park was created by a Japanese philanthropist with the aim of helping and pleasing people in need. The park is run by staff and residents of a nursing home that is right next door. The park is not particularly well maintained but it is definitely worth a visit.
Right in the center of Himeji is Himeji Zoo. The zoo opened back in 1951 to celebrate the peace treaty held in San Francisco, where Japan was recognized as independent. Here in the park there are around 400 animals and 100 different species. The park is divided into four different animal enclosures where you can see reptiles, small animals and interact with the animals. Wander around and say hello to Asian elephants, polar bears, cat bears and hippos overlooking Himeji’s famous castle.
Japan’s Toy Museum is absolutely insane. With an impressive collection of over 90,000 objects, the museum is among the largest in the country. The museum is divided into different sections. Here you can find everything from old and handmade Japanese toys to modern action figures from all over the world. Perhaps best known are the Japanese wooden and paper dolls that bear witness to a bygone era. This place is a must visit and suitable for all ages.
This exciting historical museum opened with the aim of deepening the understanding of local history and promoting education and culture. The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History has dedicated an entire room to Himeji Castle, where small-scale models and floor plans show the construction of the castle and the surrounding city. In another room, the history of the Hyogo region is displayed with several famous temples and statues. There is also an experience room where you can get close to history “for real”. A very exciting destination for history buffs.
About a 30-minute boat ride from the port of Himeji is the island complex of the Ieshima Islands. The islands are close together in the middle of the beautiful Seto Naikai Inland Sea. The name Ieshima means “home islands” in Swedish. It is said that Japan’s first emperor described the islands with the words. “So quiet that it feels like home”. Check with your local guide which tour suits you best. Depending on which island you choose to go to, white sandy beaches, thriving fishing ports, rustic houses and really good food straight from the sea are promised. Don’t miss a visit to the island that holds a temple called Bentejima, or pass by Dongamessan – a giant rock representing a turtle.
Isn’t there a city in Japan that doesn’t contain an aquarium? Japan is known for its fine fish, although usually in the form of food. Here at Himeji Aquarium there are both turtles and penguins. A very welcome and fun feature if you are traveling with children. The aquarium is located on top of a mountain and is also sometimes called the mountain aquarium.
The Ichijo-Ji temple is located about 35 minutes by bus from the center of Himeji. The beautiful temple boasts the title of Japan’s oldest temple building. It was already founded in 650 by the then emperor Kutsokus. The temple is of Buddhist origin and belongs to the Tendai sect. A steep climb up a number of stone steps is required to reach the temple gate. Therefore, it is appropriate to bring a little extra good condition and a jug of water. However, you won’t be disappointed because this place is something out of the ordinary. Almost so that even the most non-religious get something religious in their eyes.
The temple is also the filming location for the movie “Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple”.
The beautiful Tatsuno Castle sits high on a hill overlooking the old Tatsuno City district. The original castle is over 500 years old, but only walls and ruins remain. Nowadays, the castle is reconstructed and free for everyone to visit. Definitely don’t miss wandering around the castle garden where a kind of ancient Japanese atmosphere seems to exist. Narrow streets, old samurai houses, temples and cherry trees blend in with the castle’s shape and create a genuine feeling. The castle is located about 15 km from Himeji’s city center and easily accessible by bus.
If you love Japanese books and literature, a visit to the Himeji City Museum of Literature is definitely preferable. This cool and modern museum building was created by a world-famous architect and will be a nice addition to the history of the contents. Among other things, the museum contains books and literature describing Himeji Castle and its history, as well as more modern exhibits and stories about contemporary authors.
If you’re up for some rock climbing and a nice view, head 304 meters up to the top of Mount Takamikura. The mountain offers around 30 different hiking trails that are suitable for both beginners and professionals. Along the road there is everything from mountain cherries and azaleas, to bamboo lilies and beautiful trees. Despite its height, the top is reached in half an hour’s hike – if you take the easy route, of course. Once at the top, you are greeted by the beautiful Takamikura Temple and a 360-degree panoramic view of the city. It’s certainly worth a few drops of sweat on your forehead for the feeling of standing on top of the world.
Don’t worry, we got you covered with the most important information below.
Himeji does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport (UKB) and is located 52 km from Himeji.
Address : 1 Kobekuko, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0048, Japan
Phone: +81 78-304-7777
You don’t have to worry about holding tight to your valuables or walking around with larger sums of cash. Japanese are a very loyal and well-behaved people with very few thieves and the like. Watching younger children ride the subway by themselves home from school alone is not an uncommon sight to see in Japan. Of course, there are everywhere, but Japan has very few of them.
Order a JR pass if you plan to move to other cities. If you are only going to be in Osaka, you can do well to pay for your transport at a time. But most visitors take a week in Tokyo and then move on to Kyoto, Osaka and other popular cities. These train distances are quite expensive without JR passes, we therefeore recommend getting one before your departure to Japan. Getjrpass.com is an official ravel agent and seller of these Japan Rail Passes with no middle man.
The metro is well-functioning and cheap – a recommended means of transport. Tickets are very easily purchased by machine on site before entering or via pre-loaded Suica card. Most distances are combined with JR lines and Metro lines to reach your destination in the city.
Suica card – a fantastic IC card that can be preloaded with money to easily blip beverage machines, subway and other machines for a cashless and fast payment. Alternative to the card is Icoca Card & Pasmo Card.
Taxis are everywhere, but are quite expensive. The metro is so functional that Taxi is not needed.
The city has lots of beautiful parks. Enjoy good food and take it easy, enjoy your visit to Japan.
Japan uses Japanese Yen – JPY.
We recommend a smaller exchange before the trip at Forex or another currency exchanger to be able to pay for transport from the airport if you have decided to activate your Japan Rail Pass at a later date, for food and drink on site upon arrival and so on.
Safe ATMs for cash withdrawals can be found around the city. You don’t have to worry about walking around with larger amounts of cash as the country is very safe. Of course there are jerks in the country, but Japan has extremely few of them.
7-eleven usually has a very good exchange rate at their machines. When withdrawing larger sums such as thousands of euros, it can differ up to hundreds of euros against what you get at Forex if you exchange before the trip. We therefore recommend only bringing a smaller amount and withdrawing more cash on site.
Do not exchange at the airport. Visit a bank or 7-eleven in town.
Tips are not appreciated by the staff and can sometimes be considered disparaging.
If you want to tip, ask the staff beforehand if it is okay. Most likely, you will get a no, as tips are not part of their everyday life.
Visit out other travel guides and explore the fantastic country of Japan. We add new destinations weekly and please, feel free to suggest new destinations to the travel guide if you’ve been in Japan before. We appreciate all the suggestions!
Visit our travel guide already, what are you waiting for? 👋