From Miyajima Island, we took the Shinkansen to Himeji – the second largest city in Hyogo Prefecture. Hyogo Prefecture is also the home to Kobe – famous for its high quality beef. If you can’t tell, our Spring Break was kind of crazy, and we were only passing through Himeji on our way to Osaka.
As soon as we left the Himeji station and stepped out into the sunlight, we immediately noticed one thing looming in the distance: Himeji Castle.
We wasted no time, and headed straight to the castle to secure our tour tickets. Because of the high volume of tourists that visit the castle, they usually only give out 15,000 tickets each day. At first I thought it seemed like a difficult number to reach each day until we arrived at the castle.
The outside of the castle is incredibly beautiful. It’s completely white, and looked dazzling against the clear blue sky above it. Surrounding the castle was a big lawn where people were having picnics, throwing frisbees, and just enjoying the day. We, of course, went straight to the ticket counter and paid the 1000 yen admission price before entering the queue of people. There’s no time stamp on the tickets, so if you want to buy them and come back to the castle after the crowds die down, that is also an option.
Because we were short on time (and I was getting a little hangry), we decided to take our tour of the castle right then and there.
My Himeji Castle Review:
To be honest, I really wanted to like this castle. Like I said before, the castle itself is gorgeous, and the grounds were very well-maintained and peaceful. I can see how locals would like spending time at the castle on a breezy Saturday, and why tourists from all over the world would want to visit this castle that is one of Japan’s 12 original castles.
But I didn’t.
Maybe it was the day we visited, but there were so many people, and we spent a lot of time waiting in a line inside the cramped quarters of the castle. There really isn’t much to see inside – it’s just the structure and a few Japanese relics – and it took at least 45 minutes to make it to the top where we were able to catch a glimpse of the view below. You also have to take your shoes off, which is understandable, but also a little bit of a hassle.
Overall, I’d let any tourist know that it’s not really worth the 1000 yen to walk through the castle, and you can still appreciate it by walking around the grounds and taking in the grandness of the castle. It seemed like we had wasted time walking through an empty castle, and could have used our time in Himeji doing other things. It was a little disappointing.
There’s a garden that I’ve heard is really pretty and worth checking out – you can either pay for the garden admission with your castle tickets, or pay a little bit extra just for garden access. If you arrive at the garden before 4 p.m. there’s a teahouse with a tea ceremony open to the public. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore this area of the castle.
|9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.||1000 yen (1040 yen with the garden access)|