Hyogo

Himeji

Home to one of Japan's best-loved castles

About Himeji

Things to do in Himeji

Dining

Kineya Cafe and Sweets Shop

Kineya Cafe and Sweets Shop

A traditional Japanese breakfast usually consists of rice, miso soup, and various side items such as grilled fish or egg, pickles, and seaweed. While the egg technically qualifies for me as what can be considered a breakfast food, the rest do not mee..

Places to stay

Himeji 588 Guesthouse

Himeji 588 Guesthouse

The Himeji 588 Guesthouse is a great place to lay your head if you are looking for comfortable lodgings in Himeji with a central location at a reasonable price. Opened in late 2011, the guesthouse is the dream of proprietor Kyoko Matsuoka, who has a ..

Chisun Inn Himeji Yumesakibashi

Chisun Inn Himeji Yumesakibashi

Chisun Inns are a nationwide chain of budget hotels, designed to provide reasonable comfort at good value. They're generally aimed at business travelers or people driving across country, but can also often be found in cities or near interesting o..

Latest

Nada no Kenka Matsuri - Day 1

Nada no Kenka Matsuri - Day 1

Nada no Kenka, or the fighting festival, is celebrated every year on October 14 and 15 in Himeji, South Hyogo Prefecture of the Kansai region. Locals anxiously wait for it. I had the opportunity to experience both days of the festival this year and n..

Nada no Kenka

Nada no Kenka

Honestly I’ve never experienced something as Nada no Kenka. A powerful Japanese festival full of color, passion, tradition, and spirituality. It’s a celebration which surprises you every minute of its two consecutive days. No picture or d..

Himeji Castle - Finally Uncovered

Himeji Castle - Finally Uncovered

Himeji castle is the biggest, the most visited and definitely the most famous castle in Japan. For years the castle was being restored but now, finally, the restoration is coming to an end; we can finally admire its full beauty without any cover..

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About Himeji

Himeji is Hyogo Prefecture's second largest city by population and has been the center of the historical Harima Province for over a thousand years. It is most famous for its history as a castle town and the location of Himeji Castle, one of Japan's most famous World Heritage Sites. Himeji is the principal city in Western Hyogo and balances out Kobe's dominant presence in the east. But where Kobe feels modern and cosmopolitan, Himeji feels distinctively historical.​ In addition to the castle, it boasts a number of other famous sites and activities, making it a must-stop on any trip through Western Japan.

Visitors who arrive by train can exit Himeji Station to the north and almost immediately be able to see Himeji Castle in the distance. It's about a fifteen minute walk along wide sidewalks lined with benches and various bronze sculptures. Alternatively, you can walk one block east of the main road and go to the castle via the shōtengai, or covered shopping street. In many cities across Japan, shōtengai are going out of style in favor of modern shopping centers, but Himeji's is still thriving. You can expect to find many unique shops, restaurants, and cafes as well as access to both the Yamatoyashiki Department Store and the more modern Forus shopping center.

Himeji Castle is the biggest draw to Himeji and for good reason. It is Japan's largest, most visited castle and one of the first structures in the country to be registered as a World Heritage Site. Many people gather for special events on the castle grounds, and it is one of Hyogo's most popular places for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing picnics. Sections of the castle are currently under a five-year restoration project, but this should in no way keep you from visiting. Adjacent to the castle you can also visit Koko-en, a traditional Japanese garden.

Himeji's other main attraction is Mount Shosha and Engyo-ji Temple. The temple complex has a history going back over 2,000 years and is composed of a variety of buildings that stretch across the mountain. The serene setting atop Mount Shosha has been used as a filming location a number of times, most notably for The Last Samurai in 2003. Mount Shosha is one of the best places in Hyogo Prefecture to take in the changing autumn colors.

Himeji also offers a myriad of other museums and attractions including the Himeji City Zoo and Himeji City Aquarium, Himeji Central Park (amusement and safari park), Himeji City Museum of Literature, Himeji City Museum of Art, Himeji City Art and Craft Museum, and the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History.

Himeji's most famous annual festival is the Nada No Kenka Matsuri, Japan's largest fighting festival. At many autumn festivals in Japan, men carry mikoshi, or portable shrines, through the streets. During a fighting festival, multiple shrines are intentionally rammed into each other instead of just parading. It is worth a special trip in October to experience the Nada fighting festival.

Himeji Station is a bullet train stop, which makes it a convenient stopping point for those travelers taking the bullet train from Tokyo or Kyoto to Hiroshima. Many visitors try to squeeze in a quick stop to the castle as they pass through, but the sights, history, shopping, restaurants, and ambiance of Himeji make it well worth spending the night and seeing what the city really has to offer.

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