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[[Image:Himeji_castle_frontview.jpg|thumb|240px|Himeji Castle]]
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{{pagebanner|Himeji Banner.jpg}}
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'''Himeji''' ({{lang|ja|姫路}}; [http://www.city.himeji.hyogo.jp/english/himeji/]) is a small city at the western edge of the [[Kansai]] region of [[Japan]].
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==Understand==
  
'''Himeji''' ({{lang|ja|姫路}}; [http://www.city.himeji.hyogo.jp/english/himeji/]) is a small city at the western edge of the [[Kansai]] region of  [[Japan]] with Japan's finest castle. At one point in the late 1500's, it was the biggest castle in all of Asia.
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The finest castle in Japan is in Himeji. At one point in the late 1500's, it was the biggest castle in all of Asia.
  
The city has been featured in a series of Japanese and foreign films due to its picturesque old-Japan look. The information office at the JR station has props from some of these films including, for example, props from the film Last Samurai.
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The city has been featured in a series of Japanese and foreign films due to its picturesque old-Japan look. The information office at the JR station has props from some of these films including props from the film ''[[:WikiPedia:The Last Samurai|The Last Samurai]]''.
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==
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[[Image:Himeji_castle_frontview.jpg|thumb|240px|Himeji Castle]]
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
Himeji does not have its own airport.  The nearest international airport is [[Kansai International Airport]]; buses run eight times a day to Himeji station (about 2 1/4 hours, ¥3200 for a one way ticket).
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'''[[Kansai International Airport]]''' ({{IATA|KIX}} is 126km southeast of Himeji and is the closest major international airport. [http://www.kate.co.jp/en/timetable/detail/HM Buses] operate hourly between the airport and Himeji station (2 1/2 hours, ¥3300 one-way/¥5,150 round-trip).
  
The nearest domestic airports are in [[Kobe]] and [[Osaka]]. By train from Kobe Airport, take the Port Liner to Sannomiya and connect to the ''shin-kaisoku'' train service to Himeji (about one hour with good connection, ¥1270), or take a bus straight to Himeji station (1 1/4 hours, ¥1300, six per day). From Osaka's Itami Airport, there are direct buses every hour or so to Himeji station (1 hour 20 minutes, ¥2100).
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'''[http://www.kairport.co.jp/ Kobe Airport]''' ({{IATA|UKB}} is 65km southeast of Himeji but has fewer flight options than Kansai. [http://www.kairport.co.jp/eng/access/pub_train.html Buses and trains] are available from Sannomiya Station (1 1/4 hours, ¥1,300)
  
[[Image:Shinkansen_C0892.jpg|right|thumb|200px|A 700-series shinkansen train entering [[Himeji]] station.]]
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'''[http://www.osaka-airport.co.jp/en/ Osaka Itami International Airport]''' ({{IATA|ITM}} is 85km east of Himeji. [http://www.okkbus.co.jp/en/timetable/itm/f_hmj.html Buses] operate hourly between the airport and Himeji Station (1 1/2 hours, ¥2,160)
  
 
===By train===
 
===By train===
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[[Image:Shinkansen_C0892.jpg|right|thumb|200px|A 700-series shinkansen train entering [[Himeji]] station.]]
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Himeji is along the Sanyo ''shinkansen'' line (山陽新幹線) from [[Osaka]] and [[Kobe]] to [[Okayama]] and [[Hiroshima]]. The ''Hikari Rail Star'' offers frequent service to Himeji within the Sanyo region, as do the all-stopping ''Kodama'' trains. Since the station is elevated, it is possible to see Himeji Castle from a passing train.
  
Himeji is along the Sanyo ''shinkansen'' line (山陽新幹線) from [[Osaka]] and [[Kobe]] to [[Okayama]] and [[Hiroshima]]. The ''Hikari Rail Star'' offers frequent service to Himeji within the Sanyo region, as do the all-stopping ''Kodama'' trains. As the station is raised it is possible to see Himeji Castle from a passing train.
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From [[Tokyo]], one Nozomi train per hour runs through to Himeji (3 hours, ¥15,710), otherwise you have to change at Shin-Osaka. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, there is also one Hikari train departing each hour, running through to Himeji, which you can take at no charge (3 hours and 40 minutes).
  
From [[Tokyo]], one Nozomi train per hour runs through to Himeji, covering the journey in just over three hours (¥15710). If you have a Japan Rail Pass, there is also one Hikari train departing each hour, running through to Himeji, which you can take at no charge. Due to additional stops, the Hikari takes 3 hours and 40 minutes to reach Himeji from Tokyo.
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The overnight ''Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto'' from Tokyo stops at Himeji. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can book a carpeted floor space at no charge; otherwise you can travel in a compartment or room by paying the applicable room fee and surcharges.
  
An inexpensive method of reaching Himeji from within the Kansai region is to take one of the frequent ''Shinkaisoku'' (新快速 - Special Rapid) commuter trains on the JR Kobe line (JR 神戸線) that begins in Osaka, which charges only the price of a local train. The ride takes 38 minutes from [[Kobe]]'s Sannomiya station (¥950) or 57 minutes from [[Osaka]] (¥1450).
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An inexpensive method of reaching Himeji from within the Kansai region is to take one of the frequent ''Shinkaisoku'' (新快速 - Special Rapid) commuter trains on the JR Kobe line (JR 神戸線) that begins in Osaka, which charges only the price of a local train. The ride takes 38 minutes from [[Kobe]]'s Sannomiya station (¥950) or 57 minutes from [[Osaka]] (¥1,450).
  
It is possible to travel from Osaka to Himeji using direct trains over the private Hanshin and Sanyo Railways but as this takes longer than JR (one and a half hours, ¥1250) it is only really worthwhile for holders of the 3 day or 5 day pass for Kansai's private railway system.
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It is possible to travel from Osaka to Himeji using direct trains over the private Hanshin and Sanyo Railways but as this takes longer than JR (1.5 hours, ¥1,250) it is only really worthwhile for holders of the 3 day or 5 day pass for Kansai's private railway system.
  
From [[Kyoto]], the Hikari ''shinkansen'' whisks travellers to Himeji in just under an hour. This trip can be taken without charge by Japan Rail Pass holders.
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From [[Kyoto]], the Hikari ''shinkansen'' whisks travellers to Himeji in just under an hour. This trip can be taken without charge by Japan Rail Pass holders.
  
 
===By bus===
 
===By bus===
Shinki Bus runs an overnight service from Tokyo ([[Tokyo/Shinjuku|Shinjuku]] and [[Tokyo/Shibuya|Shibuya]]) to Himeji at a cost of ¥9450 one way and ¥17010 round trip. As of October 2009, the bus leaves the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal at 22:30 and arrives at the Himeji Bus Terminal at 8:00, with the return leaving Himeji at 21:30 and getting to Shinjuku at 7:00.
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'''[http://willerexpress.com/en/ Willer Express]''' operates overnight buses between Tokyo Station and Himeji, with a stop in [[Kobe]]. Buses depart Tokyo Station at 10:00PM or Shinjuku Station at 10:30PM and arrive in Himeji at 8:20AM the next morning. Prices depend on advance purchase and seat configuration and are usually in the range of ¥5,400-8,000.
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'''[http://www.shinkibus.co.jp.e.rz.hp.transer.com/highway/category/route_guidance/himeji_tokyo.html Shinki Bus]''' operates overnight buses from Tokyo ([[Tokyo/Shinjuku|Shinjuku]] and [[Tokyo/Shibuya|Shibuya]]) to Himeji at a cost of ¥8,700-9,900 one way and ¥17,400 round trip. The bus leaves the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal (''Basta Shinjuku'') at 22:30 and arrives at the Himeji Bus Terminal at 8:00, with the return leaving Himeji at 21:30 and getting to Shinjuku at 7:00.
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
===On foot===
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===By foot===
To see the castle, as well as many of the other sites, it's only a 10-15 minute walk down Otemae-dōri from the station. Along the way, you'll also pass shopping centers and souvenir shops.
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The Himeji Castle complex is a 15 minute walk straight down Otemae-dōri from Himeji Station. There are shopping centers and souvenir shops along the way.
  
===By bus===
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===By Sightseeing Loop Bus===
The Sightseeing '''Loop Bus''' is a cheap and convenient alternative that makes a loop around the cultural area, with stops near the castle, garden, and museums. It only costs ¥100 to ride, regardless of where you get off. It only takes 5 minutes to get to the castle.
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'''[http://www.himeji-kanko.jp/en/information/ Sightseeing Loop Bus]''' (¥100) makes a loop around the cultural area, starting at Himeji Station, with stops near the castle, garden, and museums.
  
The Loop Bus only covers the area around the castle, so for those wanting to visit sites beyond this area, such as Engyoji, you will need to take the city bus.
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===By city bus===
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City buses operate to sights far from the castle, such as Engyō-ji Temple.
  
 
==See==
 
==See==
 
 
[[Image:Himeji_castle_gun_racks.jpg|thumb|Himeji Castle gun racks]]
 
[[Image:Himeji_castle_gun_racks.jpg|thumb|Himeji Castle gun racks]]
  
* <see name="Himeji Castle" alt="姫路城 Himeji-jō" address="" directions="An easy 10-minute walk north from the station; also accessible by bus." phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.himeji-castle.gr.jp/index/English/index.html" hours="The castle is open 9 AM to 5 PM daily (admission is only until 4 PM) or until 6 PM (admission is until 5 PM) from June until August. The castle is closed between December 29 – 31.)" price="Admission is ¥600 adults and ¥200 children. A special ¥720 combination ticket gets you into both the castle and the nearby Kōkoen Garden. A free guided tour in English is included ''if'' a guide happens to be available (no reservations are possible)"> Dating to 1609 and also graced with the name "White Egret Castle" (白鷺城 ''Shirasagi-jō''), this striking white edifice is generally considered the most beautiful of Japan's castles and is one of the few that has escaped the ravages of civil war, earthquakes and firebombings. Most notably, the castle miraculously survived World War II virtually unscathed, despite the rest of the city having been levelled by American carpet bombing. The castle was designated as a national treasure in 1931 and was registered as a [[UNESCO World Heritage site]] in 1993. It is virtually the last castle in Japan that still manages to tower over the surrounding skyscrapers and office buildings.</see>
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* <see name="Himeji Castle" alt="姫路城 Himeji-jō" address="" directions="An easy 15-minute walk north from the station; also accessible by bus" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.himejicastle.jp/en/" hours="9AM-5PM daily (admission is only until 4 PM) or until 6PM (admission is until 5PM) May-August. Closed December 29–31. The Main keep is limited to the first 15,000 visitors each day" price="Admission: ¥1,000 adults and ¥300 children. A ¥1,040/¥360 combination ticket gets you into both the castle and the nearby Kōkoen Garden. A free guided tour in English is included ''if'' a guide happens to be available (no reservations are possible)">Dating to 1609 and also graced with the name "White Egret Castle" (白鷺城 ''Shirasagi-jō''), this striking white edifice is generally considered the most beautiful of Japan's castles and is one of the few that has escaped the ravages of civil war, World War II, earthquakes, and firebombings. The castle was designated as a national treasure in 1931 and was registered as a [[UNESCO World Heritage site]] in 1993. It is virtually the last castle in Japan that still manages to tower over the surrounding skyscrapers and office buildings. Although renovated, much of the castle looks as it did when it was first built, and in contrast to European castles, is very empty, consistent with the Japanese minimalist style of the time. On extremely busy days, you may have to wait to enter since the number of visitors at any one time is limited. Check the website for a "congestion forecast" and status.</see>
  
{{cautionbox|Himeji Castle is currently undergoing renovation until spring '''2015'''. It will stay open throughout, but parts may be off-limits and a large tent-like structure is covering the entire main building of castle. As of <b>Sept 1, 2011</b>, the interior of the main keep was closed to visitors, and the structure itself is covered up. For an additional 200 yen on top of the 300 yen entry fee, you can take an elevator to the top of the main keep to see the work in progress. A series of other parts of the castle complex have been opened up to compensate including some that are generally not open to the public. Although the image of the castle towering over the city is a key reason many people visit Himeji, the covered-up castle is still worth a visit. A live image of the castle may be seen here: http://www.winknet.ne.jp/ }}
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* <see name="Kōkoen Garden" alt="好古園 kokoen" address="" directions="Next to the western edge of Himeji Castle's outer moat" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/koukoen/english.html" hours="Open from 9 AM daily and closes at either 5 PM or 6PM (last admission at 4:30 PM or 5:30 PM) depending on the time of year" price="Admission: ¥300 adults and ¥150 children. A ¥1,040 combination ticket gets you into both Kōkoen and Himeji Castle">This magnificent collection of 9 Edo-period-style walled gardens was laid out in 1992 on a site where samurai houses once stood. The street plan and gated partitions preserve the appearance of the old residential quarter, except that within the various enclosures visitors find beautifully landscaped gardens and water features instead of noble residences. There is a tea arbour and a restaurant within the grounds, but eating and drinking outside of these places is prohibited.</see>
   
 
* <see name="Kōkoen Garden" alt="好古園 kokoen" address="" directions="Located right next to the western edge of Himeji Castle's outer moat" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/koukoen/english.html" hours="Open from 9 AM daily and closes at either 5 PM or 6PM (last admission at 4:30 PM or 5:30 PM) depending on the time of year" price="Admission is ¥300 adults and ¥150 children. A special ¥720 combination ticket gets you into both Kōkoen and Himeji Castle">This magnificent collection of nine Edo-period-style walled gardens was laid out in 1992 on a site where samurai houses once stood. The street plan and gated partitions preserve the appearance of the old residential quarter, except that within the various enclosures visitors find beautifully landscaped gardens and water features instead of noble residences. There is a tea arbour and a restaurant within the grounds, but eating and drinking outside of these places is prohibited.</see>
 
  
* <see name="Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History" alt="" address="" directions="Across the street from Himeji City Museum of Art" phone="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.hyogo-c.ed.jp/~rekihaku-bo/english/about.html" hours="Open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Closed Mondays" price="Entrance fee ¥200 yen (adult), ¥150 college and high school students. During special exhibitions admission changes, typically to around ¥700.">Unlike most prefectural museums, this one actually has very little information about Hyogo prefecture's history, and historical artifacts also tend to be lacking, so if you really want to learn more about Hyogo, you may be disappointed however, if you are interested in Japanese history as a whole, this museum is well worth visiting. It contains replicas of all twelve original castles remaining in Japan, has a room dedicated to festivals (while they feature Hyogo festivals, most are done nationwide), and toys throughout history. There is an art gallery, as well, which often features some of Japan's most interesting artwork. The artwork is not limited to Hyogo artists. Check the website to see what will be displayed when you arrive.</see>
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* <see name="Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History" alt="" address="" directions="Across the street from Himeji City Museum of Art" phone="" email="" fax="" url="https://www.hyogo-c.ed.jp/~rekihaku-bo/english/about.html" hours="10AM-5PM. Closed Mondays" price="Entrance fee ¥200 yen (adult), ¥150 college and high school students. During special exhibitions admission changes, typically to around ¥700.">Unlike most prefectural museums, this one actually has very little information about Hyogo prefecture's history, and historical artefacts also tend to be lacking, so if you really want to learn more about Hyogo, you may be disappointed. However, if you are interested in Japanese history as a whole, this museum is well worth visiting. It contains replicas of all twelve original castles remaining in Japan, has a room dedicated to festivals (while they feature Hyogo festivals, most are done nationwide), and toys throughout history. A few times a day, someone is selected by lot to be assisted in dressing in either full samurai armour or Heian-era, 12-layer kimono without restrictions on photography. There is an art gallery, as well, which often features some of Japan's most interesting artwork. The artwork is not limited to Hyogo artists. Check the website to see what will be displayed when you arrive.</see>
  
* <see name="Himeji City Museum of Art" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="079-222-2288" email="" fax="" url="" hours="Open 10AM to 5PM" price="¥200 (prices are raised during special exhibitions)">Features artwork from local artists and European art, along with special exhibitions.</see>
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* <see name="Himeji City Museum of Art" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="079-222-2288" email="" fax="" url="http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/art/english/" hours="Open 10AM to 5PM" price="¥200 (prices are raised during special exhibitions)">Features artwork from local artists and European art, along with special exhibitions.</see>
  
 
* <see name="Senhime Shrine" alt="" address="" directions="On the flank of Otokoyama, towards the castle" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">This is the only shrine in Japan associated with a castle. While the shrine itself is rather small and not very interesting, travelling up the stairs to the next lookout reveals a spectacular view of Himeji Castle.</see>
 
* <see name="Senhime Shrine" alt="" address="" directions="On the flank of Otokoyama, towards the castle" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">This is the only shrine in Japan associated with a castle. While the shrine itself is rather small and not very interesting, travelling up the stairs to the next lookout reveals a spectacular view of Himeji Castle.</see>
Line 55: Line 63:
 
*<see name="Himeji City Zoo" alt="" address="68 Honmachi, Himeji, 670-0012" directions="In the park in front of the castle. " phone="079-284-3636" url="http://www.himeji-kanko.jp/en/spot/ss044.html" hours="9am-5pm" price="Entry Y200" lat="" long="">This zoo has a pretty comprehensive array of animals, but usually only one of each and all in very small cages or enclosures. </see>
 
*<see name="Himeji City Zoo" alt="" address="68 Honmachi, Himeji, 670-0012" directions="In the park in front of the castle. " phone="079-284-3636" url="http://www.himeji-kanko.jp/en/spot/ss044.html" hours="9am-5pm" price="Entry Y200" lat="" long="">This zoo has a pretty comprehensive array of animals, but usually only one of each and all in very small cages or enclosures. </see>
  
* <see name="Engyo-ji Temple" alt="" address="" directions="A 30 minute bus ride from Himeji castle on the orange bus #8" phone="" url="" hours="" price="¥300 entrance + ¥900 cable car return trip" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">The beautiful temple complex is best known among the locals as the setting for part of Tom Cruise's "The Last Samurai". Mount Shosha, where the temple complex is located, is particularly beautiful in the fall, when the Japanese maples change colors.</see>
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* <see name="Engyo-ji Temple" alt="" address="" directions="A 30 minute bus ride from Himeji castle on the orange bus #8" phone="" url="http://www.shosha.or.jp/" hours="" price="¥300 entrance + ¥900 cable car return trip" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">The beautiful temple complex is best known among the locals as the setting for part of Tom Cruise's ''[[:WikiPedia:The Last Samurai|The Last Samurai]]''. Mount Shosha, where the temple complex is located, is particularly beautiful in the fall, when the Japanese maples change colors.</see>
 
 
  
* '''Tegarayama''', southwest of Himeji castle, with an aquarium and small amusement park.
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* <see name="Tegarayama" alt="" address="" directions="A short train ride away southwest of Himeji castle on the Sanyo line to Tegarayama Station" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/var/rev0/0086/3998/20166221560.pdf" hours="" price="">A district with a large park with a small WWII museum, an aquarium, a amusement park, a botanic garden, and a monorail museum.</see>
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** <see name="Historical Peace Center" alt="" address="" directions="In Tegarayama Central Park" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/var/rev0/0086/3998/20166221560.pdf" hours="" price="">A small museum in remembrance of air raid victims during the Pacific War, WWII. It sits right next to a monument in the shape of a sword struck into the earth with a listing of the casualties and fatalities by prefecture in Japanese. Sobering and confronting.</see>
  
* '''Asago Sculpture Park''', 30 minutes by car or train is a large sculpture park and museum.
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*'''Nagoyama''', within walking distance West of the castle - vast cemetery with features at the top to those foreign service personnel killed in war.
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* <see name="Japan Toy Museum" alt="" address="671-3 Nakanino Kodera-cho" directions="10km north of Himeji; take JR Bantan line to Koro Station and walk east for 15 minutes" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79 232 4388" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.japan-toy-museum.org/english/eindex.htm" hours="10AM-5PM" price="Adults: ¥500; Students: ¥400; Children: ¥200">A small museum based in the home of the toy collector and founder Mr Shigeyoshi Inoue. The toys may have aged over the decades but they are still fun for anyone with an inner child. Inoue-san has collected toys and dolls from several prefectures and several countries since the 1970s.</see>
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* <see name="Asago Art Village" alt="" address="" directions="60 minutes by car or train; take the JR Bantan Line to Nii Station, then take a taxi for 10 minutes" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.city.asago.hyogo.jp/kankou/eng/asagoartvillage.html" hours="10AM-5PM, closed Wednesdays" price="Adults: ¥500">A large sculpture park and museum.</see>
  
 
==Do==
 
==Do==
Himeji Castle is particularly striking (and crowded) in '''cherry blossom season''' in April, when all the trees planted in and around the castle burst into white splendor.
 
  
Most people visit only the Castle and the area between the castle and the station. However, the area around the castle is a great place for a refreshing walk or a picnic. For families in particular, the park behind Himeji castle offers a decent play structure and ample space to sit down and have a picnic in the shadow of Japan's most famous castle.
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===Parks===
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* <do name="Himeji Central Park" alt="" address="" directions="20 min by car or bus, east of Himeji castle. Buses depart from Himeji North bus terminal (Sanyo Bld., 1F) hourly." lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.central-park.co.jp/en/" hours="" price="">A drive-in safari park, amusement park and car racing tracks. It is possible to rent a campsite in summer months.</do>
  
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* For families in particular, the park behind Himeji castle offers a decent play structure and ample space to sit down and have a picnic in the shadow of Japan's most famous castle.
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===Festivals and events===
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* '''Cherry Blossom Viewing Party''', usually around the second Sunday in April. Lots of koto and taiko drumming.
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* '''Yukata Matsuri''' - mid June, runs 2-3 days. Locals criticize this festival for having no roots or real reason to exist other than an opportunity for girls to dress up in summer yukata, eat delicious food from booths, and play fair games. Which is a good enough reason to go. This festival is always packed and makes for great people-watching, as many kinds of Japanese subcultures are on display.
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* '''Oshiro Matsuri''' - early august. A large parade down the main street ending at Himeji castle. There is also a big stage to see lots of dancing, which can range from either very traditional to very hip. Often it's a combination of the two.
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* '''Moon viewing''' - in September near the time of the Harvest moon. Features traditional plays and drums.
 
* '''Nada Matsuri'''
 
* '''Nada Matsuri'''
 
* '''Aboshi Matsuri'''
 
* '''Aboshi Matsuri'''
* '''Himeji Ceramics market'''
 
 
Himeji has a number of matsuri (festivals) throughout the year. 
 
* '''Cherry Blossom Viewing Party''', usually around the second Sunday in April.  Lots of koto and taiko drumming.
 
* '''Yukata Matsuri''' - mid June, runs 2-3 days.  Locals criticize this festival for having no roots or real reason to exist other than an opportunity for girls to dress up in summer yukata, eat delicious food from booths, and play fair games.  Which is a good enough reason to go. This festival is always packed and makes for great people-watching, as many kinds of Japanese subcultures are on display.
 
* '''Oshiro Matsuri''' - early august.  A large parade down the main street ending at Himeji castle.  There is also a big stage to see lots of dancing, which can range from either very traditional to very hip.  Often it's a combination of the two.
 
* '''Moon viewing''' - in September near the time of the Harvest moon.  Features traditional plays and drums.
 
  
 
==Buy==
 
==Buy==
  
Himeji isn't particularly famous for crafts or goods. Wind chimes made of iron tongs and white leather accessories are popular higher-end Himeji souvenirs, and they can be bought in many of the department stores or along the Miyuki dori shopping arcade. There are also numerous shops along the route to the castle selling a variety of Himeji Castle and other assorted souvenirs.   Additionally, the streets in the area surrounding Himeji Station are filled with shopping arcades (particularly Miyuki dori) and the usual department stores (there are several lining the way to the Castle, including Sanyo, Forus, and Yamatoyashiki.)
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Himeji isn't particularly famous for crafts or goods. Wind chimes made of iron tongs and white leather accessories are popular higher-end Himeji souvenirs, and they can be bought in many of the department stores or along the Miyuki dori shopping arcade. There are also numerous shops along the route to the castle selling a variety of Himeji Castle and other assorted souvenirs. Additionally, the streets in the area surrounding Himeji Station are filled with shopping arcades (particularly Miyuki dori) and the usual department stores (there are several lining the way to the Castle, including Sanyo, Forus, and Yamatoyashiki.)
  
* '''Plie''', located inside Himeji station. There are two sections. The section next to the North exit consists of women's clothing stores, zakka (home goods) stores, and a large Junkudo book shop. The other section consists of some omiyage (food gift) shops and a few restaurants like McDonald's and KFC.
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* '''Himeji Ceramics market''' - in autumn
  
* '''Sanyo department store''', part of Sanyo station (North of Himeji JR station, on the West side of the main street). A standard department store with a variety of goods on multiple floors, including a small LOFT (a popular chain of stores that sells hip accessories, stickers, home goods and pop culture items).
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* <buy name="Piole" alt="" address="" directions="Inside and around Himeji Station" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.piole-himeji.jp/en/" hours="" price="">There are two separate buildings of this department store. The section inside Himeji JR station, across from the ticket gates (called "Young Piole") consists of women's clothing stores, zakka (home goods) stores, and a large Junkudo book shop. The other section (outside and just in front of Himeji station) has a wider variety of shops, including women's and men's fashion, home goods, food shops, restaurants (including a Starbucks and a Nana's Green Tea), a small Tokyu Hands and a Uniqlo.</buy>
  
* '''Festa''', located on the northeast corner outside of Himeji station, has a small selection of stores.
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* <buy name="Sanyo department store" alt="" address="1 Minamimachi" directions="Inside Sanyo station, north of Himeji JR station, on the West side of the main street" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79-223-1231" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.sanyo-dp.co.jp/" hours="" price="">A standard department store with a variety of goods on multiple floors, including a small LOFT, a popular chain of stores that sells hip accessories, stickers, home goods and pop culture items</buy>
  
* '''Animate''', running perpendicular to the shopping arcade next to Miyukidori (turn at the 7-11 and taiyaki corner shops), Animate has two floors for those into anime and manga. The ground floor has a large selection of manga and doujinshi for all tastes and ages.  The second floor has anime goods, CD soundtracks, and DVDs.
+
* <buy name="Festa" alt="" address="" directions="Northeast corner outside of Himeji station and under the station" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79-221-3500" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://himeji-festa.com/info" hours="" price="">A small selection of stores.</buy>
  
* '''Bon Marche''', there are two in the station area, one on Miyukidori close to the castle, and one tucked behind and between Sanyo department store and Mitsubishi UFJ Bank (left hand side of Otemae dori). These gourmet grocery stores stock an impressive (though sometimes pricey) selection of foods, including some import foods.
+
* '''Animate''', running perpendicular to the shopping arcade next to Miyukidori (turn at the 7-11 and taiyaki corner shops), Animate has two floors for those into anime and manga. The ground floor has a large selection of manga and doujinshi for all tastes and ages. The second floor has anime goods, CD soundtracks, and DVDs.
  
* '''Daiso''', located above the Bon Marche behind Sanyo department store, is arguably the largest 100-yen store in Himeji.  This store is made up of three floors, and sell goods that run the gamut from housewares to clothes, electronics to food - most (but not all) available for ¥100 apiece. A great place to pick up cheap souvenirs for your friends back home, but getting there and getting out can be a bit inconvenient.
+
* '''Bon Marche''', there are two in the station area, one on Miyukidori close to the castle, and one tucked behind and between Sanyo department store and Mitsubishi UFJ Bank (left hand side of Otemae dori). These gourmet grocery stores stock an impressive (though sometimes pricey) selection of foods, including some import foods.
  
Additionally, for those who prefer the finer smokeables, there is a tobacco shop just off of Miyuki dori (turn right at the Fujifilm corner shop) on the right hand side just past the Softbank store that, in an unusual move for Japanese tobacconists, sells a variety of cigars.  Not the top quality Cubans, mind you, but decent enough (and rare-in-Japan) "hamaki" (cigars).
+
* '''Daiso''', located above the Bon Marche behind Sanyo department store, is arguably the largest 100-yen store in Himeji. This store is made up of two floors, and sell goods that run the gamut from housewares to clothes, electronics to food - most (but not all) available for ¥100 apiece. A great place to pick up cheap souvenirs for your friends back home. Remember there is now (from April 2014) an 8% tax on the prices although some better items cost more but are clearly marked so.
  
 
==Eat==
 
==Eat==
 
As you exit the station facing the castle (North), the main shopping street (Miyuki dori) will be on your right and the main entertainment area on your left. Both areas have some fine restaurants. Himeji has a full selection of foods, from fast food (Western and Japanese) to gourmet dining. For breakfast there are countless coffee shops, including a Starbucks that has small waffles.
 
As you exit the station facing the castle (North), the main shopping street (Miyuki dori) will be on your right and the main entertainment area on your left. Both areas have some fine restaurants. Himeji has a full selection of foods, from fast food (Western and Japanese) to gourmet dining. For breakfast there are countless coffee shops, including a Starbucks that has small waffles.
  
Vegetarians in Himeji would do well to visit either Baobab or Everest. Baobab is a pan-Asian restaurant with an English menu for lunch and dinner, located just east of SMBC bank on Miyuki-dori, the main shopping arcade.  Everest is a Nepalese (and Indian) restaurant just West of Himeji Station.  Everest also has an English menu and the owner and chef also speaks English fluently.
+
===Budget===
 +
* <eat name="McDonald's" alt="" address="" directions="On the east side of Himeji JR station" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79-226-2884" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="https://map.mcdonalds.co.jp/map/28655" hours="24 hours/day" price=""></eat>
 +
 
 +
===Mid-range===
 +
* <eat name="Baobab: Oriental Food And Tea Room" alt="" address="78 Konyamachi" directions="Just east of SMBC bank on Miyuki-dori" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79-289-3922" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="11:30AM–11PM" price="">English menu. Good vegetarian selection.</eat>
  
 
* '''Koba and More''', a small ramen shop with a jazz theme that is famous among the local expat crowd for its unusual Milk Ramen. Koba is the owner and ramen chef. Open 11:30-2:30 for lunch and 7:00-11:00 for dinner (6:00-11:00 on Saturdays). Closed on Thursdays. Walking towards the castle on the main road (Otemae-Dori), Take a right when you get to Yamato Yashiki department store. Take the second left. Kobe and More is on the left, look for the hanging beaded curtain.
 
* '''Koba and More''', a small ramen shop with a jazz theme that is famous among the local expat crowd for its unusual Milk Ramen. Koba is the owner and ramen chef. Open 11:30-2:30 for lunch and 7:00-11:00 for dinner (6:00-11:00 on Saturdays). Closed on Thursdays. Walking towards the castle on the main road (Otemae-Dori), Take a right when you get to Yamato Yashiki department store. Take the second left. Kobe and More is on the left, look for the hanging beaded curtain.
  
* '''Lamp Cafe''', is a small locally owned shop that has wonderful burgers and a cool casual atmosphere. They are open from 11- 8pm and closed on Mondays. If you are craving some western food or just looking for a relaxing cafe this is a great place to try. Follow the main street, Otamae Dori, on the left side walking north and walk toward the castle. When you are almost to the castle look for the sign and walk down the alley to your left. This place is a little hard to find but worth looking for.  
+
* '''Lamp Cafe''', is a small locally owned shop that has wonderful burgers and a cool casual atmosphere. They are open from 11- 8pm and closed on Mondays. If you are craving some western food or just looking for a relaxing cafe this is a great place to try. Follow the main street, Otamae Dori, on the left side walking north and walk toward the castle. When you are almost to the castle look for the sign and walk down the alley to your left. This place is a little hard to find but worth looking for.  
  
 
* '''Sakura-saku''', Honmachi 68, Himeji 670-0917. Vegetarian-friendly restaurant (also a kind of greengrocer's) with nice open-air frontage and view of Himeji castle. You can get a fantastic veggie meal of (for example) rice with peas, tofu steak and pumpkin, pickles, soup, dessert with coffee, and all the green tea you can drink, all for ¥1000. From the intersection in front of the castle, facing towards JR Himeji station, walk down the main street towards the station, go right at the first set of traffic lights you reach, and it's a few buildings down on your left.
 
* '''Sakura-saku''', Honmachi 68, Himeji 670-0917. Vegetarian-friendly restaurant (also a kind of greengrocer's) with nice open-air frontage and view of Himeji castle. You can get a fantastic veggie meal of (for example) rice with peas, tofu steak and pumpkin, pickles, soup, dessert with coffee, and all the green tea you can drink, all for ¥1000. From the intersection in front of the castle, facing towards JR Himeji station, walk down the main street towards the station, go right at the first set of traffic lights you reach, and it's a few buildings down on your left.
  
* '''Starbucks''', Located on the first floor of the Forus shopping building.
+
==Drink==
 +
===Bars===
 +
Bars tend to be frequented mostly by foreigners living in the city.
  
* '''Subway''', the American sandwich chain, is a 5-minute walk north from JR Himeji station on Miyuki dori.
+
* <drink name="Hosanna Public House" alt="" address="" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79-240-7088" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://pub-hosanna.com/ekiminami" hours="" price="">An Irish-English type pub, except that the city's small Irish population tend to avoid it at all costs. Serving good food in a warm and relaxing setting. Expensive and a bit lifeless but some members of staff may speak English.</drink>
  
There is a 24 hour McDonald's on the east side of Himeji JR station, for those of you who fancy something quick, simple and recognizable.
+
* <drink name="Standing Bar Nobu" alt="" address="71 Tatemachi" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">A tiny, cramped little bar with English-speaking Japanese and foreign staff. It may be small; but Nobu is a friendly place. Frequented mainly by a younger crowd, mostly English teachers and foreign engineers working for one of the big factories in Southern Himeji.</drink>
  
==Drink==
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* <drink name="Teeda" alt="" address="440-1 Chonotsubo" directions="" lat="" long="" phone="+81 79-299-5860" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="11AM-6PM, Closed T-W" price="">Teeda is wonderful creative cafe/pub, with great asian fusion foods, amazing staff and great vibe.</drink>
  
Himeji has two main bars that cater to foreigners. These bars tend to be frequented mostly by foreigners living in the city.
+
===Cafes===
 +
* '''Starbucks''', Located on the first floor of the Forus shopping building.
  
* '''Nobu''', [http://www.bar-nobu.com/].  Nobu is a tiny, cramped little bar with English-speaking Japanese and foreign staff. It may be small; but Nobu is a friendly place. This bar is frequented mainly by a younger crowd, mostly English teachers.
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==Sleep==
 +
There are many hotels near the train station. Another possibility is to sleep in [[Kakogawa]], and prolong your trip into the country side of [[Hyogo]].
  
* '''Hosanna Irish/British Pub'''. The city's resident Irish Pub, except that the city's small Irish population tend to avoid it at all costs. Serving good food in a warm and relaxing setting, Hosanna is expensive and a bit lifeless but some members of the staff speak very good English.
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===Budget===
 +
* <sleep name="Himeji 588 Guesthouse Hostel" alt="" address="Honmachi 68" directions="Near the Egret Center on the Miyuki-Dori shopping arcade" phone="+81 79-227-6994" url="http://himeji588.com/eng/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Dormitory: ¥2,700; Double: ¥3,000-3,500" lat="" long="">Traditional tatami rooms with futon and a shared bathroom and common space. The first floor has a small cafe that serves free coffee and tea. WiFi, bike rental and laundry services are available.</sleep>
  
==Sleep==
+
* <sleep name="Engakudou Guesthouse Hostel" alt="ゲストハウス 縁楽堂" address="" directions="Just west of the train station" phone="+81 90 9717 6763" lat="34.84017" long="134.68959" tollfree="" email="info@engakudou.com" fax="" url="http://www.engakudou.com/english.html" checkin="" checkout="" price="Dormitory: ¥2,500; Double: ¥3,000-3,500">Old tiny but cosy house with tatami rooms and friendly owner.</sleep>
Most people visit Himeji as a day/half day trip. Like most Japanese cities, there are a number of inexpensive business hotels clustered around the station. For example:
 
  
* <sleep name="Toyoko Inn" address="97 Minami-Ekimae-cho" phone="" url="http://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00080/index.html">This simple business hotel is located right next to the train station. Rooms are smallish, but the price includes internet in the room and Japanese-style breakfast. (Double room ¥8,000)</sleep>
+
===Mid-range===
*<sleep name="Hotel Nikko Himeji" alt="Ekimae" address="" directions="South side of the JR train station" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">The Nikko Himeji (along with a few other hotels) is on the side of the JR station opposite the castle. There is now a convenient central underpass in the station with a number of shops, linking the castle- and the sea-sides of the city (previously, to get over the tracks meant either a long walk or the purchasing of a train ticket!). The Hotel Nikko is a pleasant hotel for the business traveler (although possibly pricey for those on a budget - about ¥12,000 as of 10/2008).</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Hotel Nikko Himeji" alt="" address="100 Minamiekimaecho" directions="South side of the JR train station" phone="+81 79-222-2231" url="https://www.okura-nikko.com/japan/himeji/hotel-nikko-himeji/" checkin="" checkout="" price="¥10,000-15,000" lat="" long="">A pleasant hotel for the business traveler.</sleep>
*<sleep name="Floral Inn" alt="" address="〒670-0965 兵庫県姫路市東延末3丁目56番地" directions="About five minutes walk south of the station" phone="079-222-8000" url="http://www.floral-inn.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="¥6000" lat="" long="">Ok standard on the rooms, although the walls separating them are a bit thin. Breakfast for ¥500. Single room for ¥6000. Internet included (both cable and wifi)</sleep>
 
  
There is one budget guesthouse that recently opened downtown:
+
* <sleep name="Toyoko Inn" alt="" address="97 Minami-Ekimae-cho" directions="Next to the train station" phone="" lat="" long="" tollfree="" email="" fax="" url="http://www.toyoko-inn.com/e_hotel/00080/index.html" checkin="" checkout="" price="Double: ¥8,000">Simple business hotel. Rooms are small, but the price includes internet in the room and Japanese-style breakfast.</sleep>
 
 
*<sleep name="Himeji 588 Guesthouse" alt="" address="兵庫県姫路市本町68番地" directions="Located near the Egret Center on the Miyuki-Dori shopping arcade" phone="079-283-2588" url="http://himeji588.com/eng/" checkin="" checkout="" price="Dormitory: ¥2700 (private rooms also available)" lat="" long="">Traditional tatami rooms with futon and a shared bathroom and common space. The first floor has a small cafe that serves free coffee and tea. WiFi, bike rental and laundry services are available.</sleep>
 
  
 
==Get out==
 
==Get out==
* To see Himeji Castle's evil twin, the brooding black '''Crow Castle''', hop on a train 50 kilometers west to [[Okayama]]. In [[Okayama]], you'll also find the lovely '''Korakuen Garden''', one of [[Japan's Top 3]] gardens.
+
* [[Okayama]] is 50km west and includes, the brooding black '''Crow Castle''', and the lovely '''Korakuen Garden''', one of [[Japan's Top 3]] gardens.
* [[Kurashiki]], only a short distance further from [[Okayama]], is famous for its large '''Bikan Historic District''' with many well-preserved building from the Edo Period, as well as the famous '''Ohara Museum of Art''' which contains a large amount of works by the most famous European artists.
+
* [[Kurashiki]], near [[Okayama]], is famous for its large '''Bikan Historic District''' with many well-preserved buildings from the Edo Period, as well as the famous '''Ohara Museum of Art''' which contains a large amount of works by the most famous European artists.
 
* [[Tsuyama]], a quiet town with rich history, is famous for '''Kakuzan Park''', a great place for cherry blossom viewing, '''Joto Street''', and the beautiful '''Shurakuen Garden'''.
 
* [[Tsuyama]], a quiet town with rich history, is famous for '''Kakuzan Park''', a great place for cherry blossom viewing, '''Joto Street''', and the beautiful '''Shurakuen Garden'''.
* For those interested in Japanese sword making or pottery, [[Bizen]] features museums that display its rich history. [[Bizen]] pottery and swords are renowned throughout Japan as being of the best quality since ancient times.
+
* [[Bizen]] features museums that display the history of Japanese sword making and pottery and [[Bizen]] pottery and swords are renowned throughout Japan as being of the best quality since ancient times.
 
+
* [[Kobe]] is a port city, with the scenic '''Harborland''' and '''Meriken Park''' around the port and also has the'''Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum''' to learn more about the 1995 earthquake and how the city dealt with it.
* To the East, one can easily visit the port city of [[Kobe]], with the scenic '''Harborland''' and '''Meriken Park''' around the port. The city is also the location of the devastating Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and visitors can go to the '''Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum''' to learn more about the earthquake and how the city dealt with it.
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* [[Takarazuka]] is home to Japan's all-female theater troupe, the '''Takarazuka Revue''' but the plays are well-done and the actresses are so convincing, you may forget that the male characters are not really men. The city also home to the '''Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum''', which features works from all of his most famous manga.
* For those interested in the performing arts, the city of [[Takarazuka]] is home to Japan's all-female theater troupe, the '''Takarazuka Revue'''. The plays are well-done and the actresses are so convincing, you may forget that the male characters are not really men. The city also home to the '''Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum''', which features works from all of his most famous manga.
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* [[Fukusaki]] is a small town 30 minutes north of Himeji, on the Bantan line train. The birthplace of famous author Kunio Yanagita, which can be visited for free; Fukusaki boasts many great restaurants, small shrines and shops, in a relaxed rural setting.
* 30 min north of Himeji, on the Bantan line train, is the small town of [[Fukusaki]]. The birthplace of famous author Kunio Yanagita; Fukusaki boasts many great restaurants, small shrines and shops, in a relaxed rural setting. Yanagita's beautiful house can also be visited free of charge.
+
* [[Kakogawa]], 10 minutes by train to the west, is a relaxed city to have a break.
* [[Kakogawa]] city is also a relaxed city to have a break next to Himeji. (by train 10 min west from Himeji)
 
  
 
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Latest revision as of 23:19, 26 March 2017

Himeji (姫路; [21]) is a small city at the western edge of the Kansai region of Japan.

Understand[edit]

The finest castle in Japan is in Himeji. At one point in the late 1500's, it was the biggest castle in all of Asia.

The city has been featured in a series of Japanese and foreign films due to its picturesque old-Japan look. The information office at the JR station has props from some of these films including props from the film The Last Samurai.

Get in[edit]

Himeji Castle

By plane[edit]

Kansai International Airport (IATA: KIX is 126km southeast of Himeji and is the closest major international airport. Buses operate hourly between the airport and Himeji station (2 1/2 hours, ¥3300 one-way/¥5,150 round-trip).

Kobe Airport (IATA: UKB is 65km southeast of Himeji but has fewer flight options than Kansai. Buses and trains are available from Sannomiya Station (1 1/4 hours, ¥1,300)

Osaka Itami International Airport (IATA: ITM is 85km east of Himeji. Buses operate hourly between the airport and Himeji Station (1 1/2 hours, ¥2,160)

By train[edit]

A 700-series shinkansen train entering Himeji station.

Himeji is along the Sanyo shinkansen line (山陽新幹線) from Osaka and Kobe to Okayama and Hiroshima. The Hikari Rail Star offers frequent service to Himeji within the Sanyo region, as do the all-stopping Kodama trains. Since the station is elevated, it is possible to see Himeji Castle from a passing train.

From Tokyo, one Nozomi train per hour runs through to Himeji (3 hours, ¥15,710), otherwise you have to change at Shin-Osaka. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, there is also one Hikari train departing each hour, running through to Himeji, which you can take at no charge (3 hours and 40 minutes).

The overnight Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto from Tokyo stops at Himeji. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can book a carpeted floor space at no charge; otherwise you can travel in a compartment or room by paying the applicable room fee and surcharges.

An inexpensive method of reaching Himeji from within the Kansai region is to take one of the frequent Shinkaisoku (新快速 - Special Rapid) commuter trains on the JR Kobe line (JR 神戸線) that begins in Osaka, which charges only the price of a local train. The ride takes 38 minutes from Kobe's Sannomiya station (¥950) or 57 minutes from Osaka (¥1,450).

It is possible to travel from Osaka to Himeji using direct trains over the private Hanshin and Sanyo Railways but as this takes longer than JR (1.5 hours, ¥1,250) it is only really worthwhile for holders of the 3 day or 5 day pass for Kansai's private railway system.

From Kyoto, the Hikari shinkansen whisks travellers to Himeji in just under an hour. This trip can be taken without charge by Japan Rail Pass holders.

By bus[edit]

Willer Express operates overnight buses between Tokyo Station and Himeji, with a stop in Kobe. Buses depart Tokyo Station at 10:00PM or Shinjuku Station at 10:30PM and arrive in Himeji at 8:20AM the next morning. Prices depend on advance purchase and seat configuration and are usually in the range of ¥5,400-8,000.

Shinki Bus operates overnight buses from Tokyo (Shinjuku and Shibuya) to Himeji at a cost of ¥8,700-9,900 one way and ¥17,400 round trip. The bus leaves the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal (Basta Shinjuku) at 22:30 and arrives at the Himeji Bus Terminal at 8:00, with the return leaving Himeji at 21:30 and getting to Shinjuku at 7:00.

Get around[edit]

By foot[edit]

The Himeji Castle complex is a 15 minute walk straight down Otemae-dōri from Himeji Station. There are shopping centers and souvenir shops along the way.

By Sightseeing Loop Bus[edit]

Sightseeing Loop Bus (¥100) makes a loop around the cultural area, starting at Himeji Station, with stops near the castle, garden, and museums.

By city bus[edit]

City buses operate to sights far from the castle, such as Engyō-ji Temple.

See[edit][add listing]

Himeji Castle gun racks
  • Himeji Castle (姫路城 Himeji-jō), (An easy 15-minute walk north from the station; also accessible by bus), [1]. 9AM-5PM daily (admission is only until 4 PM) or until 6PM (admission is until 5PM) May-August. Closed December 29–31. The Main keep is limited to the first 15,000 visitors each day. Dating to 1609 and also graced with the name "White Egret Castle" (白鷺城 Shirasagi-jō), this striking white edifice is generally considered the most beautiful of Japan's castles and is one of the few that has escaped the ravages of civil war, World War II, earthquakes, and firebombings. The castle was designated as a national treasure in 1931 and was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. It is virtually the last castle in Japan that still manages to tower over the surrounding skyscrapers and office buildings. Although renovated, much of the castle looks as it did when it was first built, and in contrast to European castles, is very empty, consistent with the Japanese minimalist style of the time. On extremely busy days, you may have to wait to enter since the number of visitors at any one time is limited. Check the website for a "congestion forecast" and status. Admission: ¥1,000 adults and ¥300 children. A ¥1,040/¥360 combination ticket gets you into both the castle and the nearby Kōkoen Garden. A free guided tour in English is included ''if'' a guide happens to be available (no reservations are possible).  edit
  • Kōkoen Garden (好古園 kokoen), (Next to the western edge of Himeji Castle's outer moat), [2]. Open from 9 AM daily and closes at either 5 PM or 6PM (last admission at 4:30 PM or 5:30 PM) depending on the time of year. This magnificent collection of 9 Edo-period-style walled gardens was laid out in 1992 on a site where samurai houses once stood. The street plan and gated partitions preserve the appearance of the old residential quarter, except that within the various enclosures visitors find beautifully landscaped gardens and water features instead of noble residences. There is a tea arbour and a restaurant within the grounds, but eating and drinking outside of these places is prohibited. Admission: ¥300 adults and ¥150 children. A ¥1,040 combination ticket gets you into both Kōkoen and Himeji Castle.  edit
  • Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History, (Across the street from Himeji City Museum of Art), [3]. 10AM-5PM. Closed Mondays. Unlike most prefectural museums, this one actually has very little information about Hyogo prefecture's history, and historical artefacts also tend to be lacking, so if you really want to learn more about Hyogo, you may be disappointed. However, if you are interested in Japanese history as a whole, this museum is well worth visiting. It contains replicas of all twelve original castles remaining in Japan, has a room dedicated to festivals (while they feature Hyogo festivals, most are done nationwide), and toys throughout history. A few times a day, someone is selected by lot to be assisted in dressing in either full samurai armour or Heian-era, 12-layer kimono without restrictions on photography. There is an art gallery, as well, which often features some of Japan's most interesting artwork. The artwork is not limited to Hyogo artists. Check the website to see what will be displayed when you arrive. Entrance fee ¥200 yen (adult), ¥150 college and high school students. During special exhibitions admission changes, typically to around ¥700..  edit
  • Himeji City Museum of Art, 079-222-2288, [4]. Open 10AM to 5PM. Features artwork from local artists and European art, along with special exhibitions. ¥200 (prices are raised during special exhibitions).  edit
  • Senhime Shrine, (On the flank of Otokoyama, towards the castle). This is the only shrine in Japan associated with a castle. While the shrine itself is rather small and not very interesting, travelling up the stairs to the next lookout reveals a spectacular view of Himeji Castle.  edit
  • Himeji City Zoo, 68 Honmachi, Himeji, 670-0012 (In the park in front of the castle.), 079-284-3636, [5]. 9am-5pm. This zoo has a pretty comprehensive array of animals, but usually only one of each and all in very small cages or enclosures. Entry Y200.  edit
  • Engyo-ji Temple, (A 30 minute bus ride from Himeji castle on the orange bus #8), [6]. The beautiful temple complex is best known among the locals as the setting for part of Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai. Mount Shosha, where the temple complex is located, is particularly beautiful in the fall, when the Japanese maples change colors. ¥300 entrance + ¥900 cable car return trip.  edit
  • Tegarayama, (A short train ride away southwest of Himeji castle on the Sanyo line to Tegarayama Station), [7]. A district with a large park with a small WWII museum, an aquarium, a amusement park, a botanic garden, and a monorail museum.  edit
    • Historical Peace Center, (In Tegarayama Central Park), [8]. A small museum in remembrance of air raid victims during the Pacific War, WWII. It sits right next to a monument in the shape of a sword struck into the earth with a listing of the casualties and fatalities by prefecture in Japanese. Sobering and confronting.  edit
  • Nagoyama, within walking distance West of the castle - vast cemetery with features at the top to those foreign service personnel killed in war.
  • Japan Toy Museum, 671-3 Nakanino Kodera-cho (10km north of Himeji; take JR Bantan line to Koro Station and walk east for 15 minutes), +81 79 232 4388, [9]. 10AM-5PM. A small museum based in the home of the toy collector and founder Mr Shigeyoshi Inoue. The toys may have aged over the decades but they are still fun for anyone with an inner child. Inoue-san has collected toys and dolls from several prefectures and several countries since the 1970s. Adults: ¥500; Students: ¥400; Children: ¥200.  edit
  • Asago Art Village, (60 minutes by car or train; take the JR Bantan Line to Nii Station, then take a taxi for 10 minutes), [10]. 10AM-5PM, closed Wednesdays. A large sculpture park and museum. Adults: ¥500.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Parks[edit]

  • Himeji Central Park, (20 min by car or bus, east of Himeji castle. Buses depart from Himeji North bus terminal (Sanyo Bld., 1F) hourly.), [11]. A drive-in safari park, amusement park and car racing tracks. It is possible to rent a campsite in summer months.  edit
  • For families in particular, the park behind Himeji castle offers a decent play structure and ample space to sit down and have a picnic in the shadow of Japan's most famous castle.

Festivals and events[edit]

  • Cherry Blossom Viewing Party, usually around the second Sunday in April. Lots of koto and taiko drumming.
  • Yukata Matsuri - mid June, runs 2-3 days. Locals criticize this festival for having no roots or real reason to exist other than an opportunity for girls to dress up in summer yukata, eat delicious food from booths, and play fair games. Which is a good enough reason to go. This festival is always packed and makes for great people-watching, as many kinds of Japanese subcultures are on display.
  • Oshiro Matsuri - early august. A large parade down the main street ending at Himeji castle. There is also a big stage to see lots of dancing, which can range from either very traditional to very hip. Often it's a combination of the two.
  • Moon viewing - in September near the time of the Harvest moon. Features traditional plays and drums.
  • Nada Matsuri
  • Aboshi Matsuri

Buy[edit][add listing]

Himeji isn't particularly famous for crafts or goods. Wind chimes made of iron tongs and white leather accessories are popular higher-end Himeji souvenirs, and they can be bought in many of the department stores or along the Miyuki dori shopping arcade. There are also numerous shops along the route to the castle selling a variety of Himeji Castle and other assorted souvenirs. Additionally, the streets in the area surrounding Himeji Station are filled with shopping arcades (particularly Miyuki dori) and the usual department stores (there are several lining the way to the Castle, including Sanyo, Forus, and Yamatoyashiki.)

  • Himeji Ceramics market - in autumn
  • Piole, (Inside and around Himeji Station), [12]. There are two separate buildings of this department store. The section inside Himeji JR station, across from the ticket gates (called "Young Piole") consists of women's clothing stores, zakka (home goods) stores, and a large Junkudo book shop. The other section (outside and just in front of Himeji station) has a wider variety of shops, including women's and men's fashion, home goods, food shops, restaurants (including a Starbucks and a Nana's Green Tea), a small Tokyu Hands and a Uniqlo.  edit
  • Sanyo department store, 1 Minamimachi (Inside Sanyo station, north of Himeji JR station, on the West side of the main street), +81 79-223-1231, [13]. A standard department store with a variety of goods on multiple floors, including a small LOFT, a popular chain of stores that sells hip accessories, stickers, home goods and pop culture items  edit
  • Festa, (Northeast corner outside of Himeji station and under the station), +81 79-221-3500, [14]. A small selection of stores.  edit
  • Animate, running perpendicular to the shopping arcade next to Miyukidori (turn at the 7-11 and taiyaki corner shops), Animate has two floors for those into anime and manga. The ground floor has a large selection of manga and doujinshi for all tastes and ages. The second floor has anime goods, CD soundtracks, and DVDs.
  • Bon Marche, there are two in the station area, one on Miyukidori close to the castle, and one tucked behind and between Sanyo department store and Mitsubishi UFJ Bank (left hand side of Otemae dori). These gourmet grocery stores stock an impressive (though sometimes pricey) selection of foods, including some import foods.
  • Daiso, located above the Bon Marche behind Sanyo department store, is arguably the largest 100-yen store in Himeji. This store is made up of two floors, and sell goods that run the gamut from housewares to clothes, electronics to food - most (but not all) available for ¥100 apiece. A great place to pick up cheap souvenirs for your friends back home. Remember there is now (from April 2014) an 8% tax on the prices although some better items cost more but are clearly marked so.

Eat[edit][add listing]

As you exit the station facing the castle (North), the main shopping street (Miyuki dori) will be on your right and the main entertainment area on your left. Both areas have some fine restaurants. Himeji has a full selection of foods, from fast food (Western and Japanese) to gourmet dining. For breakfast there are countless coffee shops, including a Starbucks that has small waffles.

Budget[edit]

  • McDonald's, (On the east side of Himeji JR station), +81 79-226-2884, [15]. 24 hours/day.  edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Baobab: Oriental Food And Tea Room, 78 Konyamachi (Just east of SMBC bank on Miyuki-dori), +81 79-289-3922. 11:30AM–11PM. English menu. Good vegetarian selection.  edit
  • Koba and More, a small ramen shop with a jazz theme that is famous among the local expat crowd for its unusual Milk Ramen. Koba is the owner and ramen chef. Open 11:30-2:30 for lunch and 7:00-11:00 for dinner (6:00-11:00 on Saturdays). Closed on Thursdays. Walking towards the castle on the main road (Otemae-Dori), Take a right when you get to Yamato Yashiki department store. Take the second left. Kobe and More is on the left, look for the hanging beaded curtain.
  • Lamp Cafe, is a small locally owned shop that has wonderful burgers and a cool casual atmosphere. They are open from 11- 8pm and closed on Mondays. If you are craving some western food or just looking for a relaxing cafe this is a great place to try. Follow the main street, Otamae Dori, on the left side walking north and walk toward the castle. When you are almost to the castle look for the sign and walk down the alley to your left. This place is a little hard to find but worth looking for.
  • Sakura-saku, Honmachi 68, Himeji 670-0917. Vegetarian-friendly restaurant (also a kind of greengrocer's) with nice open-air frontage and view of Himeji castle. You can get a fantastic veggie meal of (for example) rice with peas, tofu steak and pumpkin, pickles, soup, dessert with coffee, and all the green tea you can drink, all for ¥1000. From the intersection in front of the castle, facing towards JR Himeji station, walk down the main street towards the station, go right at the first set of traffic lights you reach, and it's a few buildings down on your left.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Bars[edit]

Bars tend to be frequented mostly by foreigners living in the city.

  • Hosanna Public House, +81 79-240-7088, [16]. An Irish-English type pub, except that the city's small Irish population tend to avoid it at all costs. Serving good food in a warm and relaxing setting. Expensive and a bit lifeless but some members of staff may speak English.  edit
  • Standing Bar Nobu, 71 Tatemachi. A tiny, cramped little bar with English-speaking Japanese and foreign staff. It may be small; but Nobu is a friendly place. Frequented mainly by a younger crowd, mostly English teachers and foreign engineers working for one of the big factories in Southern Himeji.  edit
  • Teeda, 440-1 Chonotsubo, +81 79-299-5860. 11AM-6PM, Closed T-W. Teeda is wonderful creative cafe/pub, with great asian fusion foods, amazing staff and great vibe.  edit

Cafes[edit]

  • Starbucks, Located on the first floor of the Forus shopping building.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are many hotels near the train station. Another possibility is to sleep in Kakogawa, and prolong your trip into the country side of Hyogo.

Budget[edit]

  • Himeji 588 Guesthouse Hostel, Honmachi 68 (Near the Egret Center on the Miyuki-Dori shopping arcade), +81 79-227-6994, [17]. Traditional tatami rooms with futon and a shared bathroom and common space. The first floor has a small cafe that serves free coffee and tea. WiFi, bike rental and laundry services are available. Dormitory: ¥2,700; Double: ¥3,000-3,500.  edit
  • Engakudou Guesthouse Hostel (ゲストハウス 縁楽堂), (Just west of the train station), +81 90 9717 6763 (), [18]. Old tiny but cosy house with tatami rooms and friendly owner. Dormitory: ¥2,500; Double: ¥3,000-3,500. (34.84017,134.68959) edit

Mid-range[edit]

  • Hotel Nikko Himeji, 100 Minamiekimaecho (South side of the JR train station), +81 79-222-2231, [19]. A pleasant hotel for the business traveler. ¥10,000-15,000.  edit
  • Toyoko Inn, 97 Minami-Ekimae-cho (Next to the train station), [20]. Simple business hotel. Rooms are small, but the price includes internet in the room and Japanese-style breakfast. Double: ¥8,000.  edit

Get out[edit]

  • Okayama is 50km west and includes, the brooding black Crow Castle, and the lovely Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3 gardens.
  • Kurashiki, near Okayama, is famous for its large Bikan Historic District with many well-preserved buildings from the Edo Period, as well as the famous Ohara Museum of Art which contains a large amount of works by the most famous European artists.
  • Tsuyama, a quiet town with rich history, is famous for Kakuzan Park, a great place for cherry blossom viewing, Joto Street, and the beautiful Shurakuen Garden.
  • Bizen features museums that display the history of Japanese sword making and pottery and Bizen pottery and swords are renowned throughout Japan as being of the best quality since ancient times.
  • Kobe is a port city, with the scenic Harborland and Meriken Park around the port and also has theHanshin-Awaji Earthquake Memorial Museum to learn more about the 1995 earthquake and how the city dealt with it.
  • Takarazuka is home to Japan's all-female theater troupe, the Takarazuka Revue but the plays are well-done and the actresses are so convincing, you may forget that the male characters are not really men. The city also home to the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum, which features works from all of his most famous manga.
  • Fukusaki is a small town 30 minutes north of Himeji, on the Bantan line train. The birthplace of famous author Kunio Yanagita, which can be visited for free; Fukusaki boasts many great restaurants, small shrines and shops, in a relaxed rural setting.
  • Kakogawa, 10 minutes by train to the west, is a relaxed city to have a break.


Routes through Himeji
HiroshimaAioi  W noframe E  Nishi-AkashiShin-Osaka&#13;
OkayamaTatsuno  W noframe E  KakogawaKobe&#13;
OkayamaTatsuno  W noframe E  Kakogawa north → Kobe


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