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Himeji

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[[Image:Himeji_castle_frontview.jpg|thumb|240px|Himeji Castle]]
'''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. 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.
==Get in==
==See==
 
[[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>
 * <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 4 PM daily or 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. 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> {{disclaimerboxcautionbox|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 most the entire main building of the castle until renovations are completed. As of <b>May 12Sept 1, 20102011</b>, the interior of the main keep was closed to visitors, but and the structure itself was not is covered up. There is scaffolding For an additional 200 yen on one side top of the 300 yen entry fee, you can take an elevator to the top of the main keepto 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/ }}
* <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="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="" emailurl="" hours="" price="¥300 entrance + ¥900 cable car return trip" faxlat="" urllong="" hoursemail="" pricefax="">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>
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==
Himeji isn't particularly known famous for crafts or goods. Wind chimes made of iron tongs and white leather accessories are popular higher-end Himeji souvenirs, but there 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. * '''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).
* '''Festa''', located above and below on the northeast corner outside of Himeji station, Festa has a wide variety of small shops and restaurants. More specifically, the 2nd floor of the station building houses a large selection of female clothing stores and the 3rd floor is home to Junkudo, a bookstore that has a fairly large selection of English language books, comics, and magazines, as well as a good selection of Japanese textbooks.
* '''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.
 
* '''Hon to Ongaku no Mori''', translates to "Book and Music Forest". Accessible from both Otemae dori and Miyuki dori (above the Miyuki dori Bon Marche), this store has, unsurprisingly, a large selection of new and used books and CDs, but also has a large selection of new and used DVDs and games.
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).
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.
 
* '''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.
* '''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.
* '''The Blue Plate CafeStarbucks''', Located on the first floor of the Forus shopping building. * '''Subway''', the American sandwich chain, is a 5-minute walk north from JR Himeji station on Miyuki dori (B1, under the Subway sandwich store) is a small, friendly restaurant with a mostly Western-style menu. Lunch includes soup, salad, unlimited bread, choice of entree, dessert and coffee or tea and starts at ¥1200. Dinner starts at ¥1500, and there is also a cake set available in the afternoons for those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth. Only the owner/head chef speaks passable English, unfortunately, but they have an English menu.
There is a 24 hour McDonald's on the Miyuki dorieast side of Himeji JR station, for those of you who fancy something quick, simple and recognisablerecognizable.
==Drink==
Himeji has three two main barsthat cater to foreigners. The These bars tend to be frequented mostly by foreigners living in the city, and there is little or no indigenous night life. The city has many Westerners living there, and your choice of bar should depend on the type of people you like drinking with.
* '''Tiger Pub''', Uomachi-dori (''a few blocks away from the station''). The biggest gay community congregates here in this local ''gaijin'' (foreigners) bar. The customers tend to be older ex-pats and office workers who, while they are friendly, can come across as a bit desperate and lonely. Tiger can be a bit messy on busy nights.* '''Nobu''', close to Tiger Pub, [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 than in Tiger, mostly English teachers, who are fresh college graduates from America, Canada, Australia, Britain and Ireland.
* '''Hosanna Irish/British Pub''', also close to Tiger 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 however over-priced expensive and a bit lifeless and but some members of the staff don't speak very good English. The Guinness is below par, but better than in Tiger.*<drink name="Club Roxy" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" url="http://www.clubroxyhimeji.com/" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Club Roxy, Himeji's home of Dance, Soul & Hip Hop. Have a great night in himeji's premier dance club</drink>
==Sleep==
* <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>
*<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="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="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==
* 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.
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{{usable}}
{{isInIsPartOf|Hyogo}} 
[[ja:姫路市]]
[[zh:姬路市]]
[[wts:Category:Himeji]]
[[WikiPedia: Himeji, Hyogo]]
[[World66:asia/northeastasia/japan/honshu/himeji]]

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