We got moving fairly early so that we could get our tickets for the castle as soon as the ticket office opened. There is a combo ticket that includes Kokoen Garden so we purchased that one. It’s really busy with tourists this time of year due to the cherry blossom season and Himeji Castle is one of the premier viewing areas so it’s best to go early if you can.
Himeji Castle is widely known as Japan’s most spectacular and best preserved castle, it’s a National Treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is compared to a white heron and sometimes called ‘White Heron Castle’. It was interesting to see how the high castle walls were built in a fan shaped curve making scaling the walls extremely difficult, you could imagine how effective these walls were at keeping the enemy out.
As soon as we entered the castle grounds we made our way to the main keep. There are 6 levels and each one offered nice views over Himeji but there wasn’t too much to see inside other than the architecture.
There are many winding paths connecting the castle grounds and it’s nice to just stroll around, especially during the cherry blossom season.
Since this is a premier cherry blossom viewing area, many locals come here to ‘hanami’ which literally means ‘cherry blossom viewing’. They lay tarps on the ground, eat food and drink sake, and just simply enjoy the beauty of the blossoms. This group of locals noticed us watching and smiling at them and then invited us over to their tarp to ‘hanami’. They were so welcoming and kind, within minutes we were handed paper cups filled with sake and some of their favourite snacks were laid out in front of us. We slipped off our shoes, sat down, spent some time with them, sipping our sake, nibbling on some food, and asking them questions about their life. Meeting these lovely people made our day and was an absolutely perfect start to our travels in Japan.
The castle garden ‘Kokoen’ is nice to see and quite a quick walk through.
The pathway along the moat is a nice stroll to see the cherry blossoms.
I will also mention that it’s great to see the castle at night, it’s beautiful and makes for some great photos.
Himeji was a great start to our travels in Japan and I highly recommend a visit here.
Where we stayed: Comfort Hotel Himeji 👍