Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle: The Best-Preserved Castle in japan


Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, is a remarkable piece of Japanese history. Considered one of Japan’s 12 remaining original castles, it holds great significance and is a must-visit for anyone interested in the country’s rich cultural heritage. This magnificent fortress is not only a Japanese National Treasure but also a designated World Heritage site. With its stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and rich history, Himeji Castle offers visitors a unique glimpse into Japan’s past.

Don’t Miss

When visiting Himeji Castle, there are several attractions and features that you shouldn’t miss. Firstly, the castle’s grounds boast over 1,000 cherry trees that bloom spectacularly each spring. This creates a breathtaking display of pink hues, attracting visitors from all over the world. The sight of these cherry blossoms in full bloom is truly a sight to behold.

Another highlight of Himeji Castle is its iconic seven-story castle keep, which is over 400 years old. This impressive structure stands tall and imposing, serving as a testament to the architectural prowess of its time. Visitors can explore the keep and discover its historical significance, as well as admire the panoramic views of the surrounding area from its top floor.

Additionally, the castle is home to the Kokoen Garden, a meticulously designed Edo period-style garden that showcases the beauty of Japan’s changing seasons. With nine separate walled gardens, each representing a different style, Kokoen Garden is a tranquil oasis that offers a peaceful retreat for visitors to enjoy.

How to Get There

Himeji Castle is conveniently located just one kilometer down Otemae-dori street from the north exit of Himeji Station. Visitors can reach the castle by either taking a leisurely 15-to-20-minute walk or a quick five-minute bus ride from the station. The castle’s accessibility makes it easily reachable for tourists and locals alike.

600 Years of History

Himeji Castle has a rich history that dates back over 600 years. Originally built as a strategic defense point to the west of Kyoto, the first set of fortifications was constructed in the 1400s. However, the present castle complex that we see today was completed in 1609 under the supervision of daimyo Lord Ikeda Terumasa. The castle is a testament to the architectural and engineering skills of the time, with over 80 buildings connected by a series of labyrinth-like winding paths.

Free to Enter Up to a Point

The main entrance to Himeji Castle is through the Otemon Gate, which grants access to the admission-free part of the castle known as San-no-maru. This area of the castle features a wide lawn adorned with cherry trees, making it a popular spot for cherry blossom picnics during the spring season. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the castle grounds without any entry fee, immersing themselves in the natural surroundings and taking in the stunning views.

The Main Keep

To explore the main keep of Himeji Castle, visitors must pass through the Hishi Gate and purchase a ticket for 1,000 yen. The narrow lanes of the inner castle lead to the six-story main keep, where visitors can ascend to the top floor. As you climb up the keep, you’ll notice that each floor becomes progressively smaller. The sparsely furnished rooms are adorned with informative signs that explain the castle’s architectural and defensive features. On the top floor, a small shrine and viewpoints provide panoramic views of Himeji Castle and the city beyond. The main keep offers visitors a chance to delve deeper into the castle’s history and experience its grandeur firsthand.

Cherry Blossoms

One of the highlights of visiting Himeji Castle is the opportunity to witness the enchanting beauty of over 1,000 cherry trees in full bloom. While the outer grounds of the castle allow visitors to enjoy the blossoms free of charge, there is a fee to enter the inner castle grounds during the cherry blossom season. The sight of these delicate pink blossoms against the backdrop of the castle’s white walls is a truly mesmerizing experience. However, it’s important to note that during peak blossom season, Himeji Castle tends to be crowded with locals and tourists alike, making it less ideal for those seeking a more peaceful visit. Additionally, access to the main keep may be limited during this period, so planning your visit accordingly is advisable.

Himeji Castle Garden

Adjacent to Himeji Castle is the Kokoen Garden, a stunning Japanese garden that complements the castle’s beauty. Opened in 1992 to commemorate the centenary of Himeji City, Kokoen Garden consists of nine separate walled gardens designed in various styles of the Edo period. Each garden offers a unique ambiance and showcases the diverse elements of Japanese landscape design. Visitors can stroll through these meticulously maintained gardens, admiring the carefully arranged plants, serene ponds, and traditional teahouses. Kokoen Garden provides a peaceful escape from the bustling city and serves as a perfect complement to the grandeur of Himeji Castle.

Boat Rides

Himeji Castle is surrounded by moats, with the inner moat, known as goku-bori, being the only one of the original three to survive intact. Visitors have the opportunity to take a boat ride along the inner moat on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. These boat rides provide a unique perspective of the castle’s fortifications and offer a tranquil experience as you glide along the water. To access the moat, visitors must pass through the Hishi Gate, where they can purchase boat ride tickets for 1,000 yen. With approximately 10 rides available per day, this is a special experience that allows visitors to appreciate the castle’s defensive features from a different vantage point.

Recently Restored

Himeji Castle underwent a five-year restoration project starting in 2010 to ensure its preservation for future generations. The castle was fully reopened to the public on March 27, 2015, showcasing its restored glory. The restoration project aimed to maintain the castle’s original appearance while implementing necessary repairs and structural reinforcements. Today, visitors can explore Himeji Castle and experience its historical significance in all its splendor.


Himeji Castle stands as a testament to Japan’s rich history and architectural prowess. With its status as one of the best-preserved castles in the country, it offers a unique and immersive experience for visitors. From the breathtaking cherry blossoms that adorn its grounds to the awe-inspiring main keep and the serene beauty of Kokoen Garden, Himeji Castle is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, nature lovers, and anyone seeking a glimpse into Japan’s fascinating past. Its accessibility from Himeji Station and the various attractions it offers make it a top choice for tourists, both domestic and international. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or simply the beauty of nature, Himeji Castle is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Address And Maps Location:

68 Hon-machi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo-ken

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