About an hour and forty minutes by local train from Osaka Station by local train, Himeji is a medium-sized castle city with a relative coziness about it that makes it a popular destination. One of the keys to understanding the city lies in the fact that it is so close to Kobe. The effect of this is that some of that city’s cosmopolitan qualities have found a home in Himeji.
The wide boulevard in front of Himeji Station not only leads to the castle but is the main artery from which shop-laden side streets branch out into a maze of possibilities for exploration.
Visiting UNESCO recognized world heritage sites is a travel trend that continues to pick up speed, and Himeji is fortunate in that its castle is on this prestigious list. Himeji Castle sits atop a hill and completely dominates the landscape. The interior of the castle is every bit as complex and elegant as its exterior, with a labyrinth of rooms with some relics that tell the story of feudal Japan.
After over five years of maintenance work was completed in 2015, the castle looks even more spectacular. The main noticeable difference from the outside is that it is now glowingly white, a fact that is compounded on sunny days.
Next to the castle is Himeji Zoo and Kokoen Garden, both of which are nice places to have a walk or just a bit of rest. The zoo has all the animal attractions that you would typically expect as well as family-oriented rides and snack shops.
Mt. Shosha Engyoji Temple is an over 1,000 year old Buddhist complex that sits on a mountain top at the northern tip of the city. The main building was actually featured in the Hollywood film “The Last Samurai”. Access is possible by bus and a ropeway that runs up Mt. Shosha.
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