Definitely worth my day!
Decided to pay Himeji a visit on a spur of the moment choice this morning since it was sunny, I had some extra days on my hand since Yoshino was done, Miyajima was not sunny today and it was only 30 minutes away from Kyoto by Shinkansen!
One of the things you’ll notice when you arrive there is that the castle is only a 15 minutes’ walk from the train station and the castle is actually the heart of the whole city with a rich and fascinating history dating back centuries.
Like most major cities in Japan, public transport is very efficient and affordable but if you want to really see what Himeji has to offer then its best to stay off public transport and just walk all the way to the castle.
You’ll see rows and rows of shops, beautiful landscape as well as elegant urban street art statues all around. For city that has so much ancient history, it seem it has no trouble adopting today’s many new ways of life as well.
The tour of Himeji doesn’t start until 9am, you can buy a ticket for 600 yen from either the ticket counter or from one of the ticket machines found there. What you’ll learn and see from this tour is that the current Himeji castle you see here actually consist of numerous changes through history as ownership/retainership changed from one person to another through history.
With each changes and addition by different lord through history, incredible as well as fascinating stories also accompany them. These stories are told on sign boards located throughout the castle detailing the unique stories for each part of the castle and where possible with proof of them such as the mill stone donated to the lord by a poor old lady still lodged into the castle wall.
Another thing you may notice about the castle is how much work and effort was spent in its design as well as function. This is only surpassed by conservation work and effort being made now to preserve the castle, while the castle was a formidable structure in its day but time has shown that there is no stone it cannot wear. Hence continuous work in preserving as well as restoring the castle especially the interior are always being carried in segments so as to not disrupt the daily tours. Even on a week day there was about 4 to 5 tour being held at any one time by different groups ranging from Chinese to even Indians while I was there on my own.
So if you want to see an incredible piece of Japanese architecture history then do pay Himeji as well as it’s castle a visit, the castle consist of 5 floors upward and each floor’s design is carefully explained by the many sign boards throughout the castle thus further enhancing the cultural experience.