Visiting (the new-and-improved) Himeji Castle
Back in May this year, a few friends and I went to visit the renovated Himeji Castle, which had re-opened in March to cherry blossoms and great media coverage. We had hoped delaying our visit would help thin out the tourist crowds, but it was still very busy on the day we went.
The walls of the “White Egret” Castle
Himeji-jo is one of the most recognizable cultural treasures of Japan (and is, of course, a UNESCO site as well). The castle is famed for its white facade, which makes a grand visual impact on sunny days. The castle complex is the biggest of all the ones I’ve visited so far, and there was a fair bit of walking and going up and down stairs along the way. The true beauty of Himeji is very subtle (it’s all in the details) — to the casual visitor, it’s not noticeable unless you visit a few other castles first and then go to Himeji.
(Click an image if you want to see it in slideshow-view, with comments ↓ )
The moat and entrance to Himeji Castle
The main keep of Himeji
Just a glimpse of the size of the complex
A map of the entire complex
We could not resist the cute city mascot (oh Japan!)
The castle’s full name was posted next to the Diamond Gate
Hooray for detailed explanations in proper English!
The steep stone foundations and the high walls of a fighting castle
The walls had various windows for archers (and later guns) to shoot through
The wide steps were a little annoying to walk across, but on horseback it would’ve been fun (and easy)
Following the crowds into the keep
There were lots of models and signs scattered throughout the castle (this was one of them)
This is another model. The intricate way the beams are assembled together is impressive!
The view from the second floor
Another outing with KT
I really liked these lanterns…
True to the original design, the current castle has really low ceilings and scary, steep stairs
Looking out from the third floor
The view (it was a beautiful day!)
The former armory with all its mounted weapon racks
The castle is just down the main road from the train station — very convenient!
Peering down from the fourth floor
View of the Himeji Castle grounds, and the modern city of Himeji behind the trees
One of the benefits of a recent renovation: incorporating smartphone technology into the castle visit experience
On the opposite side from where we started
Exiting the keep
One last picture, just for a size comparison
At the time that we went, there was a limit on the number of daily visitors, so I would suggest going there early to avoid disappointment (and some of the crowds)! There are plenty of English signs around Himeji Station, and the castle is visible almost immediately after you exit and follow the curve of the main road.
Cheers to a memorable day!
In the end, I’m glad we were in Japan together just in time to visit Himeji after its 5-year-long renovation (my friends have since returned to their respective home countries). One more thing crossed off my bucket list, hooray!