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Travel Guide to Himeji, Japan

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 5, 2023

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Himeji, Japan, is a beautiful city located in the Kansai region of the country. It is home to some of the most stunning and iconic sights in Japan, including Himeji Castle, one of the most visited castles in the world. The castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of Japan's most beautiful and well-preserved castles.

The city has much to offer travelers, from its rich history and culture to its modern attractions. Visitors can explore the many temples and shrines that dot the landscape or participate in traditional festivals such as Setsubun or Tanabata. There are also plenty of museums and galleries, and shopping districts with traditional Japanese crafts and souvenirs.

Himeji is also known for its delicious cuisine, with various restaurants offering everything from sushi to ramen. For those looking for something more adventurous, plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, rafting, and fishing are available nearby.

Top 10 Attractions & Things to Do in Himeji, Japan

The city of Himeji is filled with cultural attractions and activities, making it a great place to visit. Here are the top 10 things to do while in Himeji:

1. Visit Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan

Visiting Himeji Castle in Japan is an experience like no other. Located in the city of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, the castle is one of the most impressive sights in Japan. The castle was built at the beginning of the 17th century when Japanese architecture techniques had reached their peak. It is also known as the White Heron Castle due to its elegant white appearance and is a designated National Treasure and World Heritage Site.

When visiting Himeji Castle, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, planning your visit ahead of time is essential as English-guided tours are only available irregularly. Secondly, wear comfortable shoes as you'll need to climb up a few flights of stairs to get to the top. Lastly, don't forget your camera! The views from the top are breathtaking, and you'll want to capture every moment.


2. Explore Engyo-ji Temple

Engyo-ji Buddhist temple, Mt. Shosha, Japan

Located at the northern edge of Himeji City, Mount Shosha is home to Engyo-ji, a temple that has a history of over 1000 years. It is part of the 33-sacred temple Kannon pilgrimage route in Saigoku and Mani-den.

The temple complex features several buildings and structures scattered across the mountain. The atmosphere of Engyo-ji Temple is peaceful and calming. Visitors can take in the beautiful fall foliage while exploring the grounds or retreat to one of the main buildings for some quiet reflection. The temple was even featured in "The Last Samurai" as a winter hideaway. Engyo-ji Temple offers something for everyone - from its historical significance to its natural beauty.

3. Take a Stroll Through Koko-en Garden

Stone bridge in Japanese garden Koko-en in Himeji, Japan

Take a stroll through Koko-en Garden in Himeji, Japan, and experience the beauty of traditional Japanese gardens. Located just a five-minute walk from Himeji Castle, Koko-en Garden comprises nine separate walled gardens designed in various styles reflective of the Edo period.

The garden features ponds and springs against the backdrop of the castle, making it an ideal spot for visitors to relax and take in the scenery. Koko-en Garden was built in 1992 to commemorate Himeji City's 100th anniversary and is now one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Hyogo Prefecture. Visitors can enjoy various activities, such as boat rides on the pond or tea ceremonies at designated areas within the garden.

4. Enjoy the Views at Mt. Shosha Ropeway

Sunrise of Shosha mountain in Himeji

Mt. Shosha Ropeway in Himeji, Japan, is a must-see destination for travelers looking to experience the beauty of nature. Located at the edge of Himeji City, Mt. Shosha can be accessed only 30 minutes from the city center by bus and ropeway. With an elevation of 371 meters, it is home to Engyoji Temple, which has over 1000 years old history.

The ropeway offers stunning views of the surrounding area and is one of the most convenient methods of transportation to visit Engyoji Temple. Once you reach the top, you can enjoy a stroll through the temple grounds or take advantage of free walking sticks for those who want to explore further.

5. Check Out the Himeji City Museum of Art

If you're looking for a unique cultural experience in Himeji, Japan, you should check out the Himeji City Museum of Art. Located just east of the iconic Himeji Castle, this red brick building was originally an army warehouse and has since been converted into a museum that houses a variety of art pieces from Japanese and international artists.

The permanent collection includes paintings, sculptures, and crafts, as well as works from the Kunitsuna Kuki Collection, which features pieces from Monet to Matisse. The museum also hosts various exhibitions and events throughout the year. Visitors can take photos of most artwork with prior permission.

6. Enjoy Nature at Himeji Central Park

Himeji Central Park in Himeji, Japan, is the perfect place to enjoy nature and have a fun day out. With an amusement park, safari park, and summer pool, there's something for everyone. The safari park has over 1,200 animals and birds of various species from all around the world.

You can take a guided tour or explore on your own. There are also plenty of activities to do in the amusement park, such as roller coasters, Ferris wheels, carousels, and more! The summer pool is excellent for cooling off on hot days with its slides and water play areas.

At Himeji Central Park, you can enjoy ice skating during winter. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced skater, there's something for everyone to enjoy. For those looking for a more relaxed experience, plenty of walking trails throughout the park offer stunning views of the surrounding area.

7. Have Fun at Taiyo Park

Taiyo Park in Himeji, Japan, is an excellent place for travelers to have fun. It's a family-friendly destination with plenty of attractions and activities to keep everyone entertained. The park has a wide variety of natural scenery, including the Castle Neuschwanstein in Germany at the summit and an "area of stone assurance program" for walking or riding on the monorail.

There are also carnival entertainment and fun rides for daredevils and families alike. For those looking to relax, there are covered shopping areas nearby where you can take a stroll. Hotels near Taiyo Park offer comfortable accommodation options for visitors who want to stay close by.

8. Explore the Aquatic World at Himeji City Aquarium

Located in Tegarayama Central Park, this aquarium is an excellent place for travelers to learn about marine life. The main building has sea turtles, penguins, and schools of fish worldwide. There are plenty of hands-on activities for younger children, such as touch pools and interactive displays.

You can also find out more about the local environment with educational talks and presentations. The aquarium also offers special events throughout the year, such as night tours and seasonal exhibitions. Visitors can get close to some animals with feeding sessions and guided tours. There's an outdoor area where you can observe birds and other wildlife.

9. Get a Taste of Culture at the Himeji City Museum of Literature

If you're looking for a unique cultural experience in Japan, then the Himeji City Museum of Literature is the perfect place to visit. Located just west of Himeji Castle, this museum was designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando and features uniquely circular yet cubic buildings. Inside, visitors can explore the works of authors and scholars from the Harima region, as well as get a taste of local culture.

The museum also offers magnificent views of Himeji Castle from its rooftop terrace. With plenty of interactive exhibits and activities, visitors can learn about the history and culture of this area engagingly. The museum also has a library with books on various literature-related topics, making it an ideal spot for book lovers.

10. Experience Traditional Crafts at Shosha Handicraft Museum

Experience the traditional crafts of Himeji, Japan, at the Shosha Handicraft Museum. Located in the bamboo grove north of Mt. Shosha Ropeway, this museum offers a unique opportunity to explore the history and culture of the area.

Admission is only 310 yen for the general public, making it an affordable way to experience Japanese culture. The museum features works by Kosho Shimizu, a native of the area and high priest of Todai-ji Temple. Visitors can view traditional arts and crafts displays from Himeji and learn about their history and significance. The museum also offers workshops where visitors can create craft pieces to take home.

Top 5 Day Trip Ideas from Himeji, Japan

Himeji, Japan, is an excellent place for travelers to explore. From historical sites and stunning nature to exciting activities and local cuisine, there's something for everyone in this vibrant city. Here are the top five day trips from Himeji that you should consider during your visit:

1. Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Tour

Nachi Falls in Nachikatsuura, Wakayama, Japan

From Himeji, Japan you can take a 2-hour drive then go on the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Tour, a fully-guided tour that takes travelers through some of the most beautiful and spiritual landscapes in the country. The tour is suitable for anyone who is a regular walker and able to participate in four to six hours of walking per day. The Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route starts from Tanabe on the western coast of the Kii Peninsula and traverses east into the mountains towards the Kumano grand shrines.

Along this route, travelers will have plenty of opportunities to soak in hot springs, dine on delicious local cuisine, interact with locals, and explore ancient temples. The experience culminates in a visit to Ise Grand Shrine, one of Japan's most important sacred sites. This shrine is dedicated to Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess who is said to be an ancestor of Japan's imperial family.

2. Setouchi Sea Fishing Experience

Located near Himeji, Japan, this experience is perfect for travelers seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The ferry ride to Ieshima Island takes about 50 minutes and offers stunning sea views. Once on the island, you'll have access to some of the best fishing spots in Japan.

You can catch seabreams, Hong Kong groupers, and other fresh seafood used as ingredients for dinner! The experienced fishermen will provide all the necessary equipment and teach you how to fish like a pro. They will also help you prepare your catch to enjoy it later. If you're feeling adventurous, plenty of other activities are available such as kayaking and snorkeling.

3. Historic City of Kurashiki

Canal Tour in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, Japan

Kurashiki is a historic city located about a 1 and a half-hour drive from Himeji, Japan. It's known for its well-preserved traditional architecture and its picturesque canals. A Kurashiki City Day Tour is the perfect way to explore this beautiful city and discover its many attractions.

The tour includes visits to several of the city's most popular sites, including the Ohara Museum of Art, which houses an extensive collection of Japanese art from the Edo period; the Bikan Historical Quarter, which features traditional buildings and streets lined with willow trees; and the Kurashiki Canal, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

The tour also includes stops at local shops and restaurants where you can sample some of Kurashiki's delicious cuisine. Your guide will provide interesting facts about each site you visit and helpful tips on making the most out of your day in Kurashiki.

4. Kobe

Kobe Skyline in Japan

A day tour of Kobe from Himeji, Japan, is a great way to explore the city and its attractions. From the iconic Ikuta Shrine, which enshrines a deity of marriage and love, to the bustling Kobe Chinatown, one of the most significant Chinatowns in Japan, there's plenty to see and do. For those looking for an adventure, Kobe Harborland offers stunning views of the city skyline and various activities such as boat rides and shopping.

Foodies can also indulge in some delicious Kobe beef at Steakland or Wakkoqu. For those looking for more cultural experiences, Kitano-cho is a great place to explore with its traditional architecture and cobblestone streets. Visitors can also stroll through the Sannomiya area or visit Kawasaki World for fun activities. After all that sightseeing, you can relax at one of the many onsens in Kobe before heading back to Himeji.

5. Osaka

Osaka Tower and view of the neon advertisements in Shinsekai district, Osaka

The vibrant city of Osaka is a great place to visit from Himeji. Located just an hour away by train, this bustling metropolis has plenty of attractions for travelers. A few must-see attractions include the Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous castles; Universal Studios Japan, a popular theme park with thrilling rides and shows; and the Umeda Sky Building, which offers spectacular views of the city from its observation deck.

Foodies will love exploring Dotonbori and sampling some of Osaka's famous dishes, such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki. Shopping enthusiasts can explore Shinsaibashi-suji, a famous shopping street with plenty of shops selling clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. Osaka also has some great nightlife spots for those looking to let loose after a long day of sightseeing.

Top 3 Hotels to Stay at in Himeji, Japan

Downtown Himeji city in Japan

There are plenty of excellent hotels to choose from when visiting Himeji, Japan. Here are three of the best:

1. Ueyama Ryokan

Ueyama Ryokan is a 300-year-old historic hot spring hotel in Himeji, Japan. It has served guests since 1874 and is proud of its long history and tradition. The tranquil ryokan offers guests a unique experience with its traditional Japanese inn atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. The hotel features free Wi-Fi in all rooms, a car park free of charge, and large public open-air baths facing the garden. Guests can also enjoy 30 minutes drive to the Himeji Castle or Ankokuji Temple from the hotel. Ueyama Ryokan is highly rated by travelers on TripAdvisor for its excellent service and comfortable rooms.

2. Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji

Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji is a modern 3-star hotel located in the heart of Himeji, Japan. This hotel offers guests a great location, just a 5-minute walk from JR Himeji Station and close to the World Heritage Site of Himeji Castle. The hotel provides excellent amenities for travelers, including free Wi-Fi in all rooms, a fitness center, private parking, and a restaurant. Guests can also enjoy the convenience of Shimmei Shrine, being minutes away. The rooms are clean and modern, with excellent showers and comfortable beds. Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji staff are friendly and helpful, ensuring your stay is enjoyable.

3. Richmond Hotel Himeji

Richmond Hotel Himeji is the perfect destination for travelers exploring Himeji, Japan. Located just a 6-minute walk from Himeji Station South Exit, this 3-star hotel offers comfortable and convenient accommodations. Guests can enjoy free WiFi, breakfast, and onsite parking. The helpful staff ensures that your stay is enjoyable and stress-free. The hotel is also conveniently located near many of the area's attractions, including Himeji Castle and Omiya Hachiman Shrine. Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, Richmond Hotel Himeji has something for everyone. With rates starting at just $45 per night, it's tough to find a better deal in the area!

Top 5 Places To Eat in Himeji, Japan

The city of Himeji, Japan, is home to some of the best food in the country. Here are five must-try restaurants when visiting:

1. Sakurasaku

Sakurasaku in Himeji, Japan, is a vegan-friendly restaurant and café conveniently located near Himeji Castle. This traditional Japanese place offers a variety of teishoku lunch sets, which are all vegan-friendly. The male owner speaks little English, but the woman working there is amiable and helpful. The atmosphere is cozy and inviting, with plenty of seating for larger groups. The menu includes a variety of traditional Japanese dishes such as tempura, udon noodles, and sushi rolls. All dishes are freshly prepared using organic ingredients sourced from local farms. Sakurasaku also has a grocery store section where you can find fresh produce and other items to take home with you.

2. Kushiyaki Kobe Beef

Located in the heart of Himeji City, this restaurant offers an array of delicious dishes featuring real Kobe beef or other types of Wagyu beef. From hamburgers and rice bowls to skewers, there's something for everyone here. Prices are reasonable, too, with a portion of Kobe beef costing around 2000 Yen. The restaurant also has excellent reviews on TripAdvisor and Google Maps, with customers praising its fast service and tasty food.

3. Memme

This restaurant serves delicious udon noodles and other traditional dishes, all made with fresh ingredients. The menu also features a variety of side dishes and desserts to satisfy every palate. The atmosphere at Memme is warm and inviting, with friendly staff who are always willing to help you find the perfect meal. And if you're looking for something special, check out their kitsune udon – it's a local favorite! For those who want to learn more about the history of udon noodles in Japan, Memme offers tours of their noodle factory, where visitors can watch their chefs make the noodles from scratch.

4. Totoro

In the Hyogo Prefecture, Totoro is a standing sushi restaurant serving delicious Japanese cuisine. People often have to wait an hour or more before getting inside and enjoying the food. The restaurant is known for its unique atmosphere and friendly staff. For those who are fans of Studio Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro, there are plenty of places to explore in Himeji related to the movie. Dondoko Forest is dedicated to the world of Totoro, and Hill of Youth features the antique shop from Whisper of the Heart.

5. Kokoromi

Kokoromi in Himeji, Japan, is a must-visit for any traveler looking to experience the best of Japanese sake. Located just a stone's throw from the south entrance of Himeji Station, Kokoromi offers an extraordinary variety of over 300 different types of sake from Hyogo, Himeji's prefecture. The modern and sophisticated standing bar provides a unique atmosphere for visitors to sample local Nada-no-sake and other varieties. For those who want to learn about sake tasting, Kokoromi also offers workshops conducted in English by Chef Sachiko Saeki that last one and a half hours. With its extensive selection of sake, Kokoromi will surely make your visit to Himeji unforgettable.

Final Thoughts

Samurai Himeji Castle with Red Fall Leafs in Japan

Himeji, Japan, is a city full of culture and history. From the iconic Himeji Castle to the tranquil beauty of Koko-en Garden, there's something for everyone in this unique destination. Whether you're looking for an adventure or just relaxing and enjoying some beautiful scenery, Himeji has it all. So don't wait any longer - plan your trip today! Make sure to add these spots to your must-visit list; they are worth exploring while visiting this fantastic city! We wish you all the best on your trip, have fun and take care!

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