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Travel Guide to Himeji, Japan

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All the cities of Japan are deemed to be great hubs. They accommodate excellent gourmet facilities, have exceptional restaurants and top-tier attractions, and render infinite shopping opportunities. However, some cities are home to unique landmarks and experiences you can only find if you visit. Himeji is no exception!


A city in the Kansai region of Japan, Himeji is the second-largest city in the Hyogo Prefecture, followed by Kobe. Himeji has gained worldwide recognition because it houses the 17th-century Himeji Castle. During the Second World War, when the Japanese cities went under siege and had to bear the assault of aerial bombardment by the US, 63% of the city was destroyed. Astoundingly, however, the bombardment bypassed the castle, and it was spared from any kind of destruction. It also remained intact and standing tall when the horrendous earthquake of Kobe shook the entire city in 1995. This is why it has become a symbol of divinity in the eyes of the Japanese. Moreover, the castle has been labeled a national treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


With its half a million inhabitants, Himeji is a popular destination, and many visitors make a stopover while journeying along the Sanyo Shinkansen.

Top Attractions to Visit in Himeji

Himeji Castle


A four centuries survivor of natural calamities like war, earthquakes, and fire, Himeji Castle is truly a magnificent sight. It has garnered immense fame and prestige because of its imperial and top-tier architecture that has shown persistence and endurance. Among the 12 illustrious castles in Japan, it is preserved remarkably in its original state.


Himeji castle is comprised of about a staggering 83 buildings, and its grounds are speckled with about 1000 cherry blossom trees. These trees blossom in the sakura season and shower the castle grounds with delicate white petals. The grounds explode with beautiful pink and white swathes, making the onlookers gush with incredulity and amazement. And when these blossoms, the castle grounds are flooded with natives and foreigners alike who celebrate the festival of Hanami, which means flower viewing.

Koko-en Grounds


Koko-en Ground is a huge Japanese garden situated right next to the Himeji Castle. It incorporates nine distinct walled gardens, which are styled in the various manner of the Edo period. These gardens were commemorated in 1992 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Himeji City. They were erected on the former residence of Himeji Castle's lord.

Himeji Central Park


Himeji Central Park is a recreation complex that incorporates an amusement park and a safari park. The safari park features 1000 animals and exotic birds of 120 different species. It integrates a drive-through safari and a walk-in safari. The walk-in-safari allows the visitors to observe the animals from a close-up point.


The amusement park presents an exhilarating assortment of 35 attractions, including theme rides, children's rides, and spine-tingling circuits. Tourists can also enjoy a dip in the pool in summertime and test their skating competence in the skating rink in the winter. Central Park is also dotted with great restaurants, which allow the visitors to savor good food as they spend an exciting day here in the park.

Engyo-Ji Temple


Located on the summit of Mount Shosha at the edge of Himeji City, Engyo-Ji Temple takes pride in its rich history dating back to 1000 years. Surrounded by a densely verdant forest, this spacious Endai Buddhist Temple was constructed on pillars on a steep slope. This wooden temple features splendid scenery and an absence of contemporary architecture, making it one of the famous sets showcased in blockbuster movies.


You can gain access to the mountain by traveling 25 min by bus from Himeji Station. And then, you need to hike to the summit or take a cable car ride to get to the top of the mountain.

Address: 2968 Shosha, Himeji, Hyogo 671-2201, Japan

Himeji City Museum of Art


Housed in an ancient red-brick building, the Himeji City Museum of Art is a building that boasts of granting a magnificent view of the Himeji Castle. Inaugurated in 1983, the museum advocates art. It puts the local culture into the limelight by procuring, conducting research, and then exhibiting the artworks hailing from varied backgrounds.


Exhibitions are showcased in three different galleries. Besides the exhibitions, the museum also introduces lectures, gallery talks, workshops, and other occasions. This is done to champion the local artwork and create public awareness about it.

Address: 68-25 Honmachi, Himeji City, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan

Himeji City Aquarium


The Himeji City Aquarium is one of the most visited markers in Himeji. It comprises three buildings- the new building, the main building, and the biotope on the rooftop, which serves as a natural habitat for the animals. You can observe freshwater fishes, African spurred tortoises, and animals residing in rice fields and reservoirs.


The main building exhibits popular marine species like sea turtles and penguins. Apart from these, you can also spot mammals such as nutrias and sea fish. The touch pool allows you to come up close and in front of sea urchins and starfish. You can also feed the penguins, although this activity is more popular amongst the children.


The Himeji Aquarium features both outdoor and indoor exhibitions. It is a must-see destination, especially if you are traveling with kids.

Address: 440 Nishinobusue, Himeji City, Hyogo 670-0971, Japan

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History, Himeji


This exclusive museum in Himeji showcases a futuristic aesthetic. The state-of-the-art building was made from glass and concrete in a genuinely innovative manner by the famed Japanese architect in 2007. It was built on the ruins of a former castle of Himeji.


Visiting this museum is one of the top attractions in Himeji because it unfolds the Japanese history with a distinctive approach and brushes up your historical knowledge. You will be transported back into time and see through the lens of the past when you observe the relics. The artifacts and relics grant an awareness of the cultural background and history of Himeji. Exhibits in the museum also include castle replicas, large-sized models, and skilfully organized displays. This is one of the best places to visit if you are a history buff or accompanied by children.

Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan

Best Day Trips to Take in Himeji

Himeji Castle Half-Day Walking Tour


This tour itinerary is designed to open the vistas surrounding the castle and to allow you to get a reality check on the castle's immense prestige and fame. The entrance inside the castle will fill your heart with rapturous amazement as you behold its lofty architecture and become acquainted with its rich history and culture. You will also get a bird's eye view of the sprawling city as you peek out of the window.


The itinerary also includes venturing into Koko-en Garden, where you can marvel at the sheer beauty of the Japanese garden. The itinerary consists of making a stop for the tea ceremony and absorbing nature's tranquility, which encompasses the garden. You can also savor the splendid view of the Himeji Castle soaring high in the air as you stand in the viewing observatory.

Setouchi Sea Fishing Experience from Leshima Island With BBQ


Located on the Seto Inland Sea, Leshima Island can be reached in about an hour by taking a ferry from Himeji. Leshima Island has been deemed as a Seto Inland Sea National Park. It is part of an archipelago of 44 islands, and amongst these, only 4 are inhabited. Leshima Island is home to the famous shrine known as Leshima-Jinja, dedicated to seafarers and has a history of 1000 years.


You can go fishing on the boat with the native fisherman of the island. He will teach you the methods of professional fishing. After fishing, your tour guide will familiarize you with the must-see spots on the island, and the trip will conclude with an energizing BBQ party on the top of the mountain. Sitting at the hill's peak and relishing the BBQ lunch while imbuing your heart with the enchanting vista around you will become an unforgettable memory.

Take A Day Trip to Savor A Ninja Experience


This day trip is a peerless and exemplary experience that lets you have an exciting rendezvous with a real life-size Ninja. Japanese Ninjas have been in existence for over 600 years, and their role was to train hard to become prepared for the battles. Common exercises amongst Ninjas are Ninja walk, Ninja runs, Shuriken, and Katana.


You will be taken to the famous Himeji Castle grounds, where you will be provided with a Ninja costume. You will meet your trainer, a famous actor. He got cast in the stellar blockbuster Power Rangers and other historical dramas. He will teach you how to use the Ninja tools such as Shuriken, a star-shaped flying blade, and Katana, the Japanese sword. You will also engage in Ninja exercises which will help you replicate the feeling of being a real Ninja.


At the beginning of the tour, you will be granted a unique Ninja name which will be yours to portray for the entire day. The skit at the end is an interesting epilogue to this grand adventure. It is not rare that other tourists visiting the Himeji Castle saunter over to you to take selfies with you. After the training, you will receive a Shuriken or the Ninja headband as a souvenir.

Full-Day Private Guided Tour to Himeji Castle


This value-packed tour package has been customized to enable you to explore the must-see destinations in Himeji in an efficient way. The first destination will be the feudal-era Himeji Castle, a rare sight to behold and the finest in Japan. It's also known as the White Heron Castle. The itinerary is structured to make the next stop to Koko-en Gardens. These enchanting gardens are an idyllic place to unwind and immerse yourself in the beauty of flora and fauna surrounding you.


After relishing a Japanese-Western buffet for lunch, the tour guide will lead you towards the Engyo-Ji temple on Mount Shosha, which is famed for its history galore spanning over a thousand years. You will then saunter to walk inside the built-in promenade at the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge. The bridge's engineering marvel and state-of-the-art structure are touted to be the longest suspension bridge in the world spanning the Seto Inland Sea. It bridges the gap between Honshu and Awaji Island.

Himeji Custom Half Day


This half-day Himeji tour package is for those who want to schedule their own itinerary and visit the destinations at their own pace. This customizable tour includes iconic destinations: Himeji train station, Himeji Castle, Koko-en, Shoshazan Engyo-Ji, Himeji Central Park, Taiyo Park, Otemae Street, Mt Shosha hiking, and Japan Toy Museum.


You can utilize this custom tour package to visit the impressive Japan Toy Museum, which showcases an extraordinary bevy of 90,000 toys from the traditional and the modern sector. These toys originate both from Japan and other countries.


Japan Toy Museum is accommodated in five different historical storehouses and hosts various toy exhibitions in its other galleries. The Museum is definitely worth the trip if you have kids accompanying you to Himeji.

Best Places to Eat in Himeji


Although the world-renowned Himeji Castle is the reason which allures the visitors to pay a visit to Himeji, the gourmet scene of this historical city of Japan is also a crowd-puller. The bevy of seafood eateries and restaurants in Himeji presents an acceptable dining option. It promises a palatable flavor that is popular among the locals and tourists. Some of the top-tier choices when it comes to restaurants and eateries in Himeji are:


Sumiyaki Anago Yamayoshi


Conger, more commonly known as Anago, is a term given to conger eel in the Japanese language. This dish is a local favorite. It is usually consumed raw as sashimi or grilled in a rice bowl. Sumiyaki Anago Yamayoshi is a restaurant famed for creating this specialty with a resplendent taste that attracts many customers. The restaurant has successfully stamped a reputation for itself, and it has become synonymous with its core dish, Anago mesh. This is a soft-boiled conger eel placed on rice. This dish is prepared to maintain the authentic taste of Japanese conger.

Himeji Sushi-Ichi


If you want to relish fresh seafood that has been caught in the Seto Inland Sea, then saunter over to Himeji Sushi-Ichi. The restaurants' recipes expand the fish that has been seen on the same day, so the quality of the food is premium, and the taste is exceptional. Amble over to this restaurant if you are craving some fresh fish. And if you want to bite into the Himeji favorite dishes, you must try the steamed eel sushi. This dish is one of the most popular dishes in Himeji because cooking the eel enriches the eel's flavor and maximizes its balance with the rice.

Mutsuki


Suppose you want to savor the original form of kaiseki cuisine, a traditional Japanese feast. In that case, Mutsuki hits all the right chords. Usually, the Kaiseki restaurants have a formal ambiance and an elite mood. Still, Mutsuki welcomes the visitors with its congenial setting and warm atmosphere.


The quiet Japanese interior gives a friendly and gracious aura, and the soft tone of the restaurant makes it a perfect place to enjoy a date night with your special one. With its rich assemblage of colors and tastes, the classic menu will leave a lasting impression on your mind and tastebuds. The prices are economical, too, which makes it a popular spot for fine dining.

Omotenashi Kiko


Suppose you want to relish a classic and rare feast at a distinguished restaurant in Himeji. In that case, Omotenashi Kiko is the ideal place to visit. Featuring an elegant Japanese mood and ambiance, this top-tier restaurant sets the benchmark for other restaurants in terms of food and setting. The ingredients for each recipe are selected by the chef himself. It ensures the impeccable and ultra-fine taste of the cuisine.

The wine cellar is decked with wine bottles that sync with the scrumptious cuisine. The restaurant is well celebrated for its exceptionally tender and richly flavored Abalone Tempura. Besides this, the Puffer Fish dish and the Shark Fin Ankake are A-Listers on the restaurant's menu. Extremely pricey yet a delicacy that is not too common anywhere else in the world besides Japan and China, shark fin dish is a luxury dish that tastes heavenly.

Chanko Kuramae


If you want to sample a great hot pot, then saunter over to Chanko Kuramae, which serves traditional hot pot prepared from seasonal veggies. The mouthwatering taste of the hot pot and other dishes, particularly their sashimi prepared from fresh fish, has garnered an enormous fan base over Himeji. The welcoming ambiance and the warm and cordial interior of the restaurant make it a great place to savor a wonderful meal with family and friends.

Totoro


Situated beneath the underpass of the Himeji train station, Totoro is a must-visit if you are a tuna fanatic. The restaurant is acclaimed for preparing the most finger-licking fatty tuna in Himeji. The sushi meals concocted by the restaurant's chefs are trendy amongst locals and tourists. The economical rates and the scrumptious and mouthwatering taste of the sushi make it a frequented stopover for all. The soft, tender, and highly palatable conger eel is also a must-try cuisine. It's perfect whether you are visiting alone or with your family.

Dico


Suppose you want to enjoy Italian gourmet, tailor-made to appeal to your tastebuds. In that case, Dico is a must-stopover restaurant. With its elite setting and retro vibes, this warm and welcoming restaurant is famous for serving scrumptious seasonal cuisine. The restaurant cultivates its own vegetables. They are then employed as ingredients in recipes to grant a freshness and novelty to the zest of the cooking. The Western food, the mouthwatering risotto, and other specialty cuisines have awarded the restaurant a privileged reputation.

Kunya


This stylish and classy restaurant is proficient in concocting homemade smoked cuisine. The appetizing taste and the palatable flavor of the dishes make it a favorite amongst locals. It is a popular place preferred for celebrating grand events and special events. The social environment and the cheerful employees welcome the visitors with generous grace. Friends and youngsters hang out to enjoy a meal or to unwind in a leisurely manner.


This local restaurant intends to employ local ingredients in its recipes, which include vegetables cultivated in Himeji and seafood extracted from the Setouchi Sea.

Rosso Piccolino


Rosso Piccolino is one of the top-tier restaurants that enjoy a high popularity level amongst tourists and locals alike. The authentic Italian-based western gourmet, which is concocted using seasonal ingredients, has a taste par excellence. The menu includes dishes like pasta, omelet over rice, and comfits. For those who love western cuisine, this restaurant is a haven of attraction for them. The Plump shrimp and avocado cream pasta sauce is one of the winning dishes well celebrated amongst families and friends.
The chef's welcoming ambiance and friendliness grant the restaurant a delightful and cordial aura that makes the visitors feel at home.

Conclusion


A quiet city that boasts of being the second-largest city of the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan, Himeji is home to great markers. The city of Himeji has garnered worldwide acclaim due to being home to one of the most spectacular castles, a national treasure, and a world heritage site. Dotted with pleasing temples, shrines, great shopping malls, and presenting an excellent gourmet prospect, Himeji is one of the charming cities in Japan that delivers a great travel experience.

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