The best-preserved castle in japan, Himeji Castle, also known as the White Heron Castle, holds a significant place in Japanese history and culture. It is not only a Japanese National Treasure but also a designated World Heritage site. As one of Japan’s 12 remaining original castles, Himeji Castle attracts visitors from all over the world who are interested in exploring the rich history and architectural marvels of Japan.
One of the highlights of Himeji Castle is the breathtaking view of over 1,000 cherry trees that bloom each spring in the castle’s grounds. The sight of these cherry blossoms in full bloom is truly a sight to behold and adds to the castle’s charm and beauty. Visitors can stroll through the castle’s grounds and enjoy the vibrant colors and delicate petals of the cherry blossoms, creating a picturesque atmosphere.
Another notable feature of Himeji Castle is its seven-story castle keep, which is over 400 years old. This majestic structure stands tall and proud, a testament to the architectural prowess of the time. Visitors can explore the castle keep and marvel at its intricate design and historical significance. Each floor of the keep offers a unique perspective on the castle’s history, with informative signs explaining the architectural and defensive features of the castle.
To reach Himeji Castle, visitors can take a 15-to-20-minute walk or a five-minute bus ride from Himeji Station. The castle is conveniently located one kilometer down Otemae-dori street from the north exit of the station. As you approach the castle, you will be greeted by the impressive Otemon Gate, which is the main entrance to Himeji Castle. This gate allows access to the admission-free part of the castle, known as San-no-maru, where visitors can enjoy the wide lawn and cherry trees during the spring season.
To enter the main keep of the castle, visitors need to pass through the Hishi Gate and purchase a ticket from the ticket booth near the gate. The ticket costs 1,000 yen and grants access to the narrow lanes of the inner castle, leading up to the six-story main keep. As you ascend the floors of the keep, you will notice that they gradually become smaller and less furnished. However, the top floor of the castle offers a small shrine and breathtaking viewpoints where visitors can admire the panoramic view of Himeji Castle and the surrounding city.
While the castle’s main keep is a must-visit, the paid area of the castle also includes the west bailey, known as Nishi-no-maru, which offers stunning views of the main keep. This area provides visitors with an opportunity to explore more of the castle’s grounds and appreciate its architectural grandeur from different angles.
Aside from its historical and architectural significance, Himeji Castle is also known for its beautiful gardens. The Edo period-style Kokoen Garden is located adjacent to the castle and showcases the changing seasons of Japan. This garden consists of nine separate walled gardens, each designed in a different style, offering visitors a serene and tranquil environment to relax and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds them.
The cherry blossoms in Himeji Castle’s grounds are undoubtedly one of the highlights for visitors. The castle boasts over 1,000 cherry trees, which burst into a riot of colors during the sakura season. However, it is important to note that the castle can get extremely crowded during this time, as hundreds of locals and tourists gather to witness the beauty of the blossoms. If you prefer a more peaceful experience, it may be best to avoid visiting during peak blossom season. Additionally, access to the main keep of the castle may be limited during this period, so it is advisable to plan your visit accordingly.
For those interested in exploring the castle’s surroundings, Himeji Castle offers boat rides along its original moat, known as goku-bori or the inner moat. These boat rides are available on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays, allowing visitors to experience the castle from a unique perspective. To access the moat, visitors must first pass through Hishi gate, where they can purchase tickets for the boat rides.
Himeji Castle has a rich history that spans over 600 years. It was strategically built as a defense point to the west of Kyoto, and the first set of fortifications was constructed in the 1400s. The present castle complex, consisting of over 80 buildings connected by labyrinth-like winding paths, was completed in 1609 under the supervision of daimyo Lord Ikeda Terumasa. The castle’s preservation and restoration efforts are commendable, and after a five-year project, Himeji Castle was fully reopened to the public on March 27, 2015.
In conclusion, Himeji Castle is a remarkable testament to Japan’s rich history and architectural brilliance. Its well-preserved structures, stunning cherry blossoms, and serene gardens make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Japanese culture. Whether you are exploring the castle’s impressive keep, strolling through its beautiful gardens, or taking a boat ride along the original moat, Himeji Castle offers a truly immersive and unforgettable experience. Plan your visit to this historical treasure and discover the wonders of Himeji Castle for yourself.
Address And Maps Location:
68 Hon-machi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo-ken