Sakura at picture perfect Himeji-jo

{ Japan April 2010 - Day 8 - Himeji }

The plan was to spend half a day in Himeji, but due to some delay in leaving Osaka, we only managed to reach Himeji late afternoon. The main, if not only, reason tourists flock to Himeji is to visit the Himeji-jo - the Himeji Castle. Once we reached Himeji, we walked along the (presumably) main road that leads right up to the castle. We were able to catch glimpses of the castle along the way. Once we got there, two things caught my eyes: (1) the number of people all around the area (2) the sign board that seems to be saying that it will be closing at 4pm which did not give us much time.

Undeterred, we walked all the way in to the ticketing counter and ask the officer if we can still visit the castle. After some slow Japanese (which doesn't help with our comprehension) and hand signals, we figured out that the last entry is at 4pm but the castle is open till 5. So, we bought our tickets and walked right up to the main castle. The main castle was a five level wooden structure, and we climbed up the steep stairway up the the highest level. There were some displays of guns and swords along the way, but apart from that, the highlight of the climb would be the view from the top floor. Thereafter, we explored the castle grounds and other buildings before the castle closed for the day.

Himeji-jo was considered as one of the most magnificent and best preserved castle in Japan, and it was easy to see why. We were lucky to be there when the many sakura trees around the compound was blooming in all its glory. If you happened to be in Japan during the sakura season, do go to Himeji for all the picture-perfect views!

::: Footnotes :::

{ How to get to Himeji 姫路 } From Osaka, we took the Shinkansen to Himeji which took around 30 minutes using our 7 day Japan Rail Pass. The Japan Rail Pass is only valid for the hikari and kodama trains, but not on the faster nozomi trains. It can easily be done as a day trip from nearby cities like Osaka and Kyoto.

{ Himeji-jō 姫路城 } Himeji Castle is the reason for making a trip to Himeji. An entry fee of 600 yen needs to be paid and it is opened from 9am to 5pm from September to May, and to 6pm from June to August. The castle is amazing with one main central tower which can be seen from the main road off the train station. It is 15 to 20 minutes walk from the train station.

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