Discover Himeji Castle: A Day Trip from Osaka

Himeji is one of Japan’s original standing medieval castles. We’ve always been intrigued by Japanese Castles and they don’t disappoint, however most of them have been destroyed over the years and rebuilt as museums.

Himeji Castle is one of the only castles in Japan still standing high and proud as one of Japan’s icons and a reminder of a bygone era. Below we uncover the top places to visit in Himeji and best tips on visiting the castle.

Overview

Himeji is renowned for its majestic Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Japan’s most iconic landmarks. Dating back to the 17th century, this imposing fortress stands as a testament to Japan’s feudal past and architectural prowess.

The city boasts a rich tapestry of traditions, from its vibrant festivals to its thriving arts scene. Visitors can immerse themselves in the elegance of traditional tea ceremonies, explore ancient shrines and temples, or marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of local artisans.

Moreover, Himeji offers a tantalizing taste of Japan’s natural beauty. Nestled amidst lush greenery and surrounded by picturesque mountains, the city exudes a serene charm that is sure to captivate nature enthusiasts and urban explorers alike.

Travel to and Around Himeji

When it comes to getting to Himeji and navigating the city, there are plenty of convenient options to suit every traveller’s preferences.

Travel to Himeji by Train

If you’re arriving from other parts of Japan, the most common way to reach Himeji is by train. Himeji Station is a major transportation hub served by the Shinkansen (bullet train) as well as local and regional train lines.

The Shinkansen makes Himeji easily accessible from cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, with frequent and efficient services. Be sure to check the train schedules in advance to plan your journey accordingly.

We travelled to Himeji as part of our 2 week Japan itinerary in November 2023. We found that Osaka is a good travel base for some of these destinations and on this occasion we travelled from there only for the day.

Travel to Himeji by Bus

For those who prefer a more scenic route, consider taking a bus to Himeji. Several long-distance bus companies operate routes to and from Himeji, providing a cost-effective and comfortable travel option.

Buses are a great choice for budget-conscious travellers or those seeking a leisurely journey through Japan’s picturesque countryside.

Travel to Himeji in an Organised trip

If you prefer an organised trip to Himeji, here are some options for you:

Travel Around Himeji

Once you’ve arrived in Himeji, getting around the city is a breeze. Himeji boasts an excellent public transportation system, including buses and trains, that make it easy to explore all the city has to offer. You can purchase a one-day pass for unlimited rides on the local bus network, allowing you to hop on and off at your leisure.

Alternatively, for a more immersive experience, consider renting a bicycle to navigate Himeji like a local. The city is bike-friendly, with well-maintained cycling paths and rental shops conveniently located near major attractions.

Cycling around Himeji not only allows you to cover more ground but also provides a unique perspective on the city’s charm and beauty.

On a personal note the total walking distance from the JR station to the castle is under 20 minutes of walking. And so we feel that by using the traveller’s budget saving technique of walking was the best way to explore this city.

Things to do in Himeji

When it comes to attractions in Himeji, you’re spoilt for choice with a diverse array of activities that cater to every interest and preference.

Of course, the star attraction is Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Japan’s most iconic castle. Explore its labyrinthine corridors, climb to the top for panoramic views, and immerse yourself in centuries of history and culture.

For a tranquil escape, head to Koko-en Garden, a meticulously landscaped oasis featuring nine distinct gardens that showcase the beauty of Japanese horticulture. Take a leisurely stroll along winding paths, admire the seasonal blooms, and find a moment of serenity amidst the bustling city.

Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, art aficionado, or foodie, Himeji offers a wealth of experiences that promise to leave a lasting impression and create memories to cherish for a lifetime.

1. Visit Himeji Castle

When you visit Himeji Castle, you step into a realm of timeless beauty and rich history. This towering fortress, often referred to as the “White Heron” due to its pristine white walls and graceful silhouette, stands as a symbol of Japan’s feudal past and architectural prowess.

As you approach the castle grounds, you’re greeted by its majestic presence, surrounded by a moat and fortified walls that hint at its strategic importance centuries ago. Crossing the iconic Otemon Gate, you’re transported back in time to an era of samurai warriors and feudal lords.

Inside Himeji castle complex, you’ll discover a world of wonders waiting to be explored. Ascend the steep stone steps and navigate the labyrinthine corridors that wind their way through the castle’s interior.

Along the way, encounter intricately decorated chambers, hidden passageways, and defensive features designed to repel would-be invaders.

Climbing to the upper levels, you’re rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Himeji city and the surrounding landscape. From this vantage point, you gain a newfound appreciation for the castle’s strategic location and formidable architecture.

But Himeji Castle isn’t just a marvel of engineering; it’s also a treasure trove of history and culture. Explore the castle’s various exhibits and displays, which offer insights into its storied past and the lives of those who once inhabited its walls.

From ancient artefacts to interactive multimedia presentations, there’s something to captivate visitors of all ages.

As you wander through the castle grounds, take a moment to soak in the tranquil beauty of its surrounding gardens. From meticulously landscaped ponds to vibrant seasonal blooms, the gardens provide a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or simply seeking a memorable cultural experience, a visit to Himeji Castle is sure to leave a lasting impression.

It’s a journey back in time to a bygone era, where legends were born and empires rose and fell – an experience not to be missed on any trip to Japan. We would suggest you dedicate at least 2 hours so you can truly immerse yourself.

Like what you are reading? Why not join us for other journeys by subscribing to our newsletter:

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

2. Explore Koko-en Gardens

Exploring Koko-en Gardens is like stepping into a living masterpiece of Japanese horticulture and landscape design.

As you enter the gardens, you’re greeted by the soothing sound of flowing water and the delicate fragrance of seasonal blooms. The pathways wind gracefully through lush greenery, leading you on a journey of discovery and tranquility.

One of the highlights of Koko-en Gardens is the Edo Period Garden, which transports you back in time to Japan’s feudal era. Here, traditional teahouses and wooden bridges evoke a sense of nostalgia, while carefully pruned bonsai trees and manicured moss gardens reflect the timeless elegance of Japanese aesthetics.

As you wander through Koko-en Gardens, keep an eye out for hidden gems tucked away amidst the foliage. From stone lanterns and pagodas to whimsical sculptures and ornate bridges, every corner reveals a new delight waiting to be discovered.

3. Check out Local Produce

Otemae Street leading to Himeji Castle offers visitors a good opportunity to search for various Japanese produce. Everything from food to clothing or even Japanese socks!

The many shops and stall can be found in the side streets leading to covered shopping areas full of local merchants waiting for visitors. Definitely a good place to get a fridge magnet, unlike us. Also explore Happy Street and Gourmet Street.

Final Thoughts

As our journey through Himeji draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the memories we’ve made and the experiences we’ve shared in this enchanting city.

Himeji is more than just a destination; it’s a tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty woven together to create an unforgettable tapestry of experiences.

From the majestic splendor of Himeji Castle to the tranquil serenity of Koko-en Gardens, every corner of this city holds a treasure waiting to be discovered.

As we bid farewell to this captivating city, I’m filled with a sense of gratitude for the memories we’ve created along the way. Himeji may be a mere dot on the map, but in our hearts, it will always hold a special place.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:


  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as Booking.com or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider Rentalcars.com for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

As an Amazon Associate and member of various other affiliate programmes, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.


Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address below. You’ll be the first to hear about new destinations and articles we publish!

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

Are you interested in travelling? Check out our Facebook page and other social media for regular tips and recommendations on how to travel and where to go!

The Great Pyramid of Giza and camel ride

Join us for top travel guides, exclusive tips and more!

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top