"The 'White Egret" of Himeji." Japan Things to Do Tip by worldkiwi
Japan Things to Do: 736 reviews and 1,308 photos
Himeji is a city west of Osaka and easily reached from there on the express trains from Osaka station (return fare JPY2900). The city is well known for its authentic castle which, according to the guide brochure , in its current form, dates back to 1609, although there has been a fort there since 1333. The castle's main keep is an impressive sight as one walks up Otemai-dori from the train station (only a 15 minute walk). It is known as the 'white egret' and even on a grey, drizzly day I could see why.
Entrance is JPY600. The day we went, it was a Sunday and the place was packed out with thousands of Japanese visitors. We started by walking through the Hyakken-rouka in the Nishinomaru Bailey. This long timbered corridor has many small rooms off it, which give good views over the cherry trees to the donjon (central keep). At the end of the corridor is a tatami matted room, which was apperently where a princess lived. After reading some fiction books based on Japanese mediaeval times, I wonder if the princess was a hostage of the castle's lord!
You have to take your shoes off to walk through the Hyakken-rouka. You wear 'slippers' that are probably too small for the average westerner's feet and have a tricky knack of slipping off if you walk at more than shuffle speed! You can carry your shoes in a plastic bag through the building.
The same rule applies to the donjon (main tower), which has displays on all floors of bits and pieces recovered from the site. On the top floor there is a small shrine.
Knowing that this is one of the few authentic castles still standing in Japan makes it a genuinely interesting and worthwhile trip.
Himeji town is a good place for souvenir shopping. East of Otemai-dori is a covered street arcade. It runs the entire length of the walk from the rail station to the castle, so is an interesting route that can make your walk to the castle three times longer than it would be otherwise.
Himeji Castle is a World Heritage Site.
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