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Himeji Castle (PH, Himejijō), also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance, is widely considered as Japan's most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty and its well preserved, complex castle grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country's twelve original castles. The castle recently underwent extensive renovation over several years and was fully re-opened to the public in 2015.

Himeji Castle lies at a strategic point along the western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto. The first fortifications built on the site were completed in the 1400s, and were gradually enlarged over the centuries by the various clans who ruled over the region. The castle complex as it survives today is over 400 years old and was completed in 1609. It is made up of over eighty buildings spread across multiple baileys, which are connected by a series of gates and winding paths.

Most visitors to Himeji Castle enter the castle via the Otemon Gate into the admission-free third bailey (Sannomaru). The Sannomaru contains of a large, cherry tree lined lawn, and is a popular spot for taking photos of the castle and for viewing cherry blossoms. A ticket booth can be found at the far end of the bailey, where the Hishi Gate marks the entrance to the paid area.

The labyrinth-like approach from the Hishi Gate to the main keep leads along walled paths and through multiple gates and baileys with the purpose to slow down and expose attacking forces. At the heart of the complex stands the main keep, a six story wooden structure. It is one of only a handful castle keeps in Japan that feature wing buildings, adding complexity to its appearance.

Visitors enter the main keep through an entrance in the lower floor of the building and climb upwards via a series of steep, narrow staircases. Each level gets progressively smaller as you ascend. The floors are generally unfurnished and display just a few multilingual signs explaining architectural features such as portholes, rock chutes and concealed spaces as well as renovation efforts made over the years to preserve the structure.

The topmost floor houses a small shrine and lets visitors peer out in all directions, down over the castle roofs, at the maze-like defenses below and out across the city of Himeji. You can also admire an up close view of the fish-shaped roof ornaments that are believed to protect from fire.

After exiting the keep, visitors can make their way back to the Hishi Gate. Before leaving the paid grounds, they have the option to explore one additional bailey, the west bailey (Nishinomaru) which served as the residence of a princess and provides views of the main keep from a different perspective. A long building with an enclosed corridor and multiple unfurnished rooms survives along the bailey's walls and can be entered by visitors.

Himeji Castle is also a highly popular cherry blossom spot during the short and crowded blooming season which usually falls in early April. On busy days, such as during the cherry blossom season, Golden Week and the summer holidays, visitors may encounter considerable waiting times for entering the interior of the main keep. The number of visitors allowed to enter the main keep may be limited by the use of numbered tickets.

Getting there and around

Himeji Castle stands about one kilometer down the broad Otemae-dori Street from Himeji Station. The castle can be reached from the station's north exit in a 15-20 minute walk or five minute ride by bus (100 yen one way) or taxi (about 750 yen one way).

How to get to and around Himeji

Hours and Fees

Hours

9:00 to 17:00 (until 18:00 from late April through August)
Admission ends one hour before closing

Closed

December 29 and 30

Admission

1000 yen (castle only)
1050 yen (castle and nearby Kokoen Garden)

Hotels around Himeji

Top rated in Himeji
Budget:
    • Shironoshita Guesthouse
      Budget-friendly
      Shironoshita Guesthouse offers accommodation in Himeji. Each room is equipped with a shared bathroom. Shironoshita Guesthouse features free WiFi throughout the property. A flat-screen TV is offered. You will find a shared lounge at the property. Himeji Castle is 900 metres from Shironoshita Guesthouse, while Mt. Shosha Ropeway is 6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 66 km from Shironoshita Guesthouse.
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    • Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji
      Luxury
      Located in Himeji, 2 km from Himeji Castle, Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji provides accommodation with a restaurant, private parking and a fitness centre. Among the facilities at this property are a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Local points of interest like Shikama-k? and Shosha-zan Engyo-ji Temple are reachable within 7 km and 9 km, respectively. All units are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the hotel also provide guests with a city view. All guest rooms include a wardrobe. A continental breakfast is available daily at Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji. Himeji City Aquarium is 2.9 km from the accommodation, while Zenkyo-ji Temple is 7 km away. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 53 km from Daiwa Roynet Hotel Himeji.
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    • Hotel Monterey Himeji
      Luxury
      Featuring free WiFi, Hotel Monterey Himeji offers accommodation in Himeji. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant. Each room at this hotel is air conditioned and has a flat-screen TV. You will find a kettle in the room. The rooms come with a private bathroom fitted with a bath. Extras include slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property. Himeji Castle is 1.2 km from Hotel Monterey Himeji, while Shikama-k? is 6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kansai International Airport, 67 km from the property.
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    • OYO CAPSULE Himejiekimae
      Budget-friendly
      Set within 1.9 km of Himeji Castle and 3.3 km of Himeji City Aquarium, OYO CAPSULE Himejiekimae features rooms in Himeji. The property is around 6 km from Shikama-k?, 7 km from Zenkyo-ji Temple and 10 km from Shosha-zan Engyo-ji Temple. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk and free WiFi is available. The units in the capsule hotel are equipped with a TV. At OYO CAPSULE Himejiekimae, all rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom with free toiletries. Taiyo Park is 11 km from the accommodation, while Himeji Central Park is 13 km away. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 53 km from OYO CAPSULE Himejiekimae.
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    • Richmond Hotel Himeji
      Mid-range
      Richmond Hotel Himeji is situated in Himeji, within 2.7 km of Himeji Castle and 2 km of Himeji City Aquarium. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property. Attractions in the area include Shosha-zan Engyo-ji Temple, 10 km away, or Taiyo Park, set 12 km from the property. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the hotel also feature a city view. The units have a wardrobe. A buffet breakfast is available each morning at Richmond Hotel Himeji. Shikama-k? is 5 km from the accommodation, while Zenkyo-ji Temple is 8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 53 km from Richmond Hotel Himeji.
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    • Dormy Inn Himeji Natural Hot Spring
      Mid-range
      Only a 3-minute walk from JR Himeji Station, Dormy Inn Himeji Natural Hot Spring offers modern rooms with free WiFi is provided throughout the property. Guests can relax in the public hot-spring baths or request massages for an extra cost. The air-conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen satellite TV, air humidifier, fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags. The en suite bathrooms come with a shower, toilet, hairdryer and free toiletries. There is a sauna at this hotel where guests can relax from their travels. A coin-launderette is available at the hotel. Copy services and luggage storage are available at the front desk. Taxi arrangements can also be made at the reception. A semi-buffet breakfast is served at the on-site restaurant. Local menu items are also available upon request. Dormy Inn Himeji Natural Hot Spring is a 20-minute walk from the world heritage site of Himeji Castle. Both Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple and Himeji Central Park are a 30-minute drive away from Dormy Inn Himeji Natural Hot Spring. Guests can also take JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line to Kobe Station in 40 minutes or Super Hakuto 13 Limited ExpressTottori for 60 minutes to reach Osaka Station.
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    • Himeji 588 Guest House
      Budget-friendly
      Located on a lively traditional shopping arcade, Himeji 588 Guest House features affordable Japanese-style accommodations. Free WiFi is available and guests can watch DVDs on the flat-screen TV in the shared lounge. JR Himeji Train Station is a 10-minute walk away. Guest House Himeji 588 is a 5-minute walk from Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden. Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple is a 15-minute drive away. Guests can choose to stay in dormitory-style rooms or private rooms. Private rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) flooring and Japanese futon bedding. Dormitory rooms are fitted with bunk beds. Bathrooms and toilets are shared for all rooms. Toiletries are offered for free and towels are available at an extra charge. Free coffee and tea are offered at 588 Himeji's shared lounge. A coin-launderette and luggage storage are available.
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    • Hotel Livemax Premium Himejieki-Minami
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Himeji, 2.4 km from Himeji Castle, Hotel Livemax Premium Himejieki-Minami offers rooms with air conditioning. The property is around 2.3 km from Himeji City Aquarium, 2.7 km from Himeji Tegarayama Amusement Park and 6 km from Shikama-k?. Local points of interest like Taiyo Park and Himeji Central Park are reachable within 11 km and 12 km, respectively. At the hotel, all rooms include a wardrobe, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom. All guest rooms will provide guests with a microwave. Zenkyo-ji Temple is 7 km from Hotel Livemax Premium Himejieki-Min, while Shosha-zan Engyo-ji Temple is 10 km from the property. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 53 km from the accommodation.
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    • Comfort Hotel Himeji
      Mid-range
      An 8-minute walk from JR Himeji Train Station, Comfort Hotel Himeji features free WiFi and guests can enjoy complimentary coffee and breakfast. Massages can be requested for additional charge. Air-conditioned rooms are equipped with an LCD TV, a small fridge and an attached bathroom with toiletries. The Himeji Comfort Hotel provides a launderette, while the reception is staffed around the clock. Parking is available at a charge. A daily buffet with warm and cold dishes is available free of charge at the lounge space, between 06:30 and 09:30. Guests can enjoy a variety of fresh breads and other Western and Japanese breakfast foods. Hotel Comfort Himeji is a 15-minute walk from both Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden.
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    • ONE HOSTEL Himeji
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Himeji, ONE HOSTEL Himeji has a shared lounge. The property is around an 11-minute walk from Himeji Castle, 6 km from Mount Shosha Ropeway and 6 km from Shikama-k?. Free WiFi is provided. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower. Himeji Central Park is 8 km from the guest house. The nearest airport is Kobe Airport, 53 km from ONE HOSTEL Himeji.
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