Take a look at the fabulous Himeji Castle or the White Heron Castle, as we walk its grounds.


Feudal Japan evokes images of majestic and imposing castles and sword wielding samurai warriors. Himeji is home to one the of the finest examples of traditional Japanese castle architecture, the quite imaginatively named “White Heron” castle.

Himeji Castle dates back to 1333 and the subsequent centuries have seen extensive remodeling of the castle by its occupants over the years. Most famously, it remained intact in spite of extensive bombing of Himeji during World War II. Being an UNESCO world heritage site, the castle is visited by a huge number of tourists annually. It recently underwent a massive restoration exercise that ended in March 2015

I journeyed to Himeji from Kyoto to catch a quick glimpse of this majestic Castle. The day was quite overcast with intermittent showers, which while not ideal for photography made for great dramatic atmosphere. Here is a kind of “guided” tour of the famed Himeji Castle


Autumn is very much visible near the castle walls in Himeji
Autumn is very much visible near the castle walls in Himeji
Tourists throng to the entrance of Himeji
Tourists throng to the entrance of Himeji
A small window in a defensive castle wall in Himeji
A small window in a defensive castle wall in Himeji
The city can be see at a distance from the castle. The castle must have held a commanding view of the countryside in ancient times
The city can be see at a distance from the castle. The castle must have held a commanding view of the countryside in ancient times
Autumn is just about turning the leaves red over in the castle grounds
Autumn is just about turning the leaves red over in the castle grounds
This 1/20 scale model was prepared as part of the dismantling and repair of the Main keep during the Showa Era Restoration.
This 1/20 scale model was prepared as part of the dismantling and repair of the Main keep during the Showa Era Restoration.
The roof tiles glisten in gold and green in the morning sun
The roof tiles glisten in gold and green in the morning sun
This room served as an armory in the castle
This room served as an armory in the castle
Platforms erected by the sides of the walls helped defenders fight from the windows
Platforms erected by the sides of the walls helped defenders fight from the windows
The fish motif serves like a gargoyle on this castle roof
The fish motif serves like a gargoyle on this castle roof
The modern city of Himeji can be seen from the castle
The modern city of Himeji can be seen from the castle
This niche served as an hiding spot for warriors for sneak ambushes on invaders
This niche served as an hiding spot for warriors for sneak ambushes on invaders
Stone drops are all around the castle, showing the unique defensive capabilities of the castle
Stone drops are all around the castle, showing the unique defensive capabilities of the castle
Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex located in Himeji, in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture and is also known by its more poetic name - The Castle of the White Heron
Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex located in Himeji, in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture and is also known by its more poetic name – The Castle of the White Heron
Okiku Ido is said to be the well that features in the ghost story known as Banshui Sarayashiki. It tells the tale of a maiden, Okiku, who is framed for the loss of one of the ten ornamental plates of her family. Danshiro, a samurai, hopes that by forgiving her for the imaginary crime, she will become his lover. When she refuses, he has her thrown to her death. It is said that her spirit can be heard counting the plates over and over again in the well.
Okiku Ido is said to be the well that features in the ghost story known as Banshui Sarayashiki. It tells the tale of a maiden, Okiku, who is framed for the loss of one of the ten ornamental plates of her family. Danshiro, a samurai, hopes that by forgiving her for the imaginary crime, she will become his lover. When she refuses, he has her thrown to her death. It is said that her spirit can be heard counting the plates over and over again in the well.
An ornamental waterfall in the nearby Himeji Kokoen
An ornamental “waterfall” in the nearby Himeji Kokoen
Fish swim in a pond at the Himeji Kokoen
Fish swim in a pond at the Himeji Kokoen

More Information

How to get There

Himeji is connected to most major cities via the rail network. You can take a shinkansen from Kyoto to get to Himeji. The train takes about an hour to reach Himeji. From the train station the castle is a 15-20 min walk.

Where to Stay

Given its relatively short distance from Kyoto, you can quite easily do Himeji as day trip or combine it with a longer two day excursion to Hiroshima and back. In case you want to stay at Himeji, budget stay options are available from about ¥ 7000.

What to do

When in Himeji, explore the castle (entry about ¥1000, admission from 9:00 to 17:00) that’s a short walk from the station. Also consider looking at the wonderful Kokoen garden that is right next to Himeji (buy a combination visit ticket costing ¥1040). Visit Mount Shosha (entry about ¥500), which features the temple complex where the Last Samurai was shot.

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