While spending a weekend in Kyoto my friend Michael and I decided to visit Himeji Castle one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan. Himeji is just under an hours travel on the train from Kyoto and quite easy to reach. Himeji castle is the biggest and oldest castle in Japan and dates back to 1333. It is also widely considered to be Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle. So it was definitely on my list of things I have to see while living in Japan!
Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II. It is the most visited castle in Japan, receiving over 820,000 visitors annually so we made sure to visit it during the week when it’s bound to be less crowded.
As soon as we got off the train we could see the castle in the distance. The main road of the town ends at the gates of the castle. It was a stunning castle built in real Japanese style and worth all the stairs I had to climb to get to the entrance. I did need to sit down and catch my breath though before exploring the castle grounds. It was a lovely sunny day and quite hot, we weren’t prepared for it to be this hot so suffered a bit in the heat
Before entering the castle we had to take off our shoes, at least we were given plastic bags to carry them in. Unfortunately the inside of the castle was very bare and not at all what I expected. I thought the rooms would be furnished or at least have some of the original furnishing on display.
I got some fabulous views over the city of Himeji out of the castle windows and did enjoyed walking through the castle.
It turned out that the most interesting part about the castle was the building and not the contents. We spent a lot of time walking through the grounds and gardens of the castle that are situated inside the castle moat.
I had a great day exploring Himeji but the heat was a bit unbearable that day so headed back to Kyoto in search of some shade.