Imagine yourself taking a trip back to the past when castles and dragons exist with princess needing to be rescued by a brave prince. Of course this is not the tale of Shrek. Kidding aside, castles do exist and seeing one up close is a great experience indeed. This is my experience seeing Himeji Castle up close during our March 2020 trip.
Himeji castle or the “white egret castle” is a 17th century castle (or sometimes 12th) with a height of 46.4 meters located in Hyogo prefecture. It is famous for its white color like an egret taking flight standing atop a hill and visible from a distance.
History of Himeji Castle
In 1333 Akamatsu Norimura started to build Himeji castle as a fort following the order of the Imperial Prince Morinaga to subdue the Hojo Family. Construction was continued by his son Sadanori where the first mansion was built on Mt Himeyama.
200 years later in 1577, Toyotomi Hideyoshi received the control from Oda Nobunaga where he further developed the fortification. Finally, in 1601, the castle to which we see it now was built by Ikeda Terumasa as a gift for his support of Ieyasu Tokogawa following the battle of Sekigahara (Columbia).
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Himeji Castle was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 describing it as:
Himeji-jo is the finest surviving example of early 17th-century Japanese castle architecture, comprising 83 buildings with highly developed systems of defence and ingenious protection devices dating from the beginning of the Shogun period. It is a masterpiece of construction in wood, combining function with aesthetic appeal, both in its elegant appearance unified by the white plastered earthen walls and in the subtlety of the relationships between the building masses and the multiple roof layers.unesco
How big is Himeji Castle?
From east to west, the castle spans a length of 950-1,600 meters. From north to south a length of 900 to 1700 meters. The circumference is 4,200 meters(2.53 miles) and an area of 230 hectares
Where is Himeji Castle?
Himeji Castle is located in Hyogo Prefecture, 75 km west of Osaka or 48 km from Kobe and can be a stop over if you are going to Hiroshima. It can be accessed via the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen line.
How to go to Himeji from Osaka?
Using the Japan Rail Pass, you can take the Sakura, Hikari and Kodama trains except Nozomi on the Tokaido – Sanyo Shinkansen line to go to Himeji from Osaka. For regular fare, the Jr Kansai pass and other JR operated regional passes, the Nozomi is included on the trains to use going to Himeji.
You can also take JRrapid trains (shin-kaisoku) to go to Himeji. The trip takes one hour and cost 1520 yen for the one way trip. If you are using Kansai thru Pass you can take the limited express trains from Hanshin Umeda Station to Himeji Station
Upon arrival on the station, you can walk for 20 mins to the castle or ride the local bus. If you are going to walk, you will see murals near the castle where you can see the different views of the castle.
Preparing for your Trip?
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