Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan

Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan

Himeji is a pretty coastal city in the Kansai region of Japan, in the Hyogo Prefecture. The city is home to one of Japan’s historic castles, Himeji Castle that draws visitors from all over the world to its unique design that is often compared to ‘wings’.

Himeji Castle during hanami

Himeji is easily accessible from Kyoto or Osaka (see below) and makes a brilliant day trip. My ultimate 1-day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan covers castles, gardens and temples — just three places which should be in any visit list to this region.

Timeless Travel Steps is supported by my readers. This article and related articles are sprinkled with affiliate links. This means that I may earn a commission from qualified purchases and bookings at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services that I use personally and believe these will add value to my readers’ choices. Your support means a lot to me as it keeps this blog going.

What to see and do in Himeji, Japan

There are three places which you should not miss when visiting Himeji. All three mentioned below are located within easy reach of each other. These are:

1 | The popular Himeji Castle;

2 | The traditional Edo-style garden called Koko-en;

3 | The Engyoji Temple at Mount Shosha;


Himeji Castle is a hilltop landmark, a 17th century castle. Often called Hakuro-jo or Shirasagi-jo which means “White Egret Castle” because of its white façade and its appearance as a bird taking flight.

Here are some aspects of Himeji Castle which I found interesting and make a worthwhile visit.

1.1 | Himeji Castle is UNESCO World Heritage Site

Himeji Castle was constructed on an existing fort in 1601 under the order of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Tokugawa Shogunate ruled Japan from 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu ruled Japan with a mission to unify  the country. He built one castle in each province and good defences to stave off attacks.

This white castle has not seen a battle since it was built and had stood strong throughout the years, despite the bombings during the World Wars and earthquakes in Japan. The Castle is a National Treasure of Japan and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. It is one the few original castles from Japan’s feudal period that has moats, passageways and cherry trees.

The Castle is visible even as you begin your walk from Himeji Station. As you approach the Castle, there are various beautiful spots that make great photo opportunities. When you arrive, enter through the Otemon Gate, purchase your tickets and walk through the passageway to the Main Keep.

1.2 | The Main Keep and Interior of Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle has six floors and the Main Keep of the top floor offers spectacular views of the castle grounds and across the city itself, surrounded by beautiful mountains in the distance.

The Main Keep is the largest structure of the Castle and there are six floors. The staircases are steep, and it gets steeper and narrower as you climb higher. The climb to the top floor is one long queue, so take your time and try and capture the views of the castle grounds.  Also, take note of the loopholes used by the archers to defend the Castle during attacks.

1.3 | Gardens surrounding Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle | best of Himeji | timelesstravelsteps.com

When you have completed the Main Keep, make time to explore the gardens surrounding the Himeji Castle. This vast ground offers great photo opportunities. I visited Himeji Castle towards the end of the cherry blossom season and was fortunate to capture the beauty the season brings to Japan.

The sight of cherry trees planted in a long line with pink and white petals against the blue sky is simply awesome! There is an area of cherry blossom trees which serves both as a picnic and resting area offering shade.

1.4 | Meeting a Talented Artist at Himeji Castle

During my visit, I was fortunate to meet an incredibly talented gentleman called, Pierre, who is an artist/sketcher. His passion is to sketch every temple, every castle in Japan and China. He had been doing this for five years already. His book of sketches was beautiful, he captured every detail of the architecture and its history seamlessly.

Pierre informed me that he lives in Paris . Unfortunately, Pierre does not have a website/blogsite or a social media where he showcases his work. I want to mention him here, in this post because his work and his passion should be merited (I do have his consent to mention him in my post). I hope that one day, Pierre will find himself reading this post on the best of Himeji! 😊

1.5 | Travel tips and Useful information on Himeji Castle, Himeji

Useful information:

1 | Give yourself anything between 2 to 4 hours;

2 | Entrance fee: 1050 Yen for adults | Students: 360 Yen (Prices correct at time of update, Aug 6, 2022).

3 | Hours: Generally, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Summer (Apr 27 to Aug 31) 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

4 | Last entry is an hour before closing. As well, the Main Keep is not wheelchair accessible.

1.6 | Getting to Himeji Castle from Himeji Station

Take the North exit at Himeji Station. It is about 1km. It is not far at all when you walk along the Otemae-dori Street, the shops are a good distraction and the sight of the Castle is straight ahead of you.

After visiting Himeji Castle, you may wish to take a break or have a picnic under the cherry blossom tree before making your way to Koko-en Garden.


Koko-en Garden is 3.5 hectares, of traditional Edo-style garden just next to Himeji Castle. It is laid out in nine-themed sections, with water features, pagodas and step-stones projecting tranquillity. You can take as long as you like here and can take up to 2 hours  or more by the time you walk around all nine gardens. It took me almost 3 hours.

Koko-en at Himeji is home to nine gardens. Each with individual themes such as a Bamboo Garden, and it is really worthwhile to spend some time here


To the Northwest of Himeji City Centre, lies Mount Shosha which is home to Engyoji Temple, a Buddhist Monastery Mount Shosha can be accessed in thirty-minutes by bus and ropeway from Himeji city centre.

The Engyoji Temple buildings are dotted over a spacious, densely forested area on the mountain top. This Buddhist Temple is a Temple of the Tendai Sect and was founded by Shoku Shomin in 966. The well-preserved wooden buildings of Engyoji Temple and its surrounds are over a 1000 years old and has been used as a location for films such as “The Last Samurai” starred by Tom Cruise.

3.1 | Engyoji Temple Buildings

The atmospheric temple complex offers many buildings and observation points along with beautiful scenery. The hiking trails allow for many observation points. Some buildings and points to look out for when you visit are:

3.1.1 | Statues of Kannon and Niomon Gate

From the ropeway station to the Engyoji Temple, there is a series of thirty-three statutes of Kannon that line the walk uphill to the Niomon Gate. This uphill walk takes between ten and fifteen minutes.

3.1.2 | Maniden

best of Himeji | timelesstravelsteps.com

Maniden is a beautiful wooden temple hall. It is constructed on pillars and sits on a steep slope.

From here, follow the trails to the temple halls — takes about 5 minutes.

3.1.3 | Engyoji Temple halls

There are three massive wooden halls that make-up the centre of the Engyoji Temple, known as Mitsunodo — the Daikodo (main hall), the Jikido (previously a lodging and dining hall for the monks, now exhibits the temple treasures), along with a gymnasium, Jogyodo.

You could go further along the forest trails towards the Okunoin area where you shall find more buildings and observation points for views over Himeji city.

3.2 | Travel tips and Useful information on Engyoji Temple, Himeji

3.2.1 | Useful information:

1 | Entrance is 500 Yen

2 | Opens 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

3.2.2 | Getting to Engyoji Temple:

1 | From Himeji Station (north exit, bus stop 10) take bus #8 for Mt Shosha Ropeway. Alternatively, from Himeji Castle to the final stop ‘Mount Shosha Ropeway’. Journey time is around 30 minutes and costs 280 Yen one way. Buses depart every 20 minutes.

2 | Take the Mount Shosha Ropeway cable car to the top of Mt Shosha. This trip takes approximately 5 minutes. The Ropeway costs 600 Yen one way or 1000 Yen for a round trip. The cable car departs every 15 minutes.

3 | There is a bus service from the Ropeway point to Maniden. A round trip costs 500 Yen.

Pro tip: A convenient option is to purchase the ‘Shoshazan Ropeway’. This ticket combines a roundtrip by bus from Himeji Station to the Ropeway, and the Ropeway round trip for 1420 Yen. This ticket is available from the Shinki Bus Terminal, located in front of Himeji Station.


4.1 | How to get to Himeji

Himeji is easily accessible from Kyoto and Osaka

From Kyoto:

  • Shinkansen: Kyoto and Himeji are connected via the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen;
  • Hikari Shinkansen-55 minutes journey (Japan Rail Pass is valid)
  • Nozomi trains-45 minutes journey (Japan Rail Pass cannot be used)
  • JR Special Rapid Train: Shin-kaisoku takes 90 minutes.

From Osaka:

  • Shinkansen: Hikari, Sakura or Kodama trains – 40 minutes journey (Japan Rail Pass is valid);
  • JR Special Rapid Train: One hour journey.

Planning a trip to Japan

If you are planning a trip to Japan, how about checking out the following services to enhance your travel experiences? I use them when planning my own travels and I am sure you will find them useful too.

Travel resources at a Glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

1 | Legal entry/Tourist travel Visa

Check Visa requirements with iVisa, a leading independent company in the travel documentation industry.

2 | Flights

I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays. My all time favourite has been Qatar Airways for long-haul flights for the comfort and their first-class service. I use British Airways as well. For all other global deals >> kiwi.com

3 | Accommodations

My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget. For accommodations in UK that has a personal touch and affordable luxury, stay at Hotel du Vin.

4 | Unique experiences & tours

My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals. You shall find suggestions on recommended tours sprinkled throughout TTS on each experience I write about.

5 | Travel insurance

Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

6 | Travel essentials

Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.

You may also be interested in reading about my experiences in Kyoto, Hiroshima and Tokyo:

>Top 5 Must See in Kyoto;

>Ultimate 2 Kyoto Markets

>Itinerary on Hiroshima ; and

>how best to see Tokyo in 3 Days.

Have a great time discovering Himeji, Japan.

Georgina xx

What’s new

Pin me on Pinterest!

best of Himeji pin | timelesstravelsteps.com
best of Himeji pin2 | timelesstravelsteps.com
best of Himeji pin3 | timelesstravelsteps.com

Ultimate 1 day guide to the best of Himeji, Japan first published at timelesstravelsteps.com, regularly edited and updated. Last update Aug 6, 2022

Stay Connected with Timeless Travel Steps for the latest in our Travel News

*Privacy Policy


best of the United Kingdom | |isle of wight bucket list |quotes about Edinburgh | kyoto markets | timelesstravelsteps.com

By Georgina

Georgina is a travel writer and a content creator. An escapist, she seeks stories, off-beat things to do, and adores the beauty of culture while embracing comfort and slow travel as a responsible traveller in the off-season. Georgina has lived in 3 continents, visited 30+ countries and strives to share her travel steps, passion, and experienced tips to inspire her readers to explore for themselves. Georgina enjoys venturing solo, takes pleasure in listening to classical, country & jazz, and delights in spending joyous time with A & M, her two adult children.


  1. Isn’t Pierre so very talented!! Himeji is a beautiful part of Japan and there are so many gardens here that you will be spoilt for choice. They are indeed structured and orderly just as Victorian ones. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

  2. I wish I could sketch as well as Pierre! That’s a gorgeous sketch, and what a fabulous place to sit for a while to take in the surrounding flora and fauna. I do love Japanese style gardens. They’re so structured and orderly, also similar to Victorian gardens.

  3. Himeji is a beautiful part of Japan and the castle is definitely one not to be missed.

  4. I loved reading about Himeji Castle – the pictures are so pretty and I love that so much can be covered in a day

  5. You will definitely like Himeji, for sure. So glad that my post has inspired you to visit and that the information is helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Japan.

  6. Jan Banerjee says:

    Loved reading through this day trip! The Himeji castle architecture looks quite similar to the Osaka castle and the Koko-en garden reminds me of the Ritsurin Koen in Shikoku. There must be similarities in Japanese structures and gardens! I want to definitely do this day-trip when I visit Japan next. Thanks for an informative post! 🙂

  7. Thank you Nancy. Pierre is such a private individual – his skills were amazing and I hope he will eventually set himself up on line. Extraordinary talent!

  8. Thanks for sharing about this beautiful place! I also loved Pierre’s sketchbook. So sad that he doesn’t share it with the world.

  9. It’s my pleasure to share. I am glad my blog post brought back happy memories for you, Roz and hopefully you will return to Himeji to enjoy it again. Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Appreciate it much.

  10. I loved reading about Himeji Castle which I visited about 20 years ago. It brought back memories of a fabulous site. The gardens were also a real highlight. I hope we can go back one day and will take note of your very helpful tips. Many thanks for sharing!

Share your thoughts here...I would love to hear from you

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.