Himeji Castle – Enduring Elegance in White
Himeji Castle's beautiful form has endured for over 400 years and will surely put a spell on anyone who sees it. Visit this amazing white national treasure and fall in love.
Located in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, Himeji Castle is one of only five castles that are considered national treasures. The other four being Matsumoto Castle in Nagano Prefecture, Inuyama Castle in Aichi Prefecture, Matsue Castle in Shimane Prefecture and Hikone Castle in Shiga Prefecture. Himeji Castle also goes by the name of hakuro-jo (white egret castle) or shirasagi-jo (white heron castle) due to its elegant form and pure white exterior that echoes these birds.
About Himeji Castle
The oldest parts of Himeji Castle date back to 1333 when Akamatsu Norimura built a fortress on top of Himeyama hill. The fort was later dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346. Two centuries later it was remodeled into Himeji Castle and restructured again in 1581 by the famous Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Japanese revolutionary and “unifier” of the country) who added a three-story castle keep.
Finally, it was expanded from 1601 to 1609 with other buildings gradually added from 1617 to 1618 to form the proper castle complex we can see today. For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, defying the extensive bombing campaigns of World War II and natural catastrophes such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.
Want more castles? Check out our article on the Top 15 Castles in Japan.
Further Info and Events
There are two festivals at the castle that come particularly highly recommended. Have a read through the two great events below and get ready to experience Japan:
1. Himeji Yukata Festival
The Himeji Yukata festival is definitely one of the city’s most exciting summer events and a load of fun for young and old. With 800 vendors filling the event location around Himeji Castle, it is one of the largest festivals in Western Japan. The highlight is a parade, which includes – among other things – a large group of children in different yukata (summer kimono) carrying traditional revolving lanterns. It is held every year from June 22nd to 24th.
More info on the Himeji Yukata Festival on the official city page here.
Day 2: Himeji Yukata Matsuri The reason we went out of the way to Himeji — So that we could wear yukatas and blend in with the locals. Really is like a pasar malam just that some people bother to dress up la. Taiwanese friend was not impressed in this respect. Lol. Didn’t play the games because you know, I’m not 12 or under. #oldliao #himeji #yukata #himejiyukatafestival #himejiyukatamatsuri #matsuri #japan #travel #festival #nightmarket #pasarmalam
2. Himeji Castle Festival
The other great event you shouldn’t miss is the biggest festival in Himeji, held in celebration of the anniversary of Himeji Castle. A variety of exciting events take place every year during the festival’s three days, with a 3D Mapping Show on the façade of the castle a particularly notable highlight. This event takes place from August 3rd to August 5th and attracts quite a number of spectators and visitors.
More info on the Himeji Castle Festival on the official city page here.
Mon – Sun
09.00 am – 06.00 pm (April – August)
09.00 am – 05.00 pm
Entry is allowed until one hour before the closing time.
Tickets to Himeji Castle
adult: 1,000 yen
child: 300 yen (incl. high school student)
NOTE: The castle is not accessible by wheelchair. Multiple assistants are required to help wheelchair users around the grounds and castle.
Access from one of the following three train stations around the castle grounds:
Himeji Station (JR Bantan, Sanyo, Hamakaze Kishin, Super-Hakuto, Tokaido-Sanyo lines and Tokaido Sanyo Shinkansen)
Sanyo Himeji Station (Sanyo Dentetsu Line)
Kyoguchi Station (JR Bantan and Hamakaze lines)
It takes around 10 to 15 minutes from each station to the castle park, so you might as well enjoy the stroll along Himeji’s main street leading up to the castle. It’s a nice walk with the guiding beacon at the end of the road being the bright white walls of Himeji Castle.