The last time I visited Himeji was in 2009. The castle was still undergoing some serious reconstruction on the main keep, but the grounds were open and they had erected an elevator and viewing platforms from which you could observe the work. I joined a tour with an english speaking guide who showed the group around the garden, the keep, and the construction and it was really pleasant – quiet:
I was eager to visit with mum to show her around, especially as the construction had finished earlier this year and the castle would be completely visible and accessible.
We set off from Shin-Osaka on the Shinkansen out to Himeji. It was the first of bullet train ride during our visit and we were able to observe some suburban areas during the trip. While we were on the train out to Shin-Osaka we saw the first of many dogs on Himeji day, and this one happened to be having an extraordinarily bad time.
As we made our way through the station (stopping for some chiffon cake) and out into the town, I was immediately struck by how present the castle is.
I really enjoy visiting Himeji. It is quiet, clean and not especially built up (by comparison to other areas we had visited and would visit on our trip) and the locals are friendly. On our walk from the station to the castle we stopped in at a Japanese supermarket for some fresh fruit, and took in some of the scenery.
The approach to the castle is breathtaking. Last time I was here the main keep was completely covered – to see it completed was fantastic.
Once we made it into the castle grounds I realised that it wasn’t going to be as laid back as my last visit – the grounds were full of people excited to see the castle and there were enormous queues to go inside. We went on a weekend, so I’m not sure if the crowds vary on weekdays, but it was still worth the wait.
The view from the climb – the grounds and the city – changed as we moved higher into the main keep. Due to the number of visitors the climb was slow (and with plenty of queues along the way). When we reached the top there was a shrine and a fantastic view of the city.
We spent the rest of the afternoon adventuring around town – we found a great udon place and spotted lots of dogs – and got back to Dotonbori to be tourists for the afternoon. Mum was pretty keen on getting some laundry done, so I went on an adventure for socks and desserts for us to share.