The short cherry blossom season is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit Japan.
In between Osaka and Okayama lies the town of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture. Located conveniently along the Sanyo shinkansen line, this city of roughly half a million has one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. For the last few years it’s been under scaffolding for refurbishing, but it has finally reopened.
From the station, it’s a brief 10 minute walk to Himeji Castle. (Sightseeing “Loop Buses” also make the journey for ¥100.) The walk can either be made on the wide street leading from the station or one street over (to the right, leaving the station) on a covered shopping street.
I made an afternoon visit in early April, just days before the end of the cherry blossom season. If you’re familiar with Japan, you’ll know that open spaces under cherry trees are usually taken by groups of people who drink & eat during the evening, so the park area in front of the castle was rather crowded, and I wasn’t able to make it to the actual inside of the castle (¥1,000) before the 4pm closing time. (In all honesty, I really hadn’t planned going inside – I just wanted to enjoy the view of the castle and the cherry trees!)
Walking around the castle provided many many opportunities to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
Behind the castle (off to the right side if you’re facing the front), lies the Himeji Shrine, which appears to be a popular spot for couples to take wedding pictures!
Directly behind the castle there’s a lovely park / garden area.
After a couple of hours enjoying the beauty, I made my way back to Himeji Station, from where I’d catch the shinkansen back to my hotel in Okayama. Inside the station shopping building, named Piole, there’s a Starbucks, with great views of the castle (if you’re lucky enough to get a window seat!)
Getting to Himeji Castle is simple from anywhere in the Kansai or Chugoku regions. Many shinkansen stop at Himeji station – be sure to check the timetable, because some trains bypass Himeji Station.
- 16 minutes from Shin-Kobe on the Nozomi Shinkansen, ¥2,700
- 23 minutes from Shin-Kobe on the Hikari Shinkansen, ¥2,700
- 21 minutes from Okayama on the Nozomi Shinkansen, ¥3,220
- 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka on the Nozomi Shinkansen, ¥3,220
- 41 minutes from Sannomiya (Kobe) on the Tokaido Line, ¥970
Don’t forget, all of these trips would be covered under your Japan Rail Pass or many of the various JR West passes.
Walking from the station takes 13 minutes according to Google, but it felt much quicker to me!This entry was posted in Asia, Japan