You might not know the name but you probably recognise the image. Himeji castle is one of the top tourist destinations in Japan and the most visited castle in Japan!
Himeji castle is often said to be the finest Japanese castle. Himeji castle was first constructed in 1333 and expanded over the years, even being demolished and reconstrcutrd twice! Himeji is quite the tough castle having survived the bombing of WWII and the great earthquake in 1995. It was restored over a period of five years which was completed in 2015 allowed the stunning white walls to shine again. Himeji is a enormous castle complex comprising of 83 buildings, grounds and moat.
We got the Himeji castle at around 9:30am while travelling to Hiroshima. Even though the castle gates only opened at 9 there were already queues for tickets, and it was a rainy day! Obviously during sakura season, when we visited, would be busier, but being the most visited castle in Japan Himeji is always busy. We went first to explore the inside of the castle, as usual no shoes allowed inside. The castle is truly beautiful inside and the plaques dotted around give an idea of the function of the castle through the years. Sadly due to it being so busy it was a bit of a shuffle going through so there wasn’t as much of an opportunity to stop and take it in.
The grounds though are vast and it was easier to explore at our leisure. There are many outbuildings that you can go into also. Himeji is beautiful so I would never say miss it, but getting there early is really recommended. When we left at lunchtime the queue to get into the castle was incredibly long. You could easily spend a whole day here, there is even a zoo on the grounds of the castle.