A Complete Himeji Day Trip Itinerary
A Himeji day trip is the perfect addition to any Japan itinerary. With one day in Himeji, you can easily visit many top attractions including Himeji Castle, Kokoen Garden, and Shoshazan Engyo-ji Temple.
When we visited Himeji the start of some of the craziest events from our three months in Japan began. Record-breaking rainfall, flooding, and landslides were happening all around the Kansai and Chugoku regions of Japan and we were in the thick of it while we attempted to drive from Kobe to Himeji. We were even rerouted a number of times on the road before finally making it to our hotel for the evening.
However, all of the craziness that happened before arriving in Himeji was entirely worth it once we woke up the next morning and visited the attractions that we will cover in this Himeji day trip itinerary.
Where is Himeji?
Himeji is a city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is well-known for the stunning, Himeji Castle, which is considered to be Japan’s most beautiful surviving feudal castle. Because of its close proximity to Osaka and Kyoto, visiting for a Himeji day trip is a very popular choice as many of the sites can be seen within a day.
How to Get to Himeji
How to Get to Himeji From Kyoto
From Kyoto, Himeji is about 45 minutes – 1.5 hours away by train (and/or bus) depending on the route you take. The fastest and easiest way to get to Himeji from Kyoto is by Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen which costs approximately ¥5,170 one-way from Kyoto Station (or is covered by an active JR Pass).
How to Get to Himeji From Osaka
From Osaka, Himeji is about 30-45 minutes away by train depending on the route you take. The fastest and easiest way to get to Himeji from Osaka is also by the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen which costs approximately ¥3,820 one-way from Shin-Osaka Station (or is covered by an active JR Pass).
How to Get to Himeji From Tokyo
Getting to Himeji from Tokyo is a bit more extensive due to the distance between Tokyo and Himeji. But it could still be doable for a day trip to Himeji or an overnight stay, you’d just have to get up early to make sure to account for enough time. From Tokyo, Himeji is about 3 hours away. You would also take the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen which costs approximately ¥16,260 from Tokyo Station (or is covered by an active JR Pass).
For those looking for an alternative option to the Shinkansen, the Sanyo Honsen line is another way to get to Himeji from Kobe, Osaka, or Kyoto.
How to Get to Himeji by Car
Another open for traveling to Himeji is by car, which is the mode of transportation we actually used during our day trip to Himeji. We drove from Kobe to Himeji which should have only taken us about an hour but ended up taking us MUCH longer due to flooding and landslides that were happening all around this area of Japan during the time we were visiting. Fortunately, we ended up driving there in the evening and getting a hotel so we had ample time to follow our day trip to Himeji itinerary the following day.
Transportation in Himeji
Since we drove to Himeji our main mode of transportation was by car and we found ample parking during our visit, however, if you are visiting during a popular time, like spring, that might not be a guarantee. Himeji also has trains, an electric railway, and city buses that will take you to or close to a number of different attractions in Himeji.
Trains & Electric Railway in Himeji
Although traveling to Himeji by train is convenient, traveling around Himeji by train is not due to limited stations and train lines. However, some of the attractions in this Himeji day trip itinerary can be reached by train so we will include a list here.
The Bantan Line leaves from Himeji Station and travels north towards Himeji Central Park and the Japan Toy Museum.
The Kishin Line leaves from Himeji Station and travels to the Sakurayama Hills area.
The JR Sanyo Main Line leaves from Himeji Station and travels to the Tegarayama area.
The Sanyo Electric Railway entrance and platforms are located on the second floor of the Sanyo Department Store at Sanyo Himeji Station. It takes you to the coast of Himeji near Boze Fisherman’s Market, and a few beaches.
Buses in Himeji
If you plan on utilizing buses in Himeji as your primary form of transportation, you might consider getting a bus day pass for the Himeji Castle loop.
Not only will this pass save you money on transportation fees, but it also gives you special admission rates to Himeji Castle, Kokoen Garden, the Museum of Art, the Museum of Literature, and the Museum of History. The Himeji Castle loop bus pass can be purchased at the Shinki Bus Information Center.
Operating Hours: 9am-4:30pm (weekdays), 9am-5pm (weekends) from March-November. Only on weekends December-February.
Cost: 300 yen (adults), 150 yen (children) for a one-day pass
Biking in Himeji
The Himeji City Tourist Information Center (TIC) has bikes available to rent for free! After visiting Himeji, we both felt like traveling to some of the main attractions by Himeji Castle would be so nice by bicycle so this is a great option if the weather is nice.
Location: Himeji City Tourist Information Center (TIC) at Himeji Station
Hours: 9am-5:30pm (registration until 4pm)
READ MORE: Things To Know About Driving in Japan
When to Visit Himeji
The most popular time to visit Himeji is in the spring with the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Not only are the sakura trees gorgeous, but Himeji Castle in the background also makes for one of the most picturesque settings in Japan, if not the world too!
However, as we say about most places in Japan, Himeji has different kinds of beauty in every season. In the summer, when we visited, the greenery was gorgeous but it was also the rainy season and was extremely humid.
During autumn, Japan’s fall foliage is stunning in Himeji which also makes for a picturesque setting with the contrast of colors at Himeji Castle.
In the winter, Himeji does get some snowfall which makes the beautiful, white castle even more pristine to look at. In all, a day trip to Himeji is perfect for any time you visit Japan.
Where to Stay in Himeji
While this Himeji itinerary is focused on a Himeji day trip, one of the nice things about staying the night in Himeji is it allows more time to see the many things to do in Himeji and hotels are all fairly inexpensive. If you plan to stay the night in Himeji here are our recommendations.
HOTEL FOR THOSE DRIVING IN HIMEJI
Chisun Inn Himeji Yumesakibashi: If driving in Himeji this is the hotel we recommend and where we stayed while in Himeji. It’s a little further from the city center, but it has a large free parking lot and the rooms are comfortable and affordable.
BUDGET HOTELS IN HIMEJI
Dormy Inn Himeji: This hotel is highly ranked by travelers and is affordable. While we haven’t stayed at this particular Dormy Inn we’ve stayed at a number of others and they’ve always been a great, budget-friendly option without having to sacrifice many comforts. This hotel is highly ranked by travelers, affordable, and close to Himeji Station which makes travel convenient to/from Himeji and while in Himeji too.
MID-RANGE HOTELS IN HIMEJI
Hotel Monterey Himeji: This 3-star hotel is close to Himeji Station and features luxurious Art Deco-inspired rooms, some with a view of Himeji Castle from the window! It is also a great family-friendly hotel option.
LUXURY HOTELS IN HIMEJI
Yuyake Koyake: Himeji City doesn’t offer many luxury accommodations but if you’re driving or want a romantic getaway off the beaten path, Yuyake Koyake is the perfect place to stay. This intimate ryokan has only 17 rooms all with an open-air bath. Considering the amenities it is quite affordable for a luxury ryokan making this a worthwhile place to consider for a longer stay in Himeji.
Top Things to Do in Himeji
The top three attractions in Himeji are typically what most people focus on when visiting Himeji for the first time, they are also the attractions that you need to account for the most time. Because of this, we have broken this Himeji itinerary into two attraction categories, the top things to do in Himeji and other attractions to consider adding to your Himeji day trip itinerary.
Himeji Castle is also known as the White Heron Castle (Hakuro-jo) because of its beautiful white exterior and is often considered to resemble a white heron taking flight. It is the largest and one of the most visited castles in Japan due to its pristine beauty and history, it was even named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 (the first in Japan).
Himeji Castle was built at the beginning of the 17th century (1333), which is why its history is so impressive. Unlike many castles in Japan that were destroyed by fire, natural disasters, or war and later rebuilt, Himeji Castle has stood strong for over 600 years. Himeji City was heavily bombed during World War II, and while the areas surrounding the castle were burned, Himeji Castle remained. A bomb was dropped on the castle’s top floor but did not detonate. In 1995, the Great Hanshin earthquake destroyed much of Himeji City, but the castle still remained virtually unscathed. But, like any historical monument, it has been restored a few times, its most recent restoration lasted from 2009-2015.
One of the features of Himeji Castle we found most intriguing is how advanced the security system was for its time. Surrounding the castle was not one, not two, but THREE moats, today you can still see two. The castle grounds were also designed in a way to confuse enemies with a strategic maze of 84 different gates (of which 21 still remain intact).
Should an enemy get past the moats and gates, those guarding the castle could attack offenders by throwing large stones from the many platforms by the windows. There is also a number of small rooms for hiding places so defenders could surprise attack their enemy.
One last security feature of Himeji Castle I’d like to touch on is the 997 loophole openings in the walls and towers called “Sama.” The sama were used as openings to fire guns or arrows. There are four shapes of these loopholes, oblong for bows and round, triangular, and square for guns. You’d have to be extremely skillful to make it through all of these defense systems!
Best Himeji Castle Viewing Spots
- Bridge at Himeji Castle entrance.
- Otemae Street: View from the street center.
- JR Himeji Station: View from the crosswalk area between Piole and JR Himeji Station.
- Himeji City Museum of Art: View at the entrance of the museum.
- Egret Himeji: Offers a great view of Himeji Castle from the top deck.
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm (September – April), 9am-6pm (May – August) Last admission one hour prior to closing.
Cost: 1,000 yen (adult, castle only), 1,040 yen (adult, Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden), 300 yen (child, castle only), 360 yen (child, castle and garden)
Next to Himeji Castle is Kokoen Garden, which is composed of nine different Japanese gardens that vary in appearance seasonally. We personally enjoyed the flowers, bamboo garden, and the pond with colorful carp swimming in it. Also inside the garden is Soju-an Tea Room where you can enjoy a cup of matcha in a traditional tea room ceremony setting for 500 yen.
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Hours: 9am-5pm Last entry at 4:30pm
Cost: 300 yen (adult, garden only), 1,040 yen (adult, Koko-en Garden and Himeji Castle), 150 yen (child, garden only), 360 yen (child, garden and castle)
Shoshazan Engyoji Temple & Mount Shosha
You might recognize this area from the popular film, The Last Samurai, but Shoshazan Engoyji is also a sacred place for Buddhism. It is one of three training centers of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism! Those visiting the grounds are able to see the Maniden (the main building), the Daikodo great lecture hall, and the Gohodo worship hall.
Because it takes about 30 minutes to get to Engyoji Temple from the city center by bus and the Shoshazan Ropeway, I would suggest scheduling a few hours of time and bringing good walking or hiking shoes. The many temple buildings are spread out over the dense forest on Mount Shosha. From the ropeway station, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the Niomon Gate on foot and another 10-15 minutes to reach the iconic temple hall, Maniden.
If you aren’t interested in hiking from the ropeway station there is also a bus that goes from the station to the Maniden every 20 minutes. While visiting this area, I also suggest stopping at the Hazuki Teahouse for some shopping and amazake (sweet sake). If your schedule allows it, you could also make a reservation at Juryoin to enjoy shojin ryori, a traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine.
Address: 2968 Shosha, Himeji, Hyogo 671-2201, Japan
Hours: 8:30am to 5:00pm
Cost for Engyoji Temple: 500 yen (not including the ropeway ride), 500 additional yen for a round-trip bus ride.
Mt. Shosha Ropeway Information
How To Get To Mt. Shosha Ropeway: Take bus #8 from the terminal 10 bus station at Himeji Station to the Shoshazan Ropeway bus stop.
Cost for Mt. Shosha Ropeway: 600 yen one-way (adult), 1,000 yen round trip (adult), 300 yen one-way (child), 500 yen round trip (child). You can also get a discounted round trip ticket for the bus and ropeway at the Himeji Bus Terminal for 1,400 yen (adult) or 700 yen (child).
READ MORE: The Best Day Trips from Tokyo
Other Himeji Day Trip Attractions to Consider
Himeji City Museum of Art
The Himeji City Museum of Art is located in a beautiful brick building dating back to 1905 with a view of Himeji Castle at the entrance. It features over 3,700 works of art including collections of local and international artists, such as Paul Delvaux and René Magritte.
Address: 68-25 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Hours: 10am-5pm, Closed Mondays
Cost: 200 yen (adults), 150 yen (high school or university students), 100 yen (children)
Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
If you’d like to discover more about Himeji, the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History features the history of the Hyogo Prefecture and Himeji Castle. There are two permanent exhibits at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History including the History of Himeji section which features historical artifacts and readings on the life of Himeji residents from ancient to modern times.
The second permanent exhibit is the Castle and Town section which includes information on Himeji Castle. Other things to do at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History include videos about the Hyogo Prefecture and trying on 12-layered court kimono or samurai armor.
Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0012, Japan
Hours: 10am-5pm, Closed Mondays
Cost: 200 yen (adults), 150 yen (university students), 100 yen (high school students and younger)
Himeji City Museum of Literature
World-renowned architect Ando Tadao designed the Himeji City Museum of Literature which is centered in Himeji City. It features a memorial room for author Shiba Ryotaro, a number of local pieces of literature, and of course, more on the history of Himeji Castle.
Address: 84 Hyogo, Himeji, Yamanoicho 670-0021, Japan
Hours: 10am-5pm (entry until 4:30pm), Closed Mondays
Cost: 300 yen (adults), 200 yen (high school students), 100 yen (children)
Shosha Art & Craft Museum
The Shosha Art & Craft Museum is home to many historical Japanese folk toys and traditional Buddhist art and craftworks. The museum is heavily concentrated on the works of Shimizu Kosho (1911-1999), the former head priest of Todaiji Temple in Nara.
On some weekends and holidays, there are classes offered to learn paper making, leather goods, and woodturning. Best of all, you get to take your craft with you, which is a rather neat souvenir to take home.
Address: 1223 Shosha, Himeji, Hyogo 671-2201, Japan
Hours: 10am-5pm, Last entry at 4:30pm, Closed Mondays
Cost: 300 yen (adults), 200 yen (high school and university students), 50 yen (children)
Where can you find the Great Wall of China, Egyptian Pyramids, the Arc de Triomphe, and Neuschwanstein Castle all in one place? Taiyo Park, that’s where. Taiyo Park is an amusement park in rural Himeji that has replicas of famous landmarks from around the world.
As if the sites at Taiyo Park weren’t enough to interest you, the park is run by staff and residents of an on-site nursing home! The idea behind Taiyo Park is to provide people who have difficulties traveling with the feeling of traveling to some of the most famous landmarks around the world.
Address: 1342-6 Uchikoshi, Himeji, Hyogo 671-2246, Japan (40-minute bus ride from Himeji City)
Hours: 9am-5pm Last entry at 4:30pm
Cost: 1,300 yen (adults), 600 yen (children)
Shopping in Himeji
- Miyuki Street Shopping District: Miyuku Street is a covered pedestrian shopping street that has a variety of stores and restaurants. It’s similar to many other shopping streets in Japan, but we found there were significantly fewer people which made the experience more enjoyable without the crowds.
- Piole Himeji: Attached to the JR Himeji Station, this 6-floor shopping mall has a tax-free store, sweet shops, a food court, and other specialty shops.
- Sanyo Department Store: The Sanyo Department Store is connected to Sanyo-Himeji Station, like the Piole Himeji it has a variety of specialty stores and restaurants.
Where to Eat in Himeji
Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery
The Nadagiku Shuzo Sake Brewery is steeped in history and has seven sake-making rooms and tours to learn more about the manufacturing of sake and tastings. There is also an on-site restaurant that features a variety of dishes specially made with fermented ingredients. You can either come for lunch and some sake tasting or just the tour and tasting!
Address: 1 Chome-121 Tegara, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0972, Japan
We walked by Ton Ichi while shopping in Himeji and couldn’t help but stop for lunch due to their appetizing menu. While Ton Ichi serves mainly tonkatsu, a panko-breaded and fried pork cutlet, they also have chicken and seafood options too. Each entree is served alongside cabbage, rice, miso soup, and a Worcestershire dipping sauce.
Address: Japan, 〒670-0927 Hyogo, Himeji, Ekimaecho, 363-1 フ フェスタビル1F Google Location
Tsurukame Hachiban Himeji
Quick, funny story about Tsurukame Hachiban Himeji. We found this small izakaya when walking through Grand Festa. It had a large variety of small plates but we stood there for a little while debating on if we wanted to go in. While we were standing there, a couple walked by and told us to come in and sit with them so we did!
They ordered everything for us and every single thing was delicious and reasonably priced. Eventually, their daughter showed up to meet us too and we found out that they own a sushi restaurant in Himeji, which we are definitely planning to visit when we return to Himeji. All this to say, we spent hours chatting with this family but didn’t take any photos of the food we ate at Tsurukame Hachiban Himeji! All in good company.
Address: Japan, 〒670-0927 Hyogo, Himeji, Ekimaecho, 188-1 グランフェスタ 6番街 居酒屋 Google Location
Cafe de Miki
For die-hard fans of Hello Kitty, you have to visit Cafe de Miki! It’s an adorable cafe covered in bows and pink! I recommend getting a sweet treat to share such as one of their ice cream parfaits or pancake sets.
Address: 309 Ekimaecho, Himeji, Hyogo 670-0927, Japan