Himeji Castle is one of Japan’s most awe-inspiring national treasures, originally built in 1346, this UNESCO world heritage site has been around since before Eurasia even stumbled upon North America. Over the years, Himeji castle was updated, and reconstructed into its present form in the 16th and 17th centuries, where it has remained the city’s single most towering fixture of what’s now Hyogo prefecture.
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Himeji Castle Visiting Information
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Our Observations / Things to bring
What We Said In Our Himeji Castle Explainer
As a tourist attraction, we think it’s a great destination for a family with kids. Standing at its entrance, you can go left towards the castle or right towards the Himeji City Zoo, and we’ll talk about its zoo later in the video.
Starting at the entrance gate to the castle, you get your tickets and potential tour audio here before making your way up toward the main keep. The approach to the castle is impressive. Also known as the white heron castle, its white exterior and ornate roof tiles are beautiful. But its beauty does little to hide its countless fortifications and defensive measures that once made attacking the castle a terrifying one.
Himeji Castles Interior
Upon entering, you’re sat in a room where everyone is required to take off their shoes before you can walk inside the main keep, and once in, your socks will feel the most well-kept hardwood floor of your life as you take in its first dark lvl.
Heading up some extremely steep staircases, you spiral up the tower with curated information and displays along the way. Some of the most impressive features we took in on the way up were the castle’s central beam. One made of a massive tree that once spanned the castle’s vertical length. Weapon rooms and archer slits also drew our attention, as the view of Himeji City continued to improve the higher we climbed. And at the top, you’ll find a shrine of significance that you could donate to before you begin the trip back down on a different path.
Once out, the path brings you to a large open space at the foot of the castle that offers a place to relax, use the restrooms and view the grounds. Additional gardens and corridors are also available to experience, but we took the main path out, stopping at a few structures along the way before taking the girls to Himeji City Zoo.
Himeji City Zoo
The Zoo entrance fee is incredibly cheap and hard to pass up with kids in tow. Inside, you can view over 100 different species of animals ranging from dog-sized capybara rodents to a family of lions. It’s important to note that Himeji Zoo isn’t all that modernized, and the animals are just sitting there in small enclosures. While the smaller animals seem to be doing just fine. The larger animals don’t have much room to move. Of all the animals, the bear seemed to behave the roughest go on our visit. After we got back from trip we discovered many people shared similar worries about the animals at the zoo. So please do you’re research before making this a stop.
Outside of the animals, the zoo also has a couple of different sections of older coin-operated rides for the kids to poke around. Both our kids thought the rides were great until they started moving. After that, our youngest was done! In addition those, the zoo also has two locations for Larger, employee-operated rides. Rides like a roller coaster and a Ferris wheel you would see at most fairgrounds. While we didn’t go on them, the kids did look happy.
Even with those areas, the zoo was pretty quiet, with only a few groups of school kids running around when we were there. Himeji Zoo is a good value for its price, and its walking distance to Himeji Castle gives you an easy place to take the kids. But the large animals there aren’t as well kept as animals we’ve seen at other zoos, and it’s a concern.
But with respect to the castle, it’s well worth a half-day trip if you’re staying in Osaka. Using it’s Shinkansen Line, it’s only a 35 minutes to Himeji Station, and from there, the castle grounds are only a short bus ride away.
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