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Himeji Castle is the iconic Castle in Japan (in my opinion it’s basically the Castle in Japan that looks like the real-life Emoji Castle) and really should be on your Japan itinerary! But it’s one of the places that you’ve seen photos of but probably aren’t quite sure where Himeji Castle is!
Well, Himeji Castle is in the City of Himeji however there are not many other things to do in Himeji which is why it isn’t as well known and often gets’ missed from travellers Japan trips as unless you know it’s there, you won’t just stumble upon it.
Himeji is located not too far West from the popular cities of Osaka, Kobe & Kyoto and it’s on the Shinkansen line from these Cities to Hiroshima so it’s very popular for travellers to Japan to visit Himeji Castle on the way to or from Hiroshima by jumping off the train at Himeji Station and leaving their bags at the train station for a few hours.
It’s especially popular for travellers to Japan with a JR Pass as Himeji is on the JR route meaning the train there and back is included in your JR Pass and a great JR Pass Day Trip.
The other best way to see Himeji Castle is to visit on a day trip from Kobe, Osaka or Kyoto if you are staying in one of those 3 Cities and not getting the train to Hiroshima because it’s not far at all and very possible to do as a day or half-day trip, especially when travelling on the super-fast bullet trains aka Shinkansen trains!
Do you still need to get your JR Pass? Remember you need it BEFORE you get to Japan. Japan Rail Pass offers quick & free delivery so you can get it here!
I decided to visit Himeji Castle on my train from Hiroshima to Kobe however I debated this idea many times because of course I would have my big backpack with me and I had to google ‘does Himeji Station have baggage storage?’ many times! I found out that it does indeed have bag storage but then I was worried if they would all be full and if it would be a waste of a trip if they were as there’s no way I could carry my big backpack with me!
However, in the end, I decided to stop worrying and go to Himeji Castle from Hiroshima and decided, either way, I can advise you on the best way to visit Himeji when visiting by train to or from Hiroshima or Osaka.
Although I didn’t particularly enjoy my trip to Himeji Castle which was such a shame (this was because it was so busy as I am travelling through Japan in Cherry Blossom season, but also because the weather was bad) but I am glad I went and saw this famous Japan Castle in real life, and I did manage to lock my bags away in Himeji Station fine so there was no stress there!
Here’s what I learned from my trip to Himeji Castle from Hiroshima and tips to help you plan your trip:
Firstly, make sure your train goes through Himeji, it should do if you’re on the Shinkansen line, it will stop just before or after Shin-Kobe depending on which way you are travelling.
Remember to be up and ready as this is only a brief stop!
When you get off at Himeji Station from the Shinkansen train or a JR train, ‘coin lockers’ are what you are looking for. There were some as I went down the escalator from the Shinkansen and everyone, including me, was rushing to them. However, what I should have done was go through the barriers as there are plenty more coin lockers in Himeji Station there.
If there’s a key in the locker door it means it’s free and there are many different sizes, small ones for small backpackers only, mid-sized ones for backpacks and cabin suitcases and big ones for huge suitcases and the prices depending on the size.
I got a mid-sized coin locker for my backpack at Himeji Station which was 500Yen, I thought I’d struggle to get my backpack in but actually it fit in fine so if you are a backpacker don’t think you’ll need the extra big lockers, those are mainly being eyed up by people who have huge suitcases! The big lockers are 700Yen.
Payment is needed by 100Yen coins but there is a machine which gives out change.
As mentioned, I travelled to Himeji Castle in Cherry Blossom season which is the highest season in Japan. I got there at 11:00 am (also peak time) and plenty of other people got off the train in Himeji from Hiroshima to visit the Castle just like me. I struggled to find and get a locker to start with because there were so many people around but actually it was fine and I can imagine if it was fine for me on this incredibly busy day, it will for you too.
Failing that if you cannot see a coin locker free in Himeji Station at all, you can go out of the station and to the shopping mall underneath and there are coin lockers there.
One thing’s for sure, you do not need to arrange a luggage forwarding service when stopping at Himeji Castle as some TripAdvisor threads recommend!
Essentially, do not worry about visiting Himeji Castle on a train between Hiroshima, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto with baggage in fear of you not being able to put your bags anywhere as if you ask there are actually plenty of places you can store them in the train station and in nearby place if there are no more available.
Remember that once you’ve paid and locked your locker, it’s locked and you’ll need to pay again to open it and close it so get everything out you need to visit Himeji Castle, including your JR Pass as you need to show this again to get out of the station and to get another ticket to your next stop before picking your bags up.
It’s really easy to get from Himeji Train Station to Himeji Castle as it’s a straight 15-minute walk from Himeji Station to the Castle and the Castle can be seen in the distance as soon as you leave the train station which is really impressive.
You can visit the very outer edges of Himeji Castle for free however to get any closer you must pay and the entrance fee for Himeji Castle is 1000Yen per person.
I would say that if you have made the trip to Himeji, paid to store your bags and gone out of your way you really should pay to go inside in the Castle. The grounds inside are really big offering great views across the City and nearby Mountains and you get to go inside the Castle.
Himeji Castle inside is very empty, (although when I went it wasn’t as it was full of queuing people!) the lines take you through the Castle up each floor until you reach the top of the Castle to see a view.
It’s worth noting that the stairs in Himeji Castle are very steep so if you have trouble with stairs you may struggle and you need to take your shoes off to enter inside Himeji Castle so make sure you pack or wear some socks as the floor may be cold on your feet otherwise!
All in all, depending on the weather and the crowds you do not need to spend that long in the Castle but it is one of the most iconic places in Japan which is why it’s worth a visit.
Outside of the Castle there are plenty of restaurants and cafes offering sit-in food and take away street-style food and Himeji is a big city so there’s an indoor shopping Street between the Castle and the station too.
Aside from Himeji Castle, the next best thing to do in Himeji is to visit Kokoen Gardens which are to the left of the Castle. It costs to enter Koko-en gardens but you can also buy a joint admission ticket for the Castle and Gardens for 1040Yen according to their website.
There are tea houses in Kokoen Gardens and going in for a tea ceremony is a popular thing to do in Himeji.
After a few hours, you can head back to Himeji Station and carry on on your train to your next destination.
You’ll need to get a ticket whether you have the JR pass or not and the Shinkansen does not fun really frequently so it’s worth checking the times in advance just in case. I used Japan Direct App to check train times in Japan.
I hope this helps plan your trip to Himeji Castle, it’s definitely worth a visit as one of the best Castles in Japan to visit and especially if you’re taking a train via Himeji Station anyway!
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I’m Ellie Quinn!
I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!
NOV-DEC: PROBABLY INDONESIA
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