Quiet, understated shrine near the northeast corner of the castle park.
Himeji City Museum of Art
The permanent collection here includes painting, sculpture and crafts by Japanese and overseas (particularly Belgian) artists.
Across the castle's western moat is this stunning reconstruction of the former samurai quarters. Nine Edo Period–style homes boast...
They make their own noodles at this homey, cheerful little joint a few minutes' walk from the castle. It's not fancy, but it serves an...
68 Honmachi · interesting places nearby
Japan's most magnificent castle, Himeji-jō is one of only a handful of original castles remaining (most are modern concrete reconstructions). Its nickname Shirasagi-jō ('White Egret Castle') comes from its lustrous white plaster exterior and stately form on a hill above the plain. There's a five-storey main keep (tenshū ) and three smaller keeps, and the entire structure is surrounded by moats and defensive walls punctuated with rectangular, circular and triangular openings for firing guns and shooting arrows.
The main keep's walls also feature ishiotoshi – narrow openings that allowed defenders to pour boiling water or oil onto anyone trying to scale the walls after making it past the other defences. On balance, we recommend visitors to pay the admission charge and enter the castle by legitimate means.
Although there have been fortifications in Himeji since 1333, today's castle was built in 1580 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and enlarged some 30 years later by Ikeda Terumasa. Ikeda was awarded the castle by Tokugawa Ieyasu when the latter's forces defeated the Toyotomi armies. In the following centuries it was home to 48 successive lords.
Now is prime time to visit because much of the castle was closed for a five-year renovation.
It takes around 1½ hours to follow the arrow-marked route around the castle. Last entry is an hour before closing.