Himeji Castle (姫路城, Himejijo) is widely considered Japan's most spectacular castle. Unlike many other Japanese castles, Himeji Castle was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes or fires and survives in its original form. It is both a national treasure and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Construction Notice: Major renovation works are being carried out on the castle keep's roof and walls from April 2010 until March 2015 (see photos of the current state). Below is a schedule of the renovation works and the effects they have on a visit to the castle:
From now until spring 2014
A large scaffold structure is covering up the entire main castle keep. Depending on the state of the works, the interior of the castle keep is completely or partially closed to tourists.
Until January 15, 2014, visitors are able to use an elevator to access an observation deck in the scaffold structure, from where the renovation works can be observed (see our reports in March 2011, April 2012 and November 2012). The observation deck's limited capacity might result in waiting times on busy days. To avoid bad surprises, it is possible to make advance reservations for the observation deck on a bilingual website.
Most other parts of the castle grounds are accessible to tourists.
The scaffold structure will be removed, during which time the interior of the castle keep will be off limits to visitors. It is scheduled that the castle keep will become fully visible again around August 2014. And the renovation works are scheduled to be fully completed by the end of March 2015.
Alternative castle destinations in the region
Alternative castle destinations during Himeji's renovation include Hikone Castle, not far from Kyoto. While its castle keep is much smaller than Himeji's, Hikone Castle is also original with a wooden interior, impressive walls and moats and an interesting approach. Another alternative is Osaka Castle, although its castle keep is a relatively recent concrete reconstruction with a modern museum inside.
From Himeji Station, the castle can be reached in a 15-20 minute walk or 5 minute bus or taxi ride along the broad Otemae-dori Street, which leads straight from the station to the castle.
information source: japan-guide.com
9:00 to 17:00 (until 18:00 from late April through August)
Admission into the inner castle grounds ends one hour before closing time.
Admission to the observation deck starts at 9:15 and ends 45 minutes before closing.
The observation deck will be open until January 15, 2014.
600 yen (reduced to 400 yen during the renovation until March 2015)
Observation platform: 200 yen
Address: 68, Honmachi, Himeji-shi, Hyogo
Airport: Itami Airport
December 29 and 30