There’s something very relaxing about walking the streets of Himeji. A relatively small town, Himeji exudes relaxation as locals to this town are chilled and laid back individuals themselves. In spite of this, Himeji is home to some exciting attractions that could turn a regular vacation into an extraordinary one.
1. Visit Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is, hands down, the best preserved feudal castle in the entire country. Trust us, this isn’t an understatement and it’s simply because it is the one of the few castles in Japan to have never been destroyed war or natural disasters. It’s imposing size and stunning architecture leaves many visitors breathless and we’re sure it will do the same to you.
- Name: Himeji Castle
- Price: ¥1000
- Access: 15 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride from Himeji Station
- Opening hour: 9:00 – 17:00
2. Hike Mount Shosha
Enjoy a great view and get some exercise in at Mount Shosha. Home to the famous Engyo-ji Temple, Mount Shosha’s trails are challenging yet still beginner friendly, so it’s suitable for travelers who are new to hiking but would like to give it a try. Hiking to the top of Mount Shosha or to Engyo-ji Temple will take roughly 45 to 60 minutes. If the hike proves to be too tough, however, you can always stop at the next ropeway station and take the cable up the rest of the way.
3. Try Tatsuriki Sake
If you can only try one kind of alcohol during your visit to Himeji, make sure you ask for Tatsuriki Sake. A specialty of Himeji, Tatsuriki is considered a premium sake and is one of the top 5 kinds in the entire country. Whether you’re enjoying it chilled or warmed, this sake is incredibly smooth and pairs well with many traditional dishes.
4. Shop at Himeji’s Flea Markets
Flea markets in Japan are actually a lot rarer than you think, so when you come across one, you pretty much know that you’re in for some crazy bargains. At Himeji’s Flea Markets, you can find some stylish second hand clothing and purses or even pick up some brand new jewelry from local vendors. There’s no shortage of amazing finds at these markets, so make sure to stop and browse when you come across one.
5. Journey to Engyo-ji Temple
Have you watched a movie called “The Last Samurai?” If yes, then we’re sure you’ll recognize this temple. With an illustrious 1,000 year history, the Engyo-ji Temple features a stunning wooden architecture and an inexplicable tranquility. While most people have come to know about the temple due to its use as a main filming location in “The Last Samurai,” the temple is a popular one amongst locals and is still very much bustling with activity today.
- Name: Engyo-ji Temple
- Price: ¥500
- Access: 5 minute walk from the Mt. Shosha Ropeway Station
- Opening hour: 8:30 – 18:00
6. Explore Tegarayama Park
There’s no shortage of fun to be had at the Tegarayama Park. History buffs can visit the WWII Museum or the monorail museum within the grounds. On the other hand, animal lovers can go to the aquarium. If you’re in love with nature, take a stroll through the park’s botanical gardens. However, for families looking for a fun time, the most exciting feature of Tegarayama definitely has to be their amusement park. To end your trip there, enjoy the views from the top of the ferris wheel.
- Name: Tegarayama Park
- Address: 93 Tegara, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture 670-0972
7. Taste Himeji Oden
Tuck into all kinds of Himeji’s oden, a simple and healthy type of food that’s often sold by street vendors and convenience stores. Especially delicious during the winter, oden is served with a rich and deep brown broth that satisfy any craving. Enjoy it with some soy sauce and ginger or dip it in some Karashi mustard for a kick of spice.
8. Stop by Piole for Some Shopping
One of the most popular department stores in Himeji, Piole offers a range of shopping opportunities from cheap home goods to iconic Japanese clothing brands. Other stores include a rather large book shop and local boutiques. If you’re just curious about the trends and styles that are popular in Japan, Piole is a great place to go window shopping as well.
9. Stroll Around Kokoen Garden
Although it is a young garden just opened in 1992, the beauty of Kokoen Garden is difficult to articulate with just words alone. It’s truly a site to behold consisting of nine walled gardens, each featuring a prominent style of traditional gardens from the Edo Period. Explore pine tree or bamboo gardens, a small waterfall, or enjoy a tea ceremony in the tea garden. The choice is yours.
- Name: Kokoen Garden
- Price: ¥300
- Access: 20 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride from Himeji Station
- Opening hour: 9:00 – 18:00
10. Enjoy the Yukata Matsuri
To be completely honest, there isn’t much history or tradition behind Himeji’s Yukata Matsuri. In fact, local girls pretty much use it as a reason to get dressed in their stunning yukatas, eat delicious street side food, shop at booths and enjoy fairy-type games. But isn’t that a good enough reason on it’s own to go?
11. Eat Tamago-Kake-Gohan
Tamago-kake-gohan is practically synonymous with Japanese comfort food. At it’s core, this dish is just a bowl of short grain rice mixed with raw egg, but Himeji takes this traditional favorite and elevates it with various seasons like furikake and toasted nori. Heck, some places will even serve some premium camembert cheese with their tamago-kake-gohan. If you’re always been curious about the taste of raw egg but have been too chicken to try it, this is the perfect introductory dish.
12. Visit the Himeji Ceramics Market
Himeji is in large supply of skilled and artistic craftsmen, especially when it comes to ceramic wear. Hit up the Himeji Ceramics Market to see some gorgeous pieces like plates, mugs and vases, and perhaps even take one home for yourself or as a gift for someone special back home. You might even be lucky enough to watch someone in the midst of making a mug or two.
13. Himeji City Museum of Art
Himeji, unlike Tokyo or Fukuoka, isn’t particularly known for its art, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any of it’s own to showcase. At the Himeji City Museum of Art, you can admire the works of local artists from the region and also view collections of European art. Special exhibits can also be viewed at the museum throughout the year.
- Name: Himeji City Museum of Art
- Address: 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture
- Price: ¥200
- Opening hour: 10:00 – 17:00
14. View the Cherry Blossoms in Spring
There are few things in the world more beautiful in the Japan than fully bloomed cherry blossoms in the spring, and it just so happens that Himeji has tons of them. To enjoy the best that the cherry blossom viewing season has to offer, head to Himeji Castle. The markets and street-side vendors always are particularly plentiful during this season and the cherry tree gardens of the castle are spectacular.
15. Search for Himeji’s Best Street Food
Japanese food is delicious. There’s no point in arguing about it. However, sometimes, the most tasty food can actually be found on the streets rather than in a fancy restaurant. At Himeji, frequent street markets give way to some incredible foodie finds that will blow your mind. The best part? It’s super budget friendly.
16. Shop at a Daiso
Looking for affordable shopping? It doesn’t get any cheaper than the Daiso. Known as the Japanese version of the dollar store, you can buy pretty much anything under the sun at the Daiso for only 100 yen a piece. Ladies, you can get a ton of Japanese make up or beauty products here for cheap. Meanwhile, men, you can purchase some trinkets or handy items for their travels.
17. Explore the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
Although it actually doesn’t contain much by way of Hyogo’s history, you can certainly dive into Japan’s history as a whole at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History. The museum features replicas of the country’s 12 original castles, Himeji Castle included, and also has a room dedicated to the various festivals held in the country. If you’re lucky, you could even assist and learn to dress someone in full samurai armor or a traditional 12 layer kimono.
- Name: Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
- Opening hour: 10:00 – 17:00
- Holiday: Closed Mondays
18. Explore the Japan Toy Museum
From rare toys to mass produced trinkets from your childhood days, the Japan Toy Museum has a cool collection of toys from various eras in history. There are over 80,000 toys and dolls stored at the museum and featured in rotating exhibits. Amazingly, the toys displayed here are from over 150 countries. Children are welcome to visit the touch and play corner where they can try old and new toys alike.
- Name: Japan Toy Museum
- Address: 671-3 Nakaniro, Kodera-cho, Himeji
- Price: ¥500 (Adult), ¥400 (Students), ¥200 (Child)
- Access: 15 minute walk from Koro Station
- Opening hour: 10:00 – 17:00
- Holiday: Closed on Wednesdays
19. Indulge in Baked Goods at the Himeji Castle Markets
In the shade of Himeji Castle, out in the grassy gardens, are regularly held weekend markets. These markets just so happen to be filled with some of the most delicious baked goods you’ll ever find in Himeji City. Scout around the entire market to find the treat that calls to you the most or let loose and try as many of them as you want. Besides, you’re on vacation. A few extra calories won’t count.
20. Buy A Traditional Wind Chime
On the hunt for the perfect Himeji souvenir? Go for a traditional Myochin Tong Wind Chime. Known for it’s clear yet subtle sound, these wind chimes are a traditional craft recognized by the prefectural authority. Interestingly, the chimes’ makers, the Myochin Family, were actually previously responsible for making armor for the feudal government of Himeji.
All in all, our top 20 picks of things to do in Himeji encapsulate what this town is all about. Relaxation, beauty and outstanding Japanese culture. Even if the town is generally not as popular compared to other tourist hotspots in Japan, take your time to explore this part of the country and discover all the hidden gems it has to offer.
Have a good trip and travel!