We have shared an entire travel vlog guide which you can watch below on you can spend a full day in Himeji visiting Himeji Castle, Engyo-ji Temple, which restaurant to visit in Himeji to eat delicious sushi, and also which hotel to stay at in Himeji. It is possible to do a day trip to Himeji from Kyoto or Osaka, and even Tokyo.
We have release our Japan vlogs on our Youtube Channel, watch as we leave Kyoto by train and arrive to visit Himeji castle, Engyo-ji temple and find the best sushi in town!
In this travel vlog we cover:
How to get to Himeji from Kyoto by train
Which hotel to stay at in Himeji - if not returning to Kyoto
How to get to Himeji Castle and how much it costs
How to get to Engyo-ji temple
What restaurant to visit for good and cheap sushi in Himeji
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How to get to Himeji
Using JR pass: The quickest way to get from Kyoto to Himeji is using the bullet train service Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen. Get on at Kyoto Station and arrive in Himeji station within 50 minutes. Cost: ¥5,370 or use your JR pass.
JR Special Rapid Train: Local trains take 90 minutes and is a cheaper option if not using a JR pass.
Using JR pass: The quickest option is to get on at Shin-Osaka by the Sakura, Hikari or Kodama train options. Use your JR pass for this journey, it will take between 30-40 minutes.
JR Special Rapid Train: Local train take around 60-90 minutes and will be the cheaper option if not using a JR pass.
It is possible to do a journey from Tokyo. however it will involve very long transit times. The Hikari Shinkansen connects Tokyo with Himeji and will take roughly 8 hours (return journey)
Where to stay in Himeji
If you will not be returning to Kyoto or Osaka, we recommend staying at Hotel Nikko Himeji, the location is perfect as it is right next to Himeji train station only a minute's walk away. It is a huge hotel with plenty of rooms, the rooms themselves were very comfortable and the price is excellent by Japan standards starting at only $55 / £45.
How to get to Himeji castle and how much does it cost
Himeji castle is very easy to reach once you have arrived to Himeji station! Once you come out of the exit, it is there in the distance. It will take 20 minutes to walk down Otemae-dori Street and reach the castle, or if you're not upto walking you can take the local bus ($1 USD) from the station which will take you there. The other option is jumping in a taxi which will take only 5 minutes (from $7 USD).
The Himeji castle is known as a National Treasure of Japan and is also called the 'White Heron Castle' for its white exterior and appearance of a bird taking flight. The Himeji castle was one of the very few buildings that managed to survive the World War II bombings and was named one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sights in Japan. It is made up of 80 building and recently underwent a renovation (2015).
If you are lucky to visit during Cherry blossom season (late March / early April), you will be treated to beautiful sights of the trees within the grounds. Enter the castle via Otemon Gate. Unfortunately during our visit the Coronavirus caused the main keep to be closed, but in usual periods you are able to enter the castle to visit inside. You can spend as little as an hour here or as long as 5 hours! There is a lot to see, we spent around 3 hours wandering around the grounds.
Adults: ¥1,000 (1,050 inc. kokoen gardens)
Daily 9 am to 5 pm
During the summer (April 27 – August 31): 9 am to 6 pm
How to get to Engyo-ji temple
Conveniently you can hop on a bus from Himeji Castle that will take you straight to Engyo-ji Temple. This is the famous temple used for some scenes during filming of Hollywood hit film The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise. We took a taxi from Himeji castle which took around 20 minutes drive. The bus will take approximately 30 minutes.
Unfortunately we were not in luck and were not able to reach the Engyo-Ji temple during our visit due to the coronavirus closures of the Ropeway (cable car). The temple sits high up in the mountain only accessible easily by rope-way. The rope-way was closed and unfortunately there was not enough daylight to start the 60 minute walk up the mountain!
The temple has a history of over 1,000 years and has been used a number of times in historical movies.
Which restaurant to visit in Himeji
With an abundance to choose from, it's hard to know where to go! We decided to have our very first sushi train experience at 'Rikimaru' sushi restaurant, right next to the Himeji train station. The food was delicious, extremely fresh sushi and at a very decent price. An example of price; 2 pieces of shrimp sushi ¥300-400, 2 pieces of sushi roll ¥200-400, glass of beer ¥500, our total bill came to ¥4,000 and we had dessert (vanilla ice cream a must!) // $40 / £32 for two people!