On Day Two of our Osaka-area trip, we headed down to Himeji Castle to tour Japan’s most famous castle of all. It’s one of the few that wasn’t destroyed in WWII or by natural disasters, and so it’s one of the only surviving examples that is not a reproduction (looking at you, Shurijo Castle).
We were visiting in August, and I was nine months pregnant, and it. was. hot.
Umbrella and paper fan hot. I don’t care how touristy it looked. (Pretty touristy.)
Wikipedia says Himeji Castle has six floors, but I remember it having eleventy-billion because I climbed them all. In the August heat. Nine months pregnant. And it seemed fine at the time but later that day I also decided we should maybe take it a little bit easier because I did not actually want my baby to be born two weeks early in Osaka instead of closer to home.
But I did it, and it was fine, and here’s the view from halfway up. Imagine what this must have been like with a bustling Japanese village surrounding it. Just incredible.
I’m almost positive this was against the rules.
Did I mention how I climbed all the way to the top? It was pretty steep too. (Pats self on back.)
The castle is often also referred to as ‘White Heron’ Castle because a) it’s poetic and b) the castle’s roof does make it look like it’s a bird in flight.
Himeji Castle is just a short walk from Himeji Station (20-30 minutes with kids), and it’s a fairly easy day trip to get there from either Osaka (1.5 hours) or Kyoto (1 hour). The surrounding town appears to be basically built up to support castle tourism – there were plenty of shops & restaurants lining the main street walk toward the castle, and several rickshaw drivers with the best legs in the East ready to run you down to the castle if you didn’t feel up to the walk.
You’ll also pass right by Kobe, so be sure to stop in and try the internationally renowned Kobe beef on your way home!