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The Ultimate Himeji Day Trip from Osaka, Japan

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A lot of visitors travelling to Osaka, Japan will include a day trip to Himeji to see Himeji Castle. And it is quite easy to see Himeji Castle from Osaka as a side trip because of the efficient train system.

While visiting Himeji Castle is the highlight of the day tour, you should also visit other Himeji attractions like Koko-en Garden, Shoshazan Engyō-ji Temple and a couple of art museums in the city.

With half a million inhabitants, Himeji City is one of the friendliest cities in Japan. I met friendly people who will go out of their way to make me feel welcome even though we do not speak the same language. Without a doubt, Himeji has a special place in my heart and has made my solo trip to Japan quite memorable.

Keep reading my Himeji travel blog and learn how you can have the best Himeji day trip too!

What you need to know before visiting Himeji

Before you visit Himeji, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of tips on how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Are are additional travel tips that you may find useful for travelling to Himeji:

  • Walking is the best way to see most of the attractions in Himeji
  • ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Kansai Region. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation including bus, train and etc. If you take the local train, you can use the IC Card.
  • If you don’t have a SIM card or pocket wifi, Himeji has free wifi all over town.
  • Lots of English signs around tourist attractions. And many people speak English.
  • Safe city for solo travellers

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How to travel from Osaka to Himeji

Visiting Himeji from Osaka is super easy. Himeji is a small city in Hyogo Prefecture, only 100km west of Osaka. If you take the Shinkansen, you can be in Himeji in just half an hour.

And if you are travelling from other cities in the Kansai Region including Kyoto or Kobe, the efficient train system can take you into Himeji in less than an hour.

For all the train options below, you can check Hyperdia for schedule and cost.

And if you are travelling extensively in Kansai Region, consider getting a Kansai Area Pass for unlimited travel within the valid area.

From Osaka to Himeji

The fastest way to travel from Osaka to Himeji is by Shinkansen. Or you can choose the cheaper option by taking the regular train. Try to be in Himeji before 9:00 am.

  • Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen
    • Shin-Osaka Station to Himeji Station
    • Time: 30 minutes
    • Cost: about ¥3,740 (covered by Japan Rail Pass, except for Nozomi train)
  • Tokaido-Sanyo Rapid Line 
    • Shin-Osaka Station to Himeji Station
    • Time: 1 hour 8 minutes
    • Cost: ¥1,470 (covered by Japan Rail Pass)

Where to stay in Himeji

Most people will visit Himeji as a day trip. But I definitely think it is worth staying overnight to see the castle during the evening and experience Himeji at night.

The hostels and hotels that are near Himeji Station are the most economical options. As a solo female traveller, it is easy to get a dorm bed or a single room in Himeji. And the options are pretty good and inexpensive. Booking ahead is encouraged but not necessary.

  • ONE Hostel & Standing Bar ($) – they have cheap and cheerful mixed and all-female dorms available. Close to Himeji Station. The best part about the hostel is the friendly hosts.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Richmond Hotel Himeji ($$) – simple and modern single room including your own private bathroom. The hotel is located just south of Himeji Station.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Natural Hot Spring Dormy Inn Himeji ($$) – a popular chain hotel in Japan that offers a simple single room for a low cost. Enjoy the traditional Japanese onsen (hot spring) after a long day wandering around Himeji. One of the best Himeji Hotels and is just south of Himeji Station.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Via Inn Himeji ($$) – The single room is clean and compact and has everything you need for a short stay. The price comes with breakfast. Located just south of Himeji Station.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Setre Highland Villa Himeji ($$$) – if you want to splurge on a fantastic hotel, this might be a good choice. They have contemporary rooms and traditional Japanese communal bathrooms. It is away from the central area and high in the mountain, but it has a gorgeous view of Himeji from above.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

Things to do in Himeji, Japan

Most people will wonder what there is to do in Himeji other than visiting the Himeji Castle. There are so many other attractions including a gorgeous Japanese garden and zen temples hidden away in the mountains. And not to mention all the art museums scattered around the city.

See the map below for more information for each attraction. All the top things to do in Himeji are pinned in the interactive map. You can click on each pin to get more info.

Himeji Castle

When you visit Himeji Castle as a day trip, you will visit one of the top three most beautiful original castles in Japan. Known as the White Heron Castle, the main keep is a six-level castle with pristine white-plastered exterior walls that resembles a white heron in flight.

The castle was damaged during World War II and natural disasters like typhoons and earthquakes in recent history. It went through many restorations including the most recent restoration between 2009 and 2015 where part of the repair include the main keep’s roof, re-plastering the exterior walls, and reinforcement to some of the structural pillars.

Today, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the biggest attraction in Himeji. You can learn about the history of the castle at the museum and take in the panoramic view of Himeji City from the top floor of the main keep. Furthermore, the beautiful garden surrounding the garden is one of the best places for viewing cherry blossom during spring.

Himeji tourism is doing a great job of promoting Himeji city and all of its attractions. For Himeji Castle, there is an app you can download where you can listen to the audio guide on your smartphone for free. Just scan the code on site and listen to the informative guide.

Koko-en Garden

Located right next to Himeji Castle, Koko-en Garden is composed of nine traditional Japanese gardens connected, along with a small beautiful pond and an onsite restaurant. The atmosphere is peaceful (especially if you just visited Himeji Castle on a busy day!). Follow the path at the entrance and let it take you on a journey through one of the best gardens in Hyogo Prefecture.

And if you are planning on seeing Koko-en Garden and Himeji Castle, you can purchase a combination ticket for both for ¥1,040 at Himeji Castle.

Shoshazan Engyō-ji Temple

A group of temples called Engyō-ji Temple is hidden away in Mount Shosha just 20 minutes north of Himeji Castle. There are eight buildings on the premise. Maniden is the main building where it was constructed in A.D. 970 and is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy.

Engyō-ji Temple is quite extraordinary. Founded about 1000 years ago by a holy Buddhist priest who was guided by Monju, the God of Wisdom and Intellect. Legend has it that anyone who climbs this mountain will be purified spiritually. To this day, many people still make the pilgrimage to Mount Shosha and Engyō-ji Temple. Furthermore, Engyō-ji Temple is the 27th temple on the Saigon Kannon pilgrimage and one of the most famous temples to visit in Western Japan.

Aside from the history, the forest surrounding Engyō-ji Temple has a peaceful atmosphere and zen-like feel. It is an excellent spot for cherry blossom in spring and also fall foliage in autumn.

The best way to get to Mount Shosha is by bus. Take bus #8 at bus stop #10 just outside of Himeji Station. It costs ¥270 each way. You can use your IC card or pay cash. At the base of Mount Shosha, buy a return ticket for the ropeway for ¥1,000, unless you want to hike up and back down.

Alternatively, you can buy a “Shoshazan Ropeway” combination ticket for ¥1,400 at the bus station close to bus stop #10. The combination ticket includes a roundtrip bus ride and the roundtrip ropeway ride.

Himeji City Museum of Art

The museum has over 3700 pieces of artwork in the forms of painting, sculptures and other arts and crafts. The majority of the exhibit is composed of French artists like Monet and Matisse. And the museum has artwork by Japanese artists, of course. You really can’t go wrong with paying just ¥200 for such a large exhibit.

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History

The one-of-a-kind museum where it has exhibits displaying history and culture of Hyogo Prefecture and Himeji Castle. Not only do you learn more about the Hyogo Prefecture, but you can also experience the museum itself which was designed by Kenzō Tange, a Japanese architect and a winner of the Pritzker Prize for architecture. Kenzō Tange designed a lot of modern architecture post World War II and won the competition for the design for Hiroshima Peace Centre and Memorial Park. So even if you do not go into the museum, you can still admire the building from afar.

Himeji City Museum of Literature

The museum uses different visuals to display works of literature to make the exhibit interesting for visitors.

Aside from the exhibits, the building itself is a masterpiece. Designed by Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect who also won a Pritzker Prize award, the building embodies Ando’s design trademark where simplicity in design and spatial relationships are both emphasized.

Even if you don’t have time to visit the museum, you should see the building. The building itself is a piece of art. Tado Ando’s work can be seen in other parts of Japan including a few notable buildings like the Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima Island.

Where to eat in Himeji

In terms of food, Himeji is known for conger eel and oden (Japanese one-pot dish made with eggs, daikon radish, fishcakes, etc.).

And for those of you who are budget conscious, eating in Himeji will not break the bank. Most options are very affordable. And most of all, most food options are in walkable distances and centrally located between Himeji Station and Himeji Castle.

Also, eating solo is very common, just like travelling solo in Japan. Many Himeji restaurants have bar seats where many patrons dine alone.

Below are some budget, mid-range restaurant suggestions and other food options. You can find more information about each location in the attached google map by clicking on the individual pin (see interactive map above).

 

  • Menme ($) – a popular udon restaurant; try the Menme udon (udon with raw egg, dried bonito, sesame seeds), Kamaage udon (hot udon noodles) or Kitsune udon (udon with sliced and deep-fried tofu)
  • Nadagiku Kappa ($) – the oden restaurant has been around since 1910. Give this restaurant a try because of its delicious oden and retro interior.  I had tofu, daikon radish, fish paste and beef tendon. Enjoy this Himeji specialty along with a glass of sake!
  • Tamagoya ($) – people queue up for this delicious Himeji specialty, conger eel and egg with rice. You crack the egg in your rice, so the rice cooks the egg. But don’t worry, even if the egg is not cooked thoroughly, you can still eat it. Eating raw egg in Japan is safe.
  • Kassuiken ($$) – located in Koko-en Garden, you can get a set lunch in pretty bento boxes while enjoying the peaceful scenery of the garden.
  • Sanyo Department Store($) – the basement level of the Japanese department store has a grocery store and prepared food sections.
Himeji Castle in late afternoon

One Day Himeji Itinerary

Whether you are going to Himeji for the day or staying for a few days or weeks, follow my recommended Himeji itinerary, and you will see all the best attractions in Himeji. So make sure to add Himeji to your Japan travel itinerary!

The ultimate Himeji day trip itinerary

Take advantage of your entire day in Himeji by waking up early and travel to Himeji early in the morning.

In the morning:

  • Travel from Osaka to Himeji by hopping on the Shinkansen (bullet train) and aim to be in Himeji before 9:00 am
  • Once you arrive at Himeji Station, walk up Otemae-dori (the main street from the train station to the castle) to visit Himeji Castle. The castle opens its doors at 9:00 am. You won’t miss it! You can literally see the castle from the train station.
  • Walk over to Koko-en Garden to see the beautiful Edo Period gardens.
  • You should be famished by now! Have lunch at Tamagoya which is just across the street from Himeji Castle. Try a local specialty of conger eel with egg and rice.

In the afternoon:

  • If you are in the museum-mood, go to either Himeji City Museum of Art, Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History or Himeji City Museum of Literature.
  • The easiest way to get to Engyō-ji Temple is to walk back to the train station to catch bus #8 at the bus terminal. The bus will take you directly to the base of Mount Shosha where you take the ropeway to the top.
  • Explore Mount Shosha on foot. Wear comfortable hiking shoes! Parts of the trail is pretty steep. The park will even lend you a hiking stick (located at the entrance as soon as you leave the ropeway). Follow the map and trails and discover all the temples in the forest.
  • After exploring Mount Shosha, take the ropeway back down and catch the same bus back to the bus terminal.
  • Walk over to Nadagiku Kappa and enjoy delicious oden and sake to end a fantastic day in Himeji.
  • Then make your way back home by taking the Shinkansen back to Osaka.

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

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