Himeji is a small city in Hyogo Prefecture and only 100km west of Osaka. And when you visit Himeji Castle from Osaka, you will visit one of Japan’s top three most beautiful original castles. Known as the White Heron Castle, Himeji Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Himeji’s biggest attraction.
In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to travel from Osaka to Himeji Castle and see the White Heron Castle in various ways. Plus, I included other unique things to do and local food specialities so you can maximize your time during your day trip to Himeji.
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Before you travel from Osaka to Himeji Castle
Before jumping on the Osaka to Himeji train, 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.
Here are a few additional travel tips that you may find useful for your Himeji Castle day trip:
- Start your Himeji itinerary around 9am so you can make the most of your day (many attractions close around 4 or 5pm).
- ICOCA is the prepaid IC card for Kansai Region. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportation, including bus, train, etc. You can use your IC card for the local train from Osaka to Himeji and when you take the bus to see Engyō-ji Temple in Mount Shosha.
- 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 locals speak English.
- Himeji is a safe city for solo travellers.
Osaka to Himeji Train: 3 Options
There are three options for travelling from Osaka to Himeji: JR Shinkansen (bullet train), JR local (rapid) train and Hanshin Railway.
For all the train options below, you can check Hyperdia for the schedule and cost.
Japan Railways: Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen
- Shin-Osaka Station to Himeji Station – 29 minutes, ¥1,520 ticket + ¥2,700 seat reservation (train fare covered by JR Pass except for Nozomi and Mizuho trains)
Japan Railways: Tokaido-Sanyo Rapid Line
- Osaka Station to Himeji Station – 62 minutes, ¥1,520 (covered by JR Pass)
Hanshin Electric Railway: Hanshin/Sanyo Through Ltd Exp.
- Osaka-Umeda Station (Hanshin) to Sanyohimeji Station – 93 minutes, ¥1,300
Map: Himeji Castle Day Trip itinerary
A visit to Himeji Castle is a must for any travellers going to quaint city. But there are many things to do besides seeing the beautiful white castle.
I put together a comprehensive one-day Himeji itinerary for anyone who wants to visit the charming town and see all the top Himeji attractions in one day.
All the top things to do in Himeji are pinned on the interactive map. Red numbered pins are all the must-see attractions on the day trip and the blue pins are other things to do in Himeji if you are staying longer or want to change up the itinerary.
Himeji Itinerary: Himeji Castle and Other Attractions
1 & 2. Walk to Himeji Castle via covered pedestrian walkway
Instead of walking up Otemae Street, the main road between Himeji Station and Himeji Castle, walk up Miyuki-dori or Pastel Omizo Shopping Street.
Both of these are covered pedestrian street are located east and parallel of Otemae Street. They are many shops and restaurants lining both streets. Plus, they are especially nice for shielding from the sun and rain.
3. Visit Himeji Castle
Weave through the premise of the castle and find the entrance to the Main Keep, a six-level castle with pristine white-plastered exterior walls that resembles a white heron in flight.
When you walk through the Main Keep, you can see the restored interiors and learn about the history of the castle. And at the top floor, there are small windows where you can peak out and see panoramic views of Himeji City.
Himeji Tourism is doing a great job promoting the city and Himeji 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.
Hours: 9am-6pm (April 27 – August 31) & 9am-5pm (Sept 1 – April 26) | Admission: ¥1,050 combination ticket for Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden. Or ¥1,000 for the castle only.
4. Wander around Koko-en Garden
Located southwest of Himeji Castle, there is a traditional Japanese garden called Koko-en Garden. It has nine Japanese gardens, 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. It takes one hour to see the garden thoroughly and the combination ticket for Himeji Castle includes the entry for Koko-en Garden.
Hours: 9am-6pm (April 27 – August 31) & 9am-5pm (Sept 1 – April 26)
5. Walk around Himeji Castle
Touring the inside of Himeji Castle is definitely a highlight of the day trip. But you should also check out the surrounding gardens. During spring time, the garden is one of the best places for viewing cherry blossoms.
When I visited the castle, I walked counterclockwise around the castle and saw some interesting things.
From the east, I saw a large defensive wall including the Taikakurou Tower. And as I followed the path to the north side of the castle, I saw the Himeji Castle outside of the exterior moat which is another beautiful view of the castle.
And near the northwest side of the castle premise, there is an old well called Sagi-no-shimizu Well slightly hidden from the low stone walls.
Perhaps there are more to see around the castle but these are some of the things I found as I strolled through the garden. And if you found any other interesting things, let me know in the comments below.
6. Hike up to Otokoyama Haisuiike Park and see Himeji Castle and the city
Keep walking west and soon you will reach the base of a set of long stairway. Climb 194 steps and you will reach the peak which is a small park called Otokoyama Haisuiike Park.
It is a small park but the view is totally worth hiking up a long set of stairs. And of course, you can see Himeji Castle from the park.
7. Try conger eel and raw egg at Tamagoya
Eating in Himeji is very affordable. Most food options are within walking distance and centrally located between Himeji Station and Himeji Castle.
For lunch, try conger eel, a local Himeji specialty, at Tamagoya.
I ordered the “Omotenashi” Gozen” set which includes raw eggs and rice, small dish of the day, miso soup, Japanese pickles, roasted conger eel Himeji style, and pudding.
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. Plus, you can ask for more rice if are super hungry.
8. Snap a photo of Himeji Castle from the viewing deck
Above Himeji Station, there is a viewing deck where you can see directly at Himeji Castle.
At first I didn’t want to visit the observation deck because I wasn’t sure what the view would be like especially when the viewing deck is not too high. But I was pleasantly surprised.
So drop by the viewing deck and see for yourself. It only takes an extra minute away from your itinerary.
9. Take the bus to Mount Shosha and ride the Shoshazan Ropeway
Himeji Castle is definitely the highlight of Himeji. But the temple complex called Engyoji Temple, hidden away in Mount Shosha, is pretty impressive as well. And I highly recommend going (and also because you have the entire afternoon free in Himeji).
To get there, take bus #8 at bus stop 10 at the Shinki Bus Himeji Station Bus Terminal (between Himeji Station and Sanyo-Himeji Station). The bus ride is about 30 minutes and costs ¥280 each way. Use your IC card or pay cash.
At the base of Mount Shosha, buy a return ticket for the Shoshazan Ropeway for ¥1,000, unless you want to hike up and back down.
Alternatively, you can buy a “Mt Shosha Ropeway Package Ticket” for ¥1,420 at the Shinki Bus Info Centre (near bus stop 10). The combination ticket includes a roundtrip bus ride and the roundtrip ropeway ride.
10. Wander around Shoshazan Engyoji Temple
Engyoji Temple is a group of temples was founded about 1,000 years ago by a holy Buddhist priest. Legend has it that anyone who climbs this mountain will be purified spiritually.
Once you are at the top, walk towards Niomon Gate, which is the entrance. Not far away is Maniden, a wooden temple with a grand balcony and other temples that are collectively part of the Engyoji Temple complex.
Mount Shosha is an excellent spot for cherry blossom in spring and also fall foliage in autumn. And it was the location for the film, The Last Samurai. Perhaps you can recognize some places from the movie?
Hours: 8:30am-6pm (Spring to Fall) and 8:30am-5pm (Winter) | Admission: ￥500
11. Take a look at Himeji Castle in the late afternoon
After the short hike in Mount Shosha, take bus #8 back to Himeji.
And if you cannot get enough of Himeji Castle, drop by the castle again after visiting Mount Shosha. The castle is particularly beautiful after the sun is down and when the lights shine on the building itself. Even though the castle is closed, you can still take many fantastic photos from afar.
12 or 13. Have Himeji oden stew for dinner
Another local specialty you should try is the Himeji oden stew. Oden is Japanese one-pot dish made with daikon radish, konjac jelly, eggs, fishcakes, etc. Usually, mustard is used as a condiment but in Himeji, it is dipped in ginger soy sauce.
I had oden at Nadagiku Kappa, an oden restaurant has been around since 1910. They offer a Nadagiku specialty, which is oden with a white sauce that is made with sake lees, the sweet solids that remain after sake brewing. They also have a black sauce which is soy sauce flavoured with ginger, which is the Himeji special. Both are excellent.
Or try oden at at Himeji Oden and Kushikatsu Shop in the alley full of izayaka restaurants. It is a bit more touristy but you can also try oden and Kushikatsu (skewered, deep-fried food, a popular food in Osaka) at the same time.
14. Take the train back from Himeji to Osaka
After a full day of exploring Himeji Castle and all the attractions in the city, it is time to return to Osaka.
Note the time for the last train before you start your itinerary so there won’t be any surprises at the end of the day. The last JR Shinkansen is at 11:08pm. The last JR Tokaido-Sanyo Line train is 10:56pm. And the last Hanshin Train is 10:23pm.
Other things to do besides visiting Himeji Castle
While Himeji Castle is definitely the highlight of the city, there are other things you can do and see around the city. If you want to switch up the itinerary or stay an extra day, there are a few interesting museums in the centre of the city:
- Himeji City Museum of Art (10am-5pm; closed Mondays; ¥210) – the small museum that has artwork in painting, sculptures and other arts and crafts. The majority of the exhibit is composed of French artists like Monet and Matisse and has artwork by Japanese artists.
- Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History (10am-5pm; closed Mondays; ¥200) – learn about the local history and the culture of Hyogo Prefecture and Himeji Castle through this one-of-a-kind museum.
- Himeji City Museum of Literature (10am-5pm; closed Mondays; ¥310) – celebrates literary figures associated with Himeji. But if you don’t have enought time, pop over to the museum and simply admire the building; a modern masterpiece designed by Tadao Ando, a well-known Japanese architect.
Where to stay in Himeji as a solo traveller
Most people will take a day trip to Himeji and return to Osaka.
But if you like the vibes of a small town, Himeji City is an excellent place to stay overnight. Accommodations in Himeji are inexpensive and the majority of hostels and hotels are in walking distance to Himeji Station. Booking ahead is encouraged but not necessary.
I stayed at both of these accommodations over two trips to Himeji and highly recommend both:
- ONE Hostel Himeji ($) – cheap and cheerful mixed and all-female dorms available. The casual hostel is located off the shopping street. The best part about the hostel is the friendly hosts. Check Agoda for prices & reviews.
- Richmond Hotel Himeji ($$) – simple and modern single room with a private bathroom. The hotel is located just south of Himeji Station. Check Agoda for prices & reviews.
Is it worth travelling to Himeji Castle from Osaka?
Absolutely! I think Himeji is a wonderful city as a day trip from Osaka. Himeji Castle is one of the best castles I’ve ever seen and the city itself is quite compact and neat to see.
Moreover, a day trip to Himeji from Osaka is super easy because of the efficient train systems. You could get into Himeji in less than half an hour!
Without a doubt, Himeji has a special place in my heart and has made my solo trip to Japan quite memorable. This is why I put together a one-day Himeji itinerary so you can experience the joy as well.
I hope you find my Himeji travel guide useful. If you have any other questions, leave a comment below.
Thank you for reading my Himeji day trip itinerary
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:
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- Japanese Food Culture: 11 must-try food
- One month in Japan: from Tokyo to Hiroshima
- Kyoto 2-day itinerary
- Uji day trip from Kyoto
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- Where and What to Eat in Osaka, Japan
- Osaka to Kobe day trip: 1-day itinerary
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