Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Price: 1000 yen
Parking: Paid parking available in front of the castle
World heritage: Yes
Are dogs allowed?
From outside the castle is white, pure and majestic. The most beautiful castle I have seen in Japan and I couldn’t wait to see it from the inside.
Inside was empty.
I expected to find all the comforts and luxuries of a castle, I don’t know, I expected to see a throne for the king or whatever. I expected to see banquet halls and ballrooms but there was none of that. There was no luxury whatsoever. From the outside Himeji castle looks all white and peaceful but it’s a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. This is a castle of war.
It was not meant to be lived in but rather it was built for the purpose of war, so you won’t see any of the usual places you expect for in a comfortable living space, nope. Instead you will see secret rooms built so that the soldiers or samurais (or whatever they are called that fought in those times) can hide and surprise attack their enemies in case they breach the castle. You will find windows specifically designed for archers to attack, and then windows specifically designed to throw rocks at the enemy. Also, there are entire rooms for storing weapons with special walls made to have weapons easily accessible at all times.
Even though from the outside the castle is bright and shining on the inside it’s dark and with an obscure aura.
It’s a really popular place and therefore full of visitors. There are 6 floors in the castle and at all times every floor was full of people.
It’s so huge on the inside though, and to see it all we spent about one hour but that’s only on the inside of the castle. Outside there’s the dormitories for the servants of the castle and a Japanese garden. However, we had our cutest Whiskey waiting for us in the camper van so we had to hurry and skipped the garden. Still we spent over 2 hours looking around.
And like all castles worth their salt of course there have to be legends and a standard ghost story somewhere. And Himeji castles ghost story happens in one of the castles water sources which is now called “Okiku well”.
I will sum up the story as far as I understand it. The story goes that there was once a girl named Okiku who was a servant of someone called Aoyama. This Aoyama along with a man called Danshiro were plotting to kill Norimoto and take over the castle. However, Okiku warned Norimoto and he escaped.
As a punishment for the betrayal Aoyama, who had now taken over the castle, forced Okiku to marry Danshiro but she rejected him. With his pride hurt Danshiro decided to hide one of 10 plates that were treasured possessions of the Aoyama family and framed Okiku for the crime.
As a punishment Okiku was killed and her body thrown in a well, and ever since then the voice of Okiku’s ghost could be heard counting the plates from the bottom of the well.
Omg!! Is that her in this picture!?