I did not spend a lot of time in Himeji.  But I had to take a quick side trip there to see Japan’s first UNESCO sight, the iconic Himeji Castle.

Named the White Heron castle, it has been recently renovated and is stunning from the outside.

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The castle dates from 1346 and has never been destroyed by war, fire, earthquake (or other man-made or natural disaster) and is one of Japan’s 12 original castles.  The castle was recently restored and represents the castle as it looked in the early 17th century.  The castle is six floors and has truly beautiful woodwork inside.  However, I was not prepared for the castle to be mostly empty.

While the castle often has long wait times, it was mostly empty when we arrived shortly before closing time.  While I wouldn’t make a special trip from Tokyo, Himeji is an easy 30 minute train ride from Osaka and 45 minutes from Kyoto.  If you have more than a couple of days in Kyoto, I think it is definitely worth a half day side trip.

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