Barely an hour from Kyoto, Himeji was an easy day trip from the historic capital. The city’s pride, Himeji Castle, had a commandeering presence even from the train that passengers were attracted to take photos even from their seats. On this day we were destined to explore the castle’s interior, an opportunity we didn’t get to experience a few years back. While the scaffolding had all been taken off then, we were still a few days shy of the interior’s opening. We were able to walk on the grounds though and take a quick snap of the iconic structure.
The tall, white castle was still magnificent years later. Even though I’d seen it before, there was still magic in seeing it again. The towering gates past the moat and the vast grounds were all part of its greatness.
One lesson I learned from our initial visit was the photo spot right after the first castle gate. After seeing the structure within the castle gates, follow the ascending path on your left-hand side where you would be welcomed in a small garden. From here, you could see the castle at an angle, a different perspective from the usual flat vista when looking at it from the front. Since we had the entire place for ourselves, we took the time admiring the view and taking many wonderful photos.
By the time we got back on track on visiting the main keep, we met a group of Filipinos who were on their way back. They informed us that it was pretty exhausting climbing its interior, but well worth a visit. The very high walls of stone surrounding the castle were a marvel of their own. The uphill slopes toward the castle, though mild, were a bit challenging for my folks that we opted to take a few stops here and there to catch some breath. Finally, we got to the main keep’s entrance, where we had to remove our shoes and had to place them in a plastic bag.
The castle’s interior structure was mainly made of wood. Most levels were quite low in height, and there was little to remember when it came to differences among the levels. One striking attribute was the large pillar showcased in one of the storeys, which was one of the main pillars for the entire castle. It’s no wonder that its circumference was so big, considering that it supported the stability of the main keep.
There were two things that I enjoyed while visiting this castle. First, I was thrilled with climbing the steep ladders to get from one level to the next. The steps were quite narrow, but I totally felt safe. The only annoying part was the bag of shoes we had to deal with while going up the stairs, as it left one less free hand. The other fun part was the views from the topmost level of the main keep. It was quite amazing to see a modern city in place of an old, historic town.
Before exiting the main keep, a scaled model of the entire complex was showcased.
We left Himeji content with what we saw, and moved on to visit another city, Osaka. More on this next time. Happy (virtual) travels!