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Cherry Blossom @ Himeji Castle

Himeji Travel Blog

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Dreams come true. Over the years, on business trip, I frequented the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’  with  hope that it would coincide with this spectacular season. It never materialized as I was there either at the very early stage or after the petals dropped for good. But in April 2009, lucky strikes me, I was fortunate enough to be in Japan during the peak season of Cherry (Sakura) Blossoms ��" National Flower of Japan. Several locations to view Sakura flooded my mind ��" either in Osaka , Kobe, Kyoto or Nara. All of these places are unique on its own showcasing its pure Japanese arts and culture. However I recalled my previous trip to Hiroshima, sat inside the Shinkansen (Bullet train) heading west from Osaka, the Train passed by several cities and quaint little villages.

Suddenly while gazing through the  window something interesting caught my eyes, I saw from a distance an interesting monument white in color perched on a hill. As we get closer, it becomes clearer that it is an ancient castle, stunning architecture & larger than Osaka Castle. Later, I searched from the internet and found that it is called ‘Himeji Castle’ located in Hyogo Prefecture at the edge of Kansai region. With over 1000 sakura trees on the grounds, it is known as a very popular spot in Japan for viewing. I made up my mind, purchased a 1 day JR-West Rail Pass for Kansai area for 2000yen at the Kansai  Airport JR office and with a change of train at Shin-Osaka headed to Himeji.

It is very much cheaper for foreigner to travel in Kansai area with this Pass as it allows unlimited travel in the limited express ‘Haruka’ and ordinary cars of West Japan Railway Company lines within Osaka-Kyoto-Nara-Kobe Area.

Himeji Castle  is well-known as ‘Shirasagijo’ or the White Heron Castle because of resemblance to a heron in its tall and white elegance. It was originally constructed in the mid 14th Century by a powerful clan and later enlarged by successive lords to its present form. It is registered as the first Japanese National Cultural Treasure by Unesco World Heritage Site.

Picnic time
Buildings and gardens of Himeji Castle are very elegant and graceful.Strolling around the park with Sakura blooming to its best is something I'll never forget. Everywhere I turn I can see myriad of white and pink color. Most importantly happy faces of the visitor and local alike. They have a kind of tradition so called 'Hanami' where they will gather and sit beneath the Sakura trees during daytime or at night. Its kind of a picnic outing for families and friends, to get together to enjoy the beauty of Sakura and having good times. Himeji Castle consists of several floors made of wood and I just followed flow of the crowd. We have to remove our shoes put it in a plastic bag  and wear provided sandals while inside the castle. Some of the staircase are very steep with low ceiling level  and for 6 footer it would be quite a challenge. Inside there were some exhibition on the history of rulers, constructions details, drawings, costumes, weapons and others. Nice view from the upper level of the castle, I saw Himeji city and oceans of Sakura. Surrounding the castle there are several pretty Japanese gardens which are worth a visit as you can get to see the castle from a different angle of views. 

RH122 says:
Thanks a lot Melissa
Posted on: Dec 06, 2009
melissawong says:
Oh the view is so lovely! Good job razak! :p
Posted on: Nov 29, 2009
RH122 says:
Thank you Sarah!
I love the atmosphere during Cherry Blossom. Family & friends get together with nice view and full of happiness.

Thanks Stephen!
Japan is an amazing country, its a MUST visit country.U'll never get enough of it. Keep exploring.. :)
Posted on: Aug 09, 2009
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Picnic time
Picnic time
Look at the crowd!
Look at the crowd!
Pink type
Pink type
Entrance ticket machine
Entrance ticket machine
Hishi-no-mon Gate
Hishi-no-mon Gate
Inside the castle
Inside the castle
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Himeji
photo by: tj1777