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Travel Guide Asia Japan Honshu Kansai Himeji

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Introduction

HC - the Castle

HC - the Castle

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Himeji is a city of approximately 500,000 inhabitants located an hour west of Osaka. The highlight of Himeji is Himeji castle, the most outstanding castle still standing in Japan.

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Sights and Activities

The highlight of Himeji is Himeji castle, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Most tourists come to Himeji to view the castle as a day trip from Osaka, Kobe or Kyoto

Other popular sights in Himeji are:

  • Hyogo prefectural museum of history displays information on Himeji castle and other castles in Japan. It also has shows information on the main periods of Japan history.
  • Shoshazan Engyoi Temple complex built in 966 and is one of the filming locations of The Last Samurai. [1]
  • Himeji city zoo, located near Himeji castle where you can see elephants, giraffes or spend some time at the petting zoo.

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Events and Festivals

Traditional Festivals

Japan has countless traditional festivals and holidays. Then when you add the local festivals that number just grows and grows. Here is a list of the few major national traditional festivals.

  • Japanese New Year (January 1) - the most important holiday in Japan. Although there are lots of customs and traditions most of them are done in the private. This is mainly a family holiday and Japan can feel very empty as almost everyone goes home. Travelling in Japan in during this time is difficult because everything is shut down.
  • Seijin No Hi (2nd Monday of January) - the coming of age holiday for Japanese women which 20. Traditionally families will buy any young woman how turned 20 in the last year a kimono. On this day almost all Japanese women will ear a kimono.
  • Hin Festival (March 3) - Also known as doll festival the Hin Matsuri festival is meant for young women. In early february families with daughters put dolls in order to make the women happy and healthy later in life. On Girls Day, on March 3, the dolls are put away until next year.
  • Shichi Go San Festival (Novermber 5) - Boys who are 3 and 5, and girls 3 and 7 are taken to a shinto shrine in traditional Japanese dress. The children are brought there to pray for good luck, good health and wealth.

National Holidays

  • Golden Week - Is quite often referred to as the "Japanese Spring Break." It is a combination of many state holidays, including Showa Day, Greenery Day, Children's Day, and Constitution Memorial Day in order to give a full week off. It takes place during the first full week of May. Everyone gets this week off in Japan so it is very bad time to travel because everything is crowded, expensive and most hotels will be full. There is also a major festival in the southern city of Fukuoka this week, it is called Hakata Dontaku.

Local Festivals

  • Hanami is a traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. Himeji castle is home to many cherry blossom trees which makes it a very popular place for Japanese people to view cherry blossoms. Arrive early to find a comfortable spot to eat, drink and relax.
  • Zenkoku Tako Age Matsuri, the national kite-flying festival, is held on January 18th in the Himeji park racetrack. People from all over Japan come to fly traditional and homemade kites.

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Weather

Himeji has similar weather to most parts of Japan. Expect very high temperatures and humidity in the summer months from June to September and cool weather in winter months from December to February.

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Getting There

By Plane

Kansai International Airport is the nearest international airport, about 2 hours away from Himeji.

By Train

From the Kansai area, the easiest way to get to Himeji is to take the JR line.

  • From Osaka: Take the Special rapid (Shinkaisoku) on the Tokaido San yo line from Osaka station to Himeji station. It takes 61 minutes and costs 1,450 yen.
  • From Kobe: Take the Special rapid (Shinkaisoku) on the Tokaido San yo line from Sannomiya station to Himeji station. It takes 39 minutes and costs 950 yen.
  • From Kyoto: Take the Special rapid (Shinkaisoku) on the Tokaido San yo line from Kyoto station to Himeji station. It takes 91 minutes and costs 2,210 yen.

If you have a JR pass Himeji station is a stop on the Shinkansen, bullet train.
Check the Japan Rail website for more information about schedules and prices.

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Sleep

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Himeji Guest House Engakudou8-2yanagi machiHOSTEL83
Hotel Wing International Himeji132 Wata-machi Himeji-shi Hyogo-kenHOTEL-
Himeji 588 Guesthouse68 Honmachi, HimejishiHOSTEL84

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Learn

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Keep Connected

Internet

Manga cafes are dotted along the streets of almost every city in Japan. For a very reasonable price (about ¥100 per 15 minutes), you receive a private cubicle with a PC with internet access at blistering Japanese internet speeds. The chairs are incredibly comfortable (making them an excellent place to sleep for the cash-deprived), and you can even order snacks and drinks from the staff.

A number of business hotels have Internet access available if you have your own device, sometimes for free. It is also possible to find Wi-Fi "hot spots" around many large cities in Japan, especially near tech-related businesses and large corporate buildings with unsecured wireless networks. 3G Wireless Data and Pocket Wifi are other options.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Payphones (公衆電話 kōshū denwa) are easily found, particularly near train stations, although with the popularity of mobile phones, public pay phones are not quite as numerous as they once were. Gray and green pay phones accept ¥10 and ¥100 coins and prepaid cards. Be aware that not all places with public telephones have phones that accept coins, so it may be worthwhile to buy a phone card for emergency use. Some of the gray phones, as indicated on the display, can make international calls. Pre-paid cards can be purchased at convenience stores, train station kiosk stores and sometimes in vending machines next to the phone.

Modern Japanese mobile phones (携帯電話 keitai denwa or just keitai) tend to operate on unique cellular standards not always compatible with the rest of the world. 3G phones using the UMTS/WCDMA2100 standard and equipped with a 3G SIM card will most likely work. If your phone is up to spec, double-check with your carrier if they have a roaming agreement with either SoftBank or NTT DoCoMo. Coverage is generally excellent, unless you are heading to some remote mountainous areas. If you have no 3G phone but still have a 3G-compatible SIM card, you can rent a 3G phone in Japan and slot in your card, allowing you to keep your home phone number in Japan. For a longer trip, you can also purchase a phone, but doing this legally requires an Alien Registration Card (or an obliging Japanese friend willing to front for you).

The easier way is to get a prepaid phone. Prepaid phones are sold in most SoftBank and AU stores. If you already have a 3G phone, go with Softbank as it can sell SIMs as opposed to au whose prepaid service is phone-based like most CDMA carriers. Prepaid phones use a "card" with a pass key to "charge" a phone with minutes. These prepaid calling cards, unlike the phone itself, can be found in most convenience stores. A prepaid cell phone is available for as little as ¥5000 plus ¥3000 for a 60-90 day call time package, which will get drained at a rate of ¥100 per minute (¥10 per 6 seconds for AU's prepaid service). Both SoftBank and AU offer prepaid phones.

Post

The Japanese postal service is excellent! Domestic and international mail service is very quick and reliable. The prices for sending letters, postcards and parcels vary depending on where you send if from and to which country you send it too, and of course depends on weight as well, so check this calculation page of Japan Post for more details. Post offices generally are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays, closing at weekends and also on national holidays, though a few open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 3:00pm. Central post offices are sometimes open until 7:00pm, open on Saturdays from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Sundays and holidays from 9:00am to 12:30pm. There are post offices in every major city and minor town. Another thing to remember is that the post office is one of the few places in Japan that is guaranteed to have ATMs that take international cards.

References

  1. 1 http://www.himeji-kanko.jp/en/spot/ss014.html

Accommodation in Himeji

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This is version 11. Last edited at 8:55 on Dec 19, 16 by Utrecht. 4 articles link to this page.

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