Although I visited in autumn I was amazed to see a cherry tree trying to blossom. Cherry blossom time in Japan is extremely popular and if you get the chance you should visit during that time. On TV you will not only see the weather forecast but also the cherry blossom forecast, so that you know exactly where to travel to see them. Cherry blossom time is party time in Japan and you see families everywhere sitting on tarpaulins and picnic.
When I visited Himeji there was a small exhibition of Bonsai trees on the big square by the castle. All over Japan you may see these miniature trees which get their branches chopped off in a special fashion. These trees get very old and can be extremely valuable.
Not necessarily a cultural thing, but this was an interesting sight on the walk to Himeji Castle. Two guys were walking there dressed up prairie dogs (it wasn't even a street entertainer/peddling scheme either).
Japanese language is one of the most complicated! Three types of characters. Anyway, here's some useful phrases to keep in mind in case you need help.
IN AN EMERGENCY:Help! Tas'kete!
Call the police Keisatsu o yonde kudasai!
Thank you Arigato gozaimasu
Excuse Me Sumimasen
I don't understand Wakarimasen
Do you speak English? Eigo o hanashimasuka?
How are you? Ogenki desu ka ?
Good morning Ohayo gozaimasu
Good afternoon Konnichiwa
Good evening Konbanwa
Good night Oyasumi nasai
Good bye Sayonara
For more information about the castle, especially from an architectonic point of view, check this page: Himeji Castle