Although Himeji Castle tends to steal the spotlight from the city's other attractions, Engyoji Temple on Mount Shosha is less talked about but still quite popular and worth the trip to see!
To get there, you have to take a bus to the Shosha Ropeway and then use the ropeway to reach the complex.
The bus depot is located across from the station on the side of the castle. Those planning to visit Engyoji Temple on Mount Shosha should purchase the 1300 yen pass that covers the bus fare and the ropeway fair to and from the mountain. You can alternatively pay each fair individually but you'll spend more money that way.
The Shosha Ropeway bus leaves from stop 1 which is at the bus terminal, so you can wait inside until it arrives. If you don't understand Japanese, the station workers will probably be able to let you know when your bus has come to board or show you the time schedule so that you can keep track yourself.
It takes about 30 minutes to get to the ropeway and the times for the ropeway and bus are timed so that you can go from one to the other easily, so particularly when you are leaving, go straight to the bus after the getting off the ropeway so you don't miss it and have to wait. Also, be sure to keep your ticket if you bought the round-trip pass so you don't have to pay again.
If you really hate walking there is also a 1000 yen bus at the top of the ropeway that can take you directly to the complex, but that price is very expensive and the walk to reach the first gate doesn't take that long (about 15 minutes) and there are statues along the way to keep it interesting, so I recommend walking.
Free rental bikes can be asked from the tourist information desk at the north exit (towards the city centre and castle). They will give you tokens that you can exchange for the bike at an underground rental place, some 5 minutes walking along the main road from the JR station to the castle. True, then you are halfway the castle, but it is much more comfortable to cycle along the wide and quiet sidewalks than to trudge in the heat.
The Loop Bus is very convenient for those who want to travel quickly and it only costs 100 yen per ride, so it's very affordable!
The Loop Bus goes from Himeji Station and loops around the castle. There are stops near all of these sites:
-Himeji City Zoo
-Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History
-Himeji City Museum of Art
-Otokoyama Senhime Shrine
The bus will get you from the station to the castle in just 5 minutes, but even on foot, it will only take about 15 minutes, and there are many shops along the way, so either way is nice.
Because it is such a popular destination, Himeji is well-connected to many cities.
The Shinkansen connects Himeji to the nearby cities of Okayama, Kurashiki, Kobe, Osaka, and Kyoto, as well as cities located much further away like Nagoya, Hiroshima, Onomichi, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Shimonoseki, and Fukuoka.
Local trains are a great way to save money. There are direct trains from Okayama, Tsuyama, and Kobe, but local trains are also convenient for those travelling from Osaka and Kyoto.
We came to Himeji bt train from Kyoto. There are two main trains that run from Kyoto to Himeji, the rapid one and the regional one.The cost of the ticket is the same, about 15 euro one way but the regional train takes about 2 hours and half, instead of the one hour and half of the rapid trains.Usually you do not need to know train timetables as there are really a lot of trains running any hour.
Make use of your Japan Rail Pass as Himeji can visited half day is you wish.
Journey from Kyoto JR is only 55 minutes by Hikari Shinkansen.
You can get a JR West Rail Pass which covers Kansai area including Osaka and Kyoto. And its available at cost JPY2000 for 1 day.
From Kyoto station, take the Hikari 361 shinkansen to Himeji Castle. It runs hourly from platform 13 or 14 (check with station master) and takes 55 minutes to get there.
Exit Himeji Station, and walk for 15-20 minutes on the main road to Himeji Castle. You can't miss it as there's only 1 main street dotted with many interesting shops and cafes.
Alternatively, take the Raku loop bus to go to the castle and around it. It's interesting to see the old village that surrounds the castle. To find the bus, exit Himeji Station, turn left and cross the street. It's a dark red small bus. Cost US$5.10 per person.
It is very easy to get to Himeji by train once in the Kansai region of Japan. It is within easy range of Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto and Nara which are all popular cities to visit in Japan. I think that anyone travelling to the Kansai region should make an effort to go to Himeji for a half day at least and tour this beautiful castle. It is about 4 hours by Shinkansen from Tokyo.
The Shinkansen is by far the most convenient way to travel around Japan. Unfortunately it isn't very cheap! Luckily there is a Japan JR Rail Pass available to foreign travellers. See the JR East website for details:
It must be bought abroad and stamped in Japan before you can use it. There are several options including one week (unlimited JR travel except for the super fast Nozomi service), two week, JR East and JR West passes. Check with your local travel agent for the best option or click on the link to see for yourself!
Here is a link to a very cool page that lets you see the routing between cities/stations/ports within Japan. It will tell you the route and includes the cost and time. http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/.
I have heard that there is a place at Himeji station where you can borrow bikes for free for a day. The main part of Himeji and the castle is easily seen by walking, but a bike ususally gets you there quicker. If nothing else, riding a bike gives you the near-death experience of riding in a crush of cars, bikes, and people.
There are a 4 discount ticket shops near Himeji Station. These shops sell mostly JR train tickets (including Shinkansen), but also bus tickets (to Tokyo, to Itami Airport, etc), movie tickets, stamps, postcards, telephone cards, gift certificates to dept stores, museum admission tickets, etc. ALL AT A DISCOUNT!
The closest one to the north of the station is on Miyuki Dori (the shopping st). Walk north out of the on the main st , turn right at Vie De France(bakery),& the tkt shop is at the next corner on the right.
Himeji is a smallish city which is dominated by the castle. If my memory isn't failing me there wasn't a tram system here but everything was within walking distance. The castle was straight down the main street once exiting the JR Station and took maybe 5-10 minutes to walk to. There are buses also around town and taxis but I don't think it was necessary to use either of these.
FROM OSAKA/KOBE: take the JR train-JR Kobe line and heads towards Himeji. Take the 'special rapid' train and it will take you 1 hr from Osaka, 45 mins from Kobe to reach Himeji (it costs 1450yen from Osaka, 950 yen from Kobe, one way fare).
You can also take the Hankyu or Hanshin Railways (which will lead you to Sanyo Himeji Station-the rail lines are shared) but they take much longer with more stops in between. It`s about 200yen cheaper than JR I think.
JR HIMEJI STATION is also a SHINKANSEN station so you can take the SHINKANSEN directly to Himeji as well (more costly but it takes half the time than the regular train).
FROM OSAKA ITAMI AIRPORT take the airport limousine bus to Himeji (arriving at Himeji Station). 1 hr 20 mins. Costs 2100 yen.
FROM KANSAI INT'L AIRPORT take the airport limousine bus to Kobe/Sannomiya (1 hr, about 1500 yen). From there, transfer to the JR train-JR Kobe line and head towards Himeji. Take the 'special rapid' train and it will take you 45 mins to reach Himeji (950 yen).
Himeji Castle is already visible from the train, but get out of it and walk to the castle for a clser look. Only 10 minutes walking from the Shinkansen-station, the castle is just waiting to be visit by all travellers that pass by.
Himeji is about 2 hours from Kyoto, 90 mins from Osaka & 60 mins from Kobe by JR shinkaisoku (limited express) train. If you have little time, take the Shinkansen, but this will cost more!
JAPAN SHINKANSEN MAP: Click Here
SHINKANSEN ROUTE MAP: Click Here