Day 8 of my Japan trip started at the historical Himeji castle and ended in the bustling city of Osaka.
After having mostly Japanese cuisine for breakfast on this trip, we opted to pop into a nearby bakery called Boulangerie Rauk. With our baked goods in hand, T and I headed off to Kyoto station to pick up our shinkansen (bullet train) tickets to Himeji.
Thanks to our Japan Rail Pass, we were quickly allocated reserved tickets to Himeji – leaving on the 9:16 am train which would arrive at 10:10 am. The total trip would taken only 54 minutes with a quick train swap at Osaka.
Getting to Himeji Castle 姫路城 (aka White Heron castle) is very easy and only a 20 minute stroll from Himeji station. After you exit the station, head straight down Otemae Street and the majestic castle is at the end of the road.
After we paid for our entrance tickets and traversed the winding paths, we ended up at the base of the main building. In order to ascend each level of the castle, visitors will need to climb up steep, narrow stairs. Once you reach the top floor, you’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view of Himeji city.
Once we finished our tour of the castle, we wandered around the equally beautiful gardens and stumbled upon a Japanese tea ceremony (chanoyu) experience being offered in a tea house. At a bargain price of only ¥500 for the tea ceremony + a Japanese sweet (wagashi), I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Himeji castle!
As we didn’t have any plans for lunch, we settled on a casual udon shop called Iyo Seimen Himeji Miyukidori (伊予製麺姫路みゆき通店) that we chanced upon on our way back to Himeji station. The restaurant is set up similar to a canteen, first thing to do is grab a tray and order your noodles. Make your way down the counter and pick up any toppings like tempura or karaage (fried chicken) you like. Once you reach the end of the counter, the cashier will hand over the noodles and collect your cash.
After finishing up a satisfying meal, we headed back to the station and picked up our shinkansen tickets to Osaka. We didn’t really have plans for Osaka except to wander around the several shopping areas and the lively food district called Dōtonbori.
A very unique feature of Dōtonbori is the array of huge models that hang above several restaurants.
For dinner, we ended up at Tako Hachi – a three storey Japanese in the Dōtonbori area serving up famous Osakan dishes like okonomiyaki (Japanese savoury pancakes) , kushikatsu (deep fried skewers) and takoyaki (octopus balls).
We took a leisurely stroll back to Osaka station and hopped on the next shinkansen back to Kyoto.
Day 1 – Tokyo (Tsukiji Fish Market, Ginza, Asakusa, Shibuya)
Day 2 – Tokyo (Akihabara, Roppongi Hills)
Day 3 – Tokyo (Ueno Park, Tokyo National Museum, Odaiba, Tokyo Tower, Genki Sushi)
Day 4 – Matsumoto (Matsumoto Castle, Kobayashi-Soba, Hirayuno-mori)
Day 5 – Takayama (Takayama Morning Market, Menya Shirakawa, Sumiyoshi Ryokan)
Day 6 – Shirakawa-go
Day 7 – Kanazawa (Kenroku-en, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Omicho Market)
Day 8 – Himeji Castle 姫路城, Osaka (Dōtonbori)
Day 9 – Kinkakuji , Kodaiji Temple, Izuju sushi
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