3 Strikes at Himeji Castle


For the last 10 years Himeji Castle has been my nemesis. From coming too late on my first visit, to the castle being under construction on my last, Himeji castle has long eluded me.

But this time things were going to be different!

A Little Help from a Friend

While discussing with a friend my desire and my inability to visit Himeji castle, he mentioned that he too had never seen the castle and wondered if he could drive us up there so we could visit it together. Of course I thought this was a wonderful idea.

With glad hearts we departed early to drive down to Himeji from Osaka with a brief stop in Kobe for an amazing world buffet lunch. So with bellies full and a smile on my heart, we left Kobe.

One thing that became apparent rather quickly was that it takes a lot longer to drive somewhere in Japan than it does in Canada. When I glanced at the total trip distance from Kobe I was encouraged to see that it was just over 90 km in total. So I thought “Sweet! This should take us just under an hour to drive”. I was somewhat surprised, and admittedly doubtful, when my friend said we should be able to do it in about 3 hours.

Wha? Surely not!

Surely Yes!

I guess he wasn’t kidding.

Just over three hours later we pull into Himeji and make our way through the winding streets towards the castle. And with the sun shining and my spirits high we pull into the parking lot and take a leisurely stroll to the castle.

Let me say that the castle is beautiful. We spent some time getting some exterior shots and our Japanese friend did a wonderful job of explaining some of the castle’s history and construction as we made our way to the gate.

We arrived at the gate at 4:01.

The castle closes at 4:00.

It took me a few minutes to calm down and take these photos

It took me a few minutes to calm down and take these photos

Now when I tell you this, your first thought may be, why not just ask a staff member politely to be let in? But let me say this, there wasn’t a staff member in sight! It was if every person around the entrance was immediately beamed up at exactly 4:00. It was a ghost town.

And so I failed to visit Himeji Castle. Again.

Admittedly we had a good laugh after the shock wore off, and it does give me another good excuse to plan another trip to Japan (as if I needed one). But for now I will sit here shaking my fist at Himeji and muttering “Damn you! You haven’t seen the last of me!”


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