On November 30 we arrived in Himeji City, home of the fine Himeji Castle.
We love Himeji City! There is plenty of wide, open space in Himeji and the city isn’t too crowded. The area where our hotel Dormy Inn Himeji is, right opposite JR Himeji, has countless izakayas that open till early morning.
From our hotel, Himeji Castle is just 20 minutes away on foot. It was a pleasurable stroll down streets lined with golden ginko trees.
Although the main castle keep is under refurbishment now, the rest of the castle grounds and the surrounding park remain open to the public.
It was a Saturday when we visited Himeji Castle, so there were many families and youths – many of these youths were dressed in colourful yutakas. There were also performers dressed in exquisite costumes, mimicking the royalty who once lived in Himeji Castle.
It is worth exploring the castle’s interior, where one would learn about Senhime, or Princess Sen, the eldest daughter of shogun Tokugawa Hidetada. She led a bittersweet life during those warring times, and her life gave birth to many legends.
Visitors are shown where she lived in the sprawling castle, where she prayed for her family and where she dressed herself. In the room where she supposedly loved playing cards with her closest attendee, I caught this spectacular sunset.
The castle’s interior was about to close by the time we exited Kesho Yagura, the tower where the princess is said to dress herself, so we made our way out. Along the way, in a quiet courtyard, we saw a bald tree with tiny, white buds on its spindly branches.
Curious, we went closer and were surprised by what we saw.
What luck to find cherry blossoms in autumn! This unexpected sighting inspired the husband and I to plan a trip to Japan again next March/April when we can truly appreciate the beauty of cherry blossom season.