Himeji to Kansai Airport, Osaka, Japan

Wednesday 5th June 2024
Well, our last day has arrived. David’s back is still sore and he doesn’t feel up to a big fast walk around the castle. So after driving to the parking lot, he walked with me to the entrance and I went in to the enormous grounds and went through the huge castle. It was impressive. It was seven storeys tall and made with timber internal structure throughout. At one stage in its life, one of the central support beams had displaced by 3.7cm. The view fromt he top was magnificent as always and helps you see exactly how far it is to the outer wall. They were always a big city within the outer walls, with a couple of moats as well for protection. The walls in to the castle were so high, it is amazing to think the challenges they would have experienced to build it in the first place. I then did a quick walk around the perimeter of the outer castle wall which David had taken at a leisurely strolling pace. 

We then went to the souvenir shop for the grandkids which averted an extra drive to Nara where I had seen some things I liked very early in the piece. I was successful which was great, it meant for a much easier day. I then had time to walk through the Castle Gardens which were as always, a beautiful Japanese Garden with lovely manicured trees, little bridges over lovely ponds. 

Lucky us, we didn’t need to drive to Nara. After our last 7-eleven sushi lunch, we left Himaji and enjoyed a not so leisurely (lots of traffic) towards the airport. We were still amazed at the courtesy on the road, the 3 or 4 storey bridges going in every which way direction. We arrived at  Kansai, Osaka at about 4pm and found a little park in an industrial area. We enjoyed a little rest, finalised our packing and changed into clean travel clothes. At about 5pm we drove to the recommended re-fuelling station, got petrol and drove to the airport for a seamless drop-off of the rental car. We enjoyed our 13 days travel in the car, it got us to places far and wide we couldn’t have managed easily by train albeit with a cost of 44,900Y later in tolls. Lots more than the petrol and parking costs. All worth it to enjoy the countryside you miss in the trains.

Well, with our small bags and no under carriage luggage we passed through the non-checkin stages with ease. Hope you enjoyed our trip from home and I hope to post the last few days pictures in the next couple of weeks.

“Himeji Castle – Japan’s best preserved feudal castle
Himeji Castle (姫路城, Himejijō), also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance, is widely considered Japan’s most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty and its well preserved, complex castle grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles.
Himeji Castle lies at a strategic point along the western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto. The first fortifications built on the site were completed in the 1400s, and were gradually enlarged over the centuries by the various clans who ruled over the region. The castle complex as it survives today was completed in 1609. It is made up of over eighty buildings spread across multiple baileys, which are connected by a series of gates and winding paths.
Most visitors to Himeji Castle enter the castle via the Otemon Gate into the admission-free third bailey (Sannomaru). The Sannomaru contains of a large, cherry tree-lined lawn, and is a popular spot for viewing cherry blossoms usually in early April.
The labyrinth-like approach from there to the main keep leads along walled paths and through multiple gates and baileys with the purpose to slow down and expose attacking forces. At the heart of the complex stands the main keep, a six storey wooden structure. It is one of only a handful castle keeps in Japan that feature wing buildings, adding complexity to its appearance.
Visitors enter the main keep through an entrance in the lower floor of the building and climb upwards via a series of steep, narrow staircases. Each level gets progressively smaller as you ascend. The floors are generally unfurnished and display just a few multilingual signs explaining architectural features such as portholes, rock chutes and concealed spaces as well as renovation efforts made over the years to preserve the structure.
The topmost floor houses a small shrine and lets visitors peer out in all directions, down over the roofs, the maze-like defenses and out across the city of Himeji. You can also admire an up close view of the fish-shaped roof ornaments that are believed to protect from fire.”