A new week a new Japan post stop to share, and this makes the 6th! Today we are taking the train to visit Himeji, where the uber-famous Hello Kitty Café is visited daily by thousands of tourists.
Ha! I’m just kidding! of course Himeji castle, a.k.a the White Heron, must be the most favorite landmark of the city which appears in every Japan’s top 10 list. In fact it’s otherwise, the city’s name is mostly (or should I better say only?) known after the castle since it was registered as a World Heritage site.
However, our story begins there, at that little quirky corner where a huge pink bow & kitty ears make the wonders of the Sanrio (kawaii) groupies just like me. Are you in the mood for the cutest bite?
When looking about what else we could add in our Himeji visit, the Hello Kitty café magically appeared in my radar. The minute I saw the cute door I knew it wouldn’t hurt us to make a little stop to have breakfast before going to the main event of the day. I fluttered my eyelashes at Dani and luckily he agreed. I have to admit that after showing him all the images, and specially the yummy looking sweets, he was maybe even more excited than I was. It’s not a big secret that Dani has a big sweet tooth.
From the station there is a big avenue that in a 10-minute walk takes you to the castle. It was funny to take a turn left to say “see you in a while” to the castle and the rest of visitors to take a slow breakfast at the café. We were the first guests of the café, and the girl who opened it was very amused by our devotion.
After reading all the news about the Hello Kitty universe – she looks quite busy, let me tell you! *wink – we were ready to join the crowds at the castle. We received quite some warnings that the place is packed, but I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal, at least during regular season (Golden week must be a different story to tell). We bought the tickets right away, and although there is no denying about the popularity of the place, we were able to wander around at our own pace.
The castle grounds are spacious and let the castle itself make all the talking. The castle as we can see it today dates from the 17th century (when it was completely rebuilt), survived Meiji period, which is a feat taking into account that around 2000 (!) castles were wrecked during that time… and it’s definitely breathtaking. It had recently undergone a 5-year restoration, and everything is looking amazing, the pure white of its walls contrasting with the grey roofs and the fish gargoyle.
The interiors are also something to admire, you can see some defensive artefacts that remain intact and learn all the different architectonic tricks they used in the construction. We realized that most of the visitors where decidedly and quickly climbing up the stairs to reach the views, but we recommend don’t missing to read and watch carefully all those details that are scattered around for you to discover.
With all these exciting new things to discover we forgot to have lunch, so we headed to grab some street food and went back to Osaka: a unique encounter was waiting for us, you’ll see! Join our second part of Osaka on Monday, pinky promise we’ll try to post more frequently.
Tokyo – Part I: Shinjuku & Harajuku
Tokyo – DisneySea
Hakone and the Takuminoyado Yoshimatsu onsen
Osaka – Part I: Osaka Castle, Umeda views and Dotonbori at night