Apart from visiting the Last Samurai movie location (Mt. Sosha), Kobe and Universal Studios, one of the places I wanted to visit at Hyogo Prefecture is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Himeji Castle.
Japan with its feudal past era has an abundant castles, often best view during Cherry Blossom season and usually exploring their magnificent architecture as the primary reason why travelers like me go the extra mile and divert their attention away from the city.
For over 400 years, Himeji Castle remains intact despite surviving World War II bombing attacks and the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquakes that badly damage the harbor city of Kobe.
Considered as Japan’s most beautiful surviving castle, Himeji castle is undergoing maintenance and renovation works starting April 2010 until March 2015. If you visit within this time frame, it can be disappointing to see the main facade of the castle is currently covered with large scaffolding.
Though under-renovation, an elevator accessing the observation deck inside the castle is open for visitors but for very limited capacity only, which requires advance reservation. Though, the castle ground is very much available for visitors to roam around.
I wanted to see Himeji Castle once the renovation is completed, possibly explore the rest of the town of Hyogo Prefecture.