The main draw to visit Himeji was to see the famous Himeji Castle. It is said to be one of the finest surviving examples of prototypical Japanese castle architecture and one of the most visited in Japan. The city was very quiet out of Sakura Tree season. We stumbled upon a vibrant Bar & Grill called Pigeon Plus where we ate, drank and partied all night with the locals! It was difficult to find many cafe or restaurant recommendations prior to arriving in Himeji however we were lucky to find Cafe Furan and Koba & More which did not disappoint.
Top tip! Make sure to withdraw cash and know where your nearest 7/11 is.
Air BnB – ‘One Piece Room’ which was basic but a fantastic location only 10 minute walk from the JR Himeji Station and Sanyohimeji Station. A definite highlight of this particular 9th floor flat was the view of Himeji Castle which is also an easy 20 minute walk away and great views of the surrounding city.
Cafe Furan – The door way has beautiful indigo dyed Noren hanging and welcoming you into the cafe which felt more like someone’s home. In the entrance you had to remove your shoes and there was a small hand drawn floor plan of the cafe. Near the till is a ‘shop’ with local vegetables and produce on sale and locally baked goods. The cafe felt like a livingroom and you sat on the floor around small tables. The menu was a ring bound note book with photo cut outs of the meals annotated by hand. The menu is small and curated with 3 main course options and 2 desserts. It was all in Japanese but little drawings of a chicken and a mushroom helped us decipher what each dish contained. The bathroom was outside in the garden and a pair of Crocs was provided to step over the stones. The food was fresh, seasonal and a good portion size, made by the lovely lady in her open plan kitchen. Cash only. @cafe_furan
Location – 10, Zaimokumachi, Himeji, Hyogo, Japan
Koba & More – Koba specialises in ramen and has been making it for 30 years. Originally from Tokyo he moved with his family to Himeji. He makes everything himself by hand and is famous for his Milk Ramen. Eat the Chop Suey Ramen and Tofu Soba with Ginger. Enjoy your meal on the kitchen bar whilst conversing with Koba himself and enjoying his extensive music collection and retro sound system. For Koba it’s all about the Jazz. Note that this is cash only and no photographs, unless you ask politely.
Location: 59 Gofukumachi, Himeji 670-0923, Hyogo Prefecture
Pigeon Plus – Bar and Grill serving up Italian food. They also have a very active events calendar and the night that we walked passed was an evening showcasing local Dj’s and DJ’s from Tokyo. The tickets included a BBQ and entry drink, and from what I can remember, delicious noodles were served in the early hours of the morning! The atmosphere was buzzing and vibrant with a great, hip young crowd enjoying the outdoor terrace space and house music till the early hours of the morning. @pigeonplus @m_madoka1228
Location: 西二階町39, Himeji-shi , Hyogo 670-0901, Japan
Riviera – Super small cocktail bar round the corner from Pigeon Plus. We met @amshitomi at the party and she took us for a drink at Riviera. Relatively new and very small with a hand written menu on the wall. She is a huge fan of The Conran Shop! She also owns a restaurant called Buena Vista which specialises in wine with a healthy menu that is vegetable focused.
Himeji Castle – The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture and is one of the most visit in Japan. It is a World Cultural Heritage Site and UNESCO World Heritage site. In Himeji, during WW2, it was one of the only buildings to survive intensive bombing of the city by covering it in a large black sheet. Visit in June as it is out of season and very quiet. We enjoyed being able to walk around the castle and grounds without lots of crowds. Most people go for the cherry blossom around March to April when the castle and city is abundant with Sakura Trees.
Location – 68 Honmachi, Himeji, Hyōgo Prefecture 670-0012
Kokoen Gardens – Japanese Style Gardens reconstructed in the early 1990’s. It is made up of 9 different walled gardens in the Edo Period style. Half way around there is a Tea House where you can take part in a traditional Tea Ceremony which can be booked in advance. You can buy a combined ticket for Himeji Castle and Kokoen Gardens as they are next to each other.