Himeji (姫 路) is a small town located at the western end of the Kansai region famous for its wooden castle. Built in the 17th century, Himejoi-jo, is nicknamed Hakurojo or Shirasagijo (White Heron Castle) because of its brilliant white plastered walls exterior.
Considered the finest castle in Japan, with 83 wooden buildings with a complicated spiral labyrinth pattern in its inner walls designed to lose the assailants and allow the besieged to defend themselves.
The castle is both a national treasure and a World Heritage site. It has also often been featured in Japanese and foreign film series such as The Last Samurai and 007: We only live twice.
Located in the shadow of the castle, Koko-en is a modern garden opened in 1993. Actually gardens is more accurate, as there are nine different types of garden, all based on styles popular during the Edo Period (1603-1868).
If you have three or four days in Kyoto/Osaka or on your way to/from Hiroshima, we suggest making this day trip.