Foreign tourists could be charged 6 times more than locals to enter Japan’s famed Himeji Castle


Himeji Castle in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture was the first site in Japan to be registered as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1993. - ST

TOKYO: Foreign tourists may have to pay six times more than locals to visit Himeji Castle, a Unesco World Cultural Heritage site in Japan’s Hyogo prefecture.

Himeji mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto said he is mulling over the higher fee during an international symposium on cultural heritage and natural disasters on June 16, Kyodo News reported.

Kiyomoto reportedly said the city is looking to set the entrance fee for foreigners at around US$30 and around US$5 for residents.

All visitors aged 18 and older currently have to pay 1,000 yen ($6.25) to enter the castle. Students in elementary, junior high and senior high school pay a reduced fee of 300 yen.

In comparison, the Nikko Toshogu Shrine – part of the shrines and temples World Heritage site in Nikko – charges adults 1,300 yen to enter, while Horyuji Temple in Nara charges 1,500 yen.

Kiyomoto said that too many visitors could damage the castle’s keep.

Kyoto News quoted him as saying that he wanted to avoid raising the admission fee for local residents.

Considered one of the finest surviving examples of early 17th century Japanese architecture, Himeji Castle was the first site in Japan to be registered as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1993.

It is located about an hour from Osaka by train.

It is the most visited castle in Japan, receiving 1.48 million visitors in the 2023 fiscal year, according to the city’s website. Of these, about 30 per cent were foreign tourists.

At a news conference on June 17, Kiyomoto also explained that the cost of maintaining the castle is one of the reasons for the proposed price increase, reported The Asahi Shimbun.

However, he noted that the exact amount is yet to be decided.

The city of Himeji reviews the entrance fee to the castle every 10 years or so, the publication said.

The city last raised the fee in 2015 when it reopened following renovations, going up from 600 yen to the current 1,000 yen.

The report also quoted Kiyomoto as saying that the city government had just started discussing the fee and possible revisions will be implemented in the 2025 fiscal year at the earliest. - The Straits Times/ANN

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