Hilltop Himeji Castle, regarded as one of the finest feudal-era fortresses in Japan, is overrun--with visitors, many from overseas, that is.
Hordes of foreign tourists have visited since the castle reopened to the public in March after a major renovation.
As a result, local officials and residents are making all-out efforts to make this city in western Japan more friendly to non-Japanese sightseers.
Robert Douthit, an American from San Francisco who visited Himeji Castle with his wife one fine afternoon in mid-September, was delighted he went.
Also among many sightseers who came to the UNESCO World Heritage site that day with their families or in groups was a 54-year-old from Slovenia named Peter Bokros.
Bokros said the landscape from the top floor of the main keep was wonderful, adding that the castle was quite different from ones in his own country.
Since the castle keep reopened to public viewing on March 27, more than 1.5 million people had visited by Sept. 16.
In the castle grounds, tourist pamphlets are available in Japanese, English, French, Chinese (both in simplified and unsimplified forms) and Korean.
The Himeji city office that manages the facility estimates the number of foreign visitors based on how many foreign-language brochures were handed out.
According to its estimate, only 31,000 people from overseas visited the castle between April and August last year, when its main keep was still under renovation, but the number surged to 137,000 for the same period in 2015.
source by newsonjapan