Mayor considering increasing Himeji Castle entry fees for overseas visitors

by Jun 18, 2024Featured Article, News

The mayor of Himeji, western Japan, has said he is contemplating “quadrupling” entry fees exclusively for foreign tourists visiting Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in response to increasing inbound tourism.

The city government acknowledged Monday that Mayor Hideyasu Kiyomoto made the remark the previous day at an international symposium in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture.

The admission fee for the castle, also a national treasure with part of its wooden structure dating back to the early 17th century, is currently set at 1,000 yen for a person aged 18 or above.

“We would like to charge (the equivalent) of around $30 for foreigners and around $5 for residents,” Kiyomoto said at the symposium on cultural heritage and natural disasters.

When asked about his reason for the $5 fee, Kiyomoto told reporters Monday that he wants “to avoid raising the admission fee for local residents.”

He said too many visitors could damage the castle’s keep, which also serves as “a place of rest” for people, and setting two different admission fees might be a good idea.

The city government said in a statement it will take proper measures to realize sustainable tourism as repair and refurbishment of the castle will be continuously needed. It also said many World Heritage castles abroad collect higher fees than Himeji Castle.

Around 1.48 million people visited the castle in fiscal 2023, and 452,300 were foreigners, topping 400,000 for the first time since data became available in fiscal 1992, according to the city government.

Amid a surge in inbound tourism to Japan, local governments are seeking additional funds to maintain tourism infrastructure by introducing or increasing fees. This includes popular destinations such as Mount Fuji and Itsukushima Shrine.