Himeji castles and gardens.

It was an early start this morning to begin heading south. We went from Shinjuku to Tokyo station to catch the bullet train to Himeji. On the journey the weather gods kept the sky clear and sunny so we were finally able to get good views of Mount Fuji from the windows. It was stunning.
IMG_5893 IMG_5924 IMG_5940
In Himeji we got the tourist loop bus from the station up towards the castle. The castle is amazing. It has white walls and a black roof which apparently from the sky look like a flying heron. Inside the inner moat was a park where we sat and had a picnic before paying the entrance fee to go up to the castle tour. The main tower is closed currently for restorations but we were able to walk around the outer buildings with a volunteer guide who offered us a free English tour. He was very knowledgable and able to discuss the roles of the Samurai in the defence of the castle throughout its history. It added real depth to what we were looking at as we went around.
IMG_5944 IMG_5945 IMG_5948 IMG_5949 IMG_5952 IMG_5957 IMG_5965 IMG_5966 IMG_5968 IMG_5969 IMG_5976 IMG_5981 IMG_5982 IMG_5985 IMG_5991 IMG_5995 IMG_5997 IMG_6000 IMG_6001 IMG_6002 IMG_6008 IMG_6009 IMG_6013
After thanking our guide we went next door to the Kokoen gardens (we bought a combined castle and garden ticket). There was little in the way of flowers due to the time of year but the reds, yellows and oranges of the leaves alongside the many water features were very pretty.
IMG_6015 IMG_6018 IMG_6038 IMG_6042 IMG_6044 IMG_6046 IMG_6049 IMG_6050 IMG_6054 IMG_6057 IMG_6061 IMG_6068 IMG_6073 IMG_6076 IMG_6078 IMG_6088
Both the castle and gardens were very busy, particularly with Japanese tourists, as it turned out to be a bank holiday. In the attractions this was a hindrance but it did mean that outside there was a street festival with market stalls and live music provided by various J-pop groups, which included much crazy dancing from the audience.
IMG_6089IMG_6093 IMG_6096
We walked through the celebrations then along a side street back towards the station and as we had a bit of time we went to find some dinner. Our guide book had told us that to find the equivalent if a Japanese pub you have to go to a place with red lanterns outside so we found one of those and went in. No one in there spoke any English so we used the phrase section of our guide book to order what we hoped would be pork gyoza, prawns and breadcrumbed chicken and to our surprise that is what we actually got! By the time we left it was busy with locals so I think we managed to choose well.

We took our bullet train down to Hiroshima, booked into the Hotel New Hiroden and then fell asleep for the night.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: