We travelled almost 700 km today from
Nagasaki to the little town of Himeji.
Himeji is famous for having one of the few original castles in Japan – a World Heritage Site. We arrived at about 2.00 pm and found that the best thing to do was to leave our luggage in a coin locker at the station and spend the afternoon at the castle. We caught the little tourist loop bus to the castle at a cost of 100 Yen.
The castle is a spectacular structure with all of the area defined by the original inner moat as now consisting of a park. The castle tower is reached through a series of gates and twisting alley ways (all part of the original defences). Made from timber and clay walls, it consists of six floors in the main tower and has a number of surrounding guard houses, walls and storage buildings in case of a siege. It was built in the middle of the 16th Century. A western extension (known as the Western Bailey) includes a 300 metre long building along the length of a wall and was built as a residence for the daughter of one of the Shoguns.
We are spending tonight at the illustrious Himeji Plaza Hotel, which is a small business hotel. Near the station. It provides nothing more than a bedroom, but we do get free broadband Internet. What you can see in the attached photo is basically all there is to our room except for the bathroom which is behind where I have taken the picture. Jill has gone feral, saying that she’s not even going to unpack, use the bathroom or change, but one night in a simple small Japanese room won’t hurt us. If I was really adventurous, I could go down to the ground floor and use the public bathroom.
The main difficulty that we had tonight was finding somewhere to eat. There are some really cute little restaurants nearby, but none have English menus and no one can speak any English either. I’m sure that they serve delicious food, but the language barrier makes it impossible for us to order anything. We ended up at the station in a little diner where you had to buy a ticket for the meal that you want from a vending machine and then sit at the counter to eat it. Fortunately, we arrived at a quiet moment and the lady behind the counter had enough time to come out to the front of the store to show us which button on the vending machine corresponded with each of the plastic representions of the various meal choices in the window display. We are sure that it wasn’t the best food in the world, but it was warm and we were cold and hungry enough to eat it.
Tomorrow, we move on to Kyoto for a few days of cultural discovery and temple visiting.