Today we left Kyoto for Hiroshima. On our way, we stopped in Himeji, which is known for an impressive keep.

It takes only one hour to reach Himeji by shinkansen. Himeji – Kyoto is about 130km so one might wonder: is a shinkansen really fast? Yes, it is! We had to take the shinkansen equivalent of a local train and the train stopped literally every 10 minutes. For most of the time we didn’t leave the cities. We were travelling through urban landscapes – or tunnels. I really hoped, we could see a bit of Japans beautiful landscape, but maybe we will on our way to Fukuoka later this week.

In Himeji we wanted to see the castle and its impressive main keep. But currently renovations are carried out at the main keep and until 2015 it will be hidden under in a special hull and is closed to the public. We decided to go anyways. When leaving Himeji Station, one should be able to see the keep towering over the city, instead currently there is the hull with a drawing of the main keep on it. It’s not all that impressive.

To be able to get a combined ticket, we first visited the gardens next to the castle. The gardens were planted on the land of the former samurais’ quarters and each plot was designed for a different theme. The garden features several ponds and artificial streams that are inhabited by numerous huge koi carps. The gardens were beautiful and we got our first glimpse of momiji, as some of the maple trees wore blazing red.

Afterwards we went to see the castle. As Himeji’s castle is still quite complete, there is more to see than the main keep. Originally, we didn’t intend to visit the restauration works at the main keep. The hull has two areas at the top and one at the bottom floor which are open for visitors and an exhibition which explains about the reroofing and replastering of the walls. When we reached the main keep, we went in anyways, and it was quite interesting. Although the roof seems to be finished already, it was very interesting to get a close look at the roof on 8th floor. I guess, you can’t get closer than that.

After that we strolled through the shopping center and tasted various sweets until our train for Hiroshima left. In Hiroshima check in at the hotel was a bit difficult, as the receptionist had problems talking slowly. And the new room is tiny. Very tiny. When we finally went out looking for something to eat, we didn’t find curry, what we had been looking for, but the hiroshima city fire department. Well my boyfriend found it 😀 I was able to talk to one of the firefighters (more or less considering my Japanese skills) and I was allowes inside and could take some photos of the fire engines and ladders. Yay! I promised to send pictures of Stöcken fireengines, too.


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