09.11.2009 - 09.11.2009 20 °C
Day 5 of the trip arrived with a sniffle and a splutter. My cough has turned into flu like symptoms and I am having visions of being snatched off the street by over vigilant japanese health officials and forced to wear one of those silly masks. The only thing worse than getting a cold/flu while on holiday is doing it in a country that appears to be full of hypochondriacs. In a country where it's bad form to blow your nose in public it really does make it awkward to go out with a nasty cold.
In any case we kicked off the morning with the free buffet breakfast which consisted of a couple of sausages, a few pastries and a slice of pineapple accompanied by a few topped up glasses of orange juice. Then it was time to check out of the hotel and hit the castle.
Our hotel was on the opposite side of the station to the castle, with the station about half way between so our plan was to go to the station, put our backpacks into a locker and then head on to the castle. When it was time to head to Okayama we'd just have to come back and pick up the bags and jump straight on a train. We didn't think they'd fit at first as the doorway is narrower than the storage area but we managed to squeeze them in and could now get on with the touristy stuff.
As you walk up the main boulevard that leads to the castle you soon start seeing glimpses of it through the trees. It was amazing to learn that where the station is used to be the outer wall of the castle. Unlike alot of other castles in Japan which have been rebuilt in modern times, himeji has actually survived the tests of time and is most impressive.
We pay our entry and start by walking around the outer baileys and courtyards. There are plenty of signs explaining the various aspects of the castle and what their role was during sieges etc. Before long it was time to take off the shoes and begin the climb to the top.
There were something like 6 flights of "stairs" to the top. Now these stairs were more like ladders and wearing my slippery compression sock with my huge feet on these tiny little stairs sure made it interesting. I made Vanessa follow behind me so if I fell I'd have something soft to land on.
What really struck me about the place was how crap it would be to live in it :D. It's actually quite small inside the main donjon and would have been quite stark.
Once we got to the top I was most disappointed to be told the princess was in another castle.
Next up was the gardens next door called Koko-en. If there is one thing the Japanese do well is they know how to do a good garden.
What was cool was while we were there some couple in their top gear.
By this time the combination of that punishing climb and my cold/flu had taken it's toll and I was ready to get on the train and move on to Okayama. So we picked up our bags got our tickets and headed on.
Once we got to Okayama it was only a short walk down to our hotel (Kooraku hotel). We checked in and rested our aching legs before gathering the energy needed to go looking for food.
We left the hotel and walked for ages and the only places we could find were izakaya's (pubs) basically. Oh and a mcdonalds. After 40 mins of fruitless searching we said fuckit and had maccas and it was shit but at least we could now just go to bed.