In our original plans it was going to be about half an hour to Himeji, 2 hours going round the castle, then half an hour back, giving us part of the afternoon to go round Kyoto. Slight under-estimation.

Alas it’s mainly the Nozomi trains that stop at Himeji – the very high speed ones the JR Railpass does not cover, net result ebing we had to wait about 40 minutes for a slow Kodama train (once an hour). Secondly it should take ~80 minutes. We encountered a rare occurence – our train was early at Himeji – almost un heard of.

We get to the station and can see the castle, Himeji-Jo, straight away. Even from a distance it’s impressive. Once we got a lot closer, Dave came out with the statement It does not look that steep. The place is grand, expansive, and full of fellow tourists, though mainly Japanese. You climb up through the steep layers until you get to a parade ground, and then the keep. The main donjon is 5 stories high and very impressive from the outside. Inside it was interesting, bhut there was not much. Some how I still managed to take over 50 photographs so will post most of them separately from the main picture archive.

Post the castle we went for lunch – our first soba noodles of the holiday. David had his in a broth with tempura cold, I had mine in the traditional style, cold with a dipping soy sauce.

We decided to hit the Himeji gardens. At first these were nice, but with being a modern recreation of 9 stroll gardens they began to become some what samey. We did stop for a tea ceremony, but it was a tourist offering and we’re certain much of it was done wrong (I have read up about it before I should point out). Was still relaxing. Only down side was my knee had given me warning signs a couple of times during the day, and when I went to kneel down to take the tea, it almsot gave out, so I ended up having to sit.

Eventually we spent around 6 hours in Himeji. There’s more to do there than you’d first think, with quite an extensive shopping arcade. now we’re back in Kyoto and the plans for tonight are probably Gion (the geiko and maiko (geisha and trainee geisha) quarters).

Oh – another quote from Dave. “Wish my camera had an optical zoom”. Another quote from later “Oh my camera has an optical zoom”.