I woke at 10 AM, the other two at 11. That’s how exhausted we were.
We decided to go to Himeji, famous for its huge original castle. After eating lunch, also our breakfast, in a small underground restaurant we reached the ticket gates when B realised she’d left her ticket in her jacket at the hotel, not knowing that it was the rail pass.
So we were running even later. Then when we returned we caught the rapid express to Himeji, not the Special Rapid Express. Even later.
The ride itself was nice as we’ve only caught the Shinkansen out that way. There were good views of the Akashi Bridge, spotted from the plane yesterday, and of the ocean.
Once at Himeji B realised that she was under dressed for the temperature, so we wandered through the adjacent department store searching for jackets. Eventually, she purchased one from H&M, a Swedish chain, which just seems wrong.
We were now in a hurry to reach the castle before entries closed.
B and I had visited Himeji Castle on our very first trip to Japan, but Alex had never seen it before. Since that time it has undergone another renovation.
The castle itself is huge, six stories high. We climbed up to the top. Many windows were open, a stiff breeze blowing through them.
On the ride in I had thought to myself how plain the Japanese buildings looked compared to those in the European capitals.
On the outside Himeji Castle was far more grand than the fortresses we had encountered over the past weeks. But it’s interior was bare wood, simple and without much ornamentation. Even when occupied by its lord it was unlikely to have come close to the decoration of the European interiors.
The castle was beginning to close as we descended, but there was a huge benefit in our lateness. The evening sun cast a reddish light over the white castle, the surrounding buildings and trees silhouetted against the sun.
It was so beautiful. And the red sun painted the Japanese flag on the horizon and it passed.
After the slow train in we caught the Nozomi Shinkansen service, the fastest way, back to Shin-Osaka and a local train to Osaka. It was way faster and more comfortable, if less revealing of the countryside.
After some more shopping at Lucua we went hunting for dinner, finding Gyukatsu Motomura. Like the more common tonkatsu this was breadcrumbed meat, only beef instead of pork. Also, you grill slices of it at your table so no arguments about it being overcooked. It was really, really nice and worth the long queue.
I tried to purchase a VAIO laptop from Yodobashi, but my bank was not playing ball. Now I have to hope that it’ll still be in stock tomorrow. Very annoyed!
The problem with waking so late was that nobody wants to sleep on time. But there’s more to do tomorrow… (Or today now)