Bitch’n and shrine’n

I’ve really messed up planning this trip. When I went looking for somewhere to stay today everywhere was booked out. I ended up with a double room in the second Toyoko Inn of Okayama as our existing hotel only had smoking rooms available. That was still better than any of the other cities on my list to visit. Moral of the story: book Saturday nights in advance.

I’m very sleepy and somewhat addled right now. I wasn’t sure what to do today; there were too many choices. So we just hopped on a local diesel train up the Kibi line for no good reason. It was only a short ride chugging past rural towns and rice paddies. The line terminated at Bichu Takamatsu, a town dominated by a giant rust-coloured torii.

We followed the signs towards the ruins of Bichu Takamatsu’s castle. By the way, the Bichu designation refers to the region and distinguishes the town from Takamatsu in Shikoku. The town itself seems utterly undistinguished. The day was hot and clear as we walked along the narrow road. A variety of houses lined the street. One had black burnt walls, but otherwise seemed okay. Another had a gorgeous garden hidden behind its fence. Many sported little vegetable gardens.

We came across a barbers shop, replete with red and blue poll, alone on the street in offering any kind of service. It was pleasant to take a quiet walk and see up close a side of Japan that usually whizzed by our train windows.

The ruins was just a park with a few signs and memorials, but it was good for a stroll and to let Alex run around. The castle had be besieged by 30,000 soldiers, then flooded out. The ruling lord had agreed to commit harakiri in return for the lives of his 5000 retainers.

We returned the way we came, back to Okayama station. Where to next? B selected Miyajima, which we only saw in a rush back in 2006. A Shinkansen took us to Hiroshima station, then we changed lines to a local train to Miyajima. While waiting for the train I noticed some others at the far platform. KiHa 120 diesel railcars. I’ve never been on one, but I’d like to because that was the first Japanese model railway train I bought.

The idea of catching the local lines up to Izumoshi returned, but for now it was Miyajiuma-guchi, the port serving the island. Our JR Passes allow us to catch the JR ferry to the island. Alex enjoyed running around the deck as we cruised past the oyster fields to the island.

Miyajima Island is heavily touristed, but it remains as very beautiful place. The famous floating torii is one of Japans top 3 sights. There are other interesting shrines and temples, a shops selling souvenirs and interesting foods. There are also lots of wild deer around.

We ate, wandered and photographed for a number of hours, before it was time to return back to the mainland. When we arrived at Hiroshima station again there was a frenzy as baseball fans crowded around the Shinkansen area waiting to get a glimpse of what was presumably the local team, the Hiroshima Carps.

Our own Shinkansen ride returned us to Okayama, where we booked seats up to Izumoshi. Will we go? We’ll see.

Pictures to come soon. I need sleep.


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