Sunday, March 18, 2007

Himeji

I am struck by just how amazing the sights we are seeing on this trip are. I'd say they're all in the top tier of things I've seen in my life. Saturday was no exception with a quick stop at Himeji on the way to Hiroshima.

Himeji Castle was quite simply astonishing in its size and grandeur. This is now the second authentic\original\non-concrete Japanese castle that I've seen, after visiting Matsumoto-jo in August, and I'd say they are a must see for anyone coming to Japan. Himeji is especially easy to visit as it isn't that far from Kyoto where everyone stops anyway on their way through Japan.

As we arrived in Himeji and started walking towards the castle, we were surprised by these 2 futuristic police bikes that zoomed through the intersection, lights and sirens blaring. We expected to see a fancy limo or parade behind them but, there was nothing. I like the picture with the guy with the red jacket in the foreground.


And here is the castle. A mere 15 minutes of walking brings you to the front of this behemoth of Japanese fortifications. Nijo-jo, which we visited in Kyoto earlier this week, was really only used as a residence, not so much as a military fortification. Himeji-jo on the other hand, was a major military fortress, also housing the lords and their families and such. Here is the happy group, in awe over the scale of this thing.


This is a shot of the main Donjon which is set on a hill and towers over the surrounding countryside.


Another couple of angles, from some of the countless walls and gates which protect the approach to the main tower, I wouldn't have wanted to be the poor sap whose lord decides to take on this castle... every angle is covered by archer holes, rock and oil dropping gates and other assorted nastiness.



Here is a closer view of the main tower, from the field which lays right in front. At this point, we proceeded to go up to the very top of the tower, through a series of steep stairs.


This was the view from the top, overlooking one of the decorative roof ornaments.


Amazing place to visit, there aren't enough superlatives to express myself. Here is a panoramic shot I took and stitched together.


After grabbing a great lunch at a Turkish\Indian place, we hopped the Shinkansen and went down the line to Hiroshima, checked in to our hotel and walked around some to find a place to eat. Here is a shot from one of the overpasses in Hiroshima, you can see the streetcar coming up.


And that's about that for now. Today, we're off to Miyajima and possibly to visit the Peace Park and A-Bomb Dome.

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