Saturday, April 2, 2016
Himeji Castle and Koko-en Garden
Last Tuesday we took the train an hour west of Kobe to Himeji, home of Japan's most famous castle. Called the White Heron because of its distinctive plaster, we joined thousands of tourists in making the climb to the very top.
From the train station the castle is visible, still dominating even a modern Japanese city.
We were lucky to get there relatively early as a steady stream of vistors began the meandering walk though the outer walls to the keep.
As climb higher the views of the castle just get more imposing.
At one point we waited about forty minutes in line, alongside someone who brought their dog.
The corner slots are defensive positions to drop stones on attackers.
Inside the massive timber frame of the castle is exposed.
In the 1950s the castle was literally dismantled for a major restoration. The carpenters made this model to guide their work, exactly what I saw at the recent restoration of Kanazawa Castle.
The crush of people became pretty intense. And the incredibly steep steps of the castle have not been altered for visitors as far as I could tell.
One last look before leaving.
Next to the castle is a modern garden, an amazing calm and uncrowded counterpoint to the castle.
Feeding the carp created a frenzy.
A local company has started giving boat tours in the castle moat. They built one boat and now have two more under construction. These boats are based on river cargo boats of this region.
Two years ago I had a chance to scull this boat and the rower has a foot pedal controlling an electric outdrive mounted in the bow. It actually came in very handy in some heavy cross winds.