Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Postcard from Japan: Saturday, October 22, 2016, Part One

Himeji Castle looms over the city with the main thoroughfare
directly in front.  An amazing sight as you leave the train station
to walk to the castle grounds.

Today, Tomoko-san and I go to Himeji Castle in Himeji city.  I am glad that I didn't realize ahead of time how difficult the steep slope entrance and the stairs/stairways inside would be to climb.  Himeji Jo (castle) is famous for its military strategy in defensive walls, entrances and armament positions.

The steep slope is very difficult to walk up (small stones with large stones at the edges), circuitous twisting paths (no straight line entrances), and always moving up.  From the castle, the samurai warriors were able to see all the entrances below so no surprise enemy attacks.  (No attacks were ever experienced so they don't know if the defenses worked or not.)  And, of course, my camera had died so I couldn't take any pictures.

At some point, we all (this is Saturday so there were a lot of tourists) had to remove our shoes and carry them in a plastic bag.  The very top level is the 7th floor.  Tomoko-san and I (and everyone else I guess) climbed to the top.  I wondered if it was like climbing to the top of the Washington Monument, and back down.
Map of the castle grounds with the samurai families
living within the dark blue walls of the inner city
and the merchants and townspeople living on the
outer edge.

Close-up detail of inner castle area.
Of course, we took time to have lunch before the big climb--- sushi!
Tomoko-san at the sushi-ya.

Japan is experiencing a tourist boom all year long and so many signs are also in Chinese, Korean as well as Japanese and English.  Fortunately, the train and subway station signs are now always in English (Roman letters) as well as Chinese characters, which Japanese uses, along with the two phonetic alphabets of hiragana and katakana.  For those staying in Japan for more than a vacation, learning the basic phonetic alphabets helps tremendously to read signs and directions.

Because my camera had died and I was determined to get a new one, Tomoko-san was kind enough to take me to a big techy store with cameras.  I'm just beginning to appreciate my new camera.  It's turquoise!

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