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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

3 November 2015

Packed into Himeji-jo

7 October 2015

Today we moved on to Kyushu, but broke the day at the city of Himeji, where a huge fortress is to be found. From afar it looks like a delicate construction, floating white and graceful above the trees; more like an impressive Japanese mansion than a castle. Once you get up close, however, huge stone walls tower above an enormous moat and within them are a whole interconnecting series of fortifications, gateways, parade yards and towers climbing up in sequence to the white keep that floats over it all. And up close too, this is a mighty edifice, with a solid stone base and then six levels constructed entirely of wood and painted white.

Himeji-jo, known as White Egret castle

Himeji-jo, known as White Egret castle


From the inside the entirely wooden construction is much clearer. We also managed to trump even the level of crowding we experienced yesterday. We had to take our shoes off to walk on the wooden floors of the castle itself, and so a thousand people shuffled along an endless snaking queue that started on the ground floor and went all the way up to the sixth floor and all the way back down again. The pungency of the top floor was terrible. Well, hot air rises I suppose. Pew.
Shuffling progress around the castle

Shuffling progress around the castle


Lunch was one of those occasions where you wander around a strange town wondering where they’ve hidden all the restaurants. We ended up in a slightly grubby and cheap looking place in a ghostly down-at-heel shopping mall. And yet the boxes of sea eel on rice that we got were really splendid. So it just goes to show. And to be honest, we haven’t had a single duff meal in Japan so far. Well, except breakfasts. Instead of taking breakfast at our hotels, we’ve chosen to go out for breakfast – a habit I usually think is brilliant, because eating what locals eat is so much more satisfying than identi-kit hotel buffet breakfasts. But somehow we just haven’t been finding… whatever we should be finding… and have tended to end up in coffee shops serving adequate pastries.

Dinner tonight was another hit, a tonkatsu restaurant in Kumamoto – the provincial city in Kyushu that is our next base.

Tonkatsu dinner

Tonkatsu dinner


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