Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Breaching the Defences of Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is meant to be the best representative of Japanese Castles, and also supposedly resembles a white heron. So we decided to stop in Himeji, and view this castle, on our way to Kyoto from Hiroshima. The Lonely Planet recommends about 3 or 4 hours in Himeji, and that’s about as long as we spent.
It was a very easy walk, straight out of the station, up to the castle. We followed the crowds, and about half way down the road we could see the castle, so we knew we were heading in the right direction.
The castle itself is surrounded by 2 lots of gardens, and a moat (though in the olden days there were 3 moats!) So after coming through the first garden we paid our admission, and went into the inner gardens, before going into the castle (or as the boys said, breaching the castle’s defences).
All the sakura were out, and as you can imagine, there were tourists galore! As each floor in the castle gets progressively smaller we were lucky that the tour groups didn’t start coming in until after we left. Though, that may have had something to do with our early start that day, so we beat them!
The stairs inside the castle were so steep – I’m not sure defensive troops could have rushed up or down considering the armour they had to wear! Maybe that’s why there were little rooms on each level for soldiers to sit in, and pour boiling oil out the windows.
The first couple of floors had most of the artifacts from when the castle was in use, but as we climbed higher it was all about the view, which was pretty spectacular.
After reaching the top, we turned around and had to go down the stairs – which was harder than going up, given how steep they were. Then we had lunch, and watched some baseball before getting a Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto.