A&E on the World Heritage Train East 2009 travel blog

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

Some of the amazing Japanese bonsai

Himeji chrysanthemum (an Erica pic)

Korakuen Gardens

Korakuen Gardeners literally pruning individual pine needles...

Korakuen Gardens

Korakuen Gardens

Korakuen Gardens

Korakuen Gardens

Korakuen Gardens

Korakuen Gardens

Okayama Castle

Our hotel in Okayama, my 'favourite' chain in Japan, convenient in lots...


Today we left Hiroshima. There was always something slightly difficult about being there. There aren`t many explicit reminders of what happened, but the very normality of the place kept making me imagine if a bomb dropped now, what would that be like, and it was always disturbing. I`m definitely not a pacifist, but I do think when violence is necessary it should be up close, personal, and involve those who want to be involved and no-one else.

The bullet trains are such a pleasure, and we`ve been on three today, what a treat. First we went to Okayama to book into our hotel for tonight and dump our luggage, then on the next train to Himeji. Before I came I had heard Himeji Castle was shut for renovation, and I was very dissapointed, as it is widely considered the best castle in Japan. Anyway, it isn`t shut (as I found out a few days ago, and I'm so glad I did), and this reputation turns out to be completely deserved. It is also yet another World Heritage sight, big, impressive, highly attractive and very photogenic in the sun.

Then we whooshed back to Okayama, and got a tram up to the Korakuen Gardens, our second of the 'top three' Japanese gardens. We both liked this one much more than the other `top` one in Kanazawa. It was also very photogenic in the obliging afternoon sun. We followed this with a quick gander at the nearby Okinawa Castle, another black one, although not very fierce as castles go. We also saw some amazing bonsai today at both the gardens and Himeji Castle.

And finally a tram back home to our Toyoko Inn business hotel, and in a shop near us I managed to find a second-hand shirt for under a quid that means I can throw away at least one of the three shirts I have been wearing, all of which have been so eroded by the rigours of independent travel I would be ashamed to wear them on a Saturday night in Somerset, never mind in urban Japan. And tomorrow back to Kyoto!



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