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

Ritsurin Gardens

Tea house in Ritsurin Gardens

Big pine tree at Ritsurin Gardens



Women in Ritsurin Tea house

Baby pine tree at Ritsurin-koen


Breakfast leftovers in another Ritsurin Tea House

Tomonoura street and traditional sake shop sign

Tomonoura lighthouse

Benten-jima, just off Tomonoura

Taigashima-jo, Tomonoura

Tomonoura Street

Trying to fit a lot in today, so I got up early and after porking on the free breakfast and filling up on the free weak coffee, it was off to the third of the main Japanese islands I have visited, and the last for now, as I never made Hokkaido and never intended to go to any of the Okinawan Islands. I missed out Hokkaido as it looked a bit bleak, Okinawa as I reckon if I`m going to do tropical beaches I`ll go somewhere a lot cheaper than Japan.

So I took a train to Takamatsu on Shinkoku, in order to see the Ritsurin Gardens. These were great, and different from any other garden I`ve seen in that as well as being the biggest garden in Japan, it is almost entirely focussed on manicured pines, nearly 30,000 trees in all. Some of them looked absolutely amazing, and I want my garden to have some. There were also some great bonsai, like miniature versions of these pruned pines (I watched the guy picking needles off them with tweezers), very reasonable price. but of course they wouldn`t travel well, and anyway, my bonsai always die.

Originally I had been planning to move on to the Naruto Whirlpools, where boats take you right up to the edge of the whirlpools, as they have been doing for centuries, but a little internet research appraised me of the fact that they are sometimes far from dramatic, and today the tides were such that this was one of those days. Disappointing, but not half as much as it would haev been if I hadn`t found out till I was at sea. So the morning having been pleasantly taken up by admiring pine trees, I went off instead with the JR pass to Fukuyama to get a bus to Tomonoura, like a Japanese St. Ives with lots of temples (and a proper fishing fleet). It was very quaint, relaxing and pretty, not as many Japanese tourists as normal, despite it being a Sunday.

Back at the Toyoko=Inn I borrowed a laptop off them so I can do some serious research about where to go next. It looks like I have roughly a couple of weeks spare. I have found some very cheap flights to the Phillipines, but don`t know if I can face humidity again when the weather has only just become bearable the last few days. I am missing home and everyone as well, especially my kids, but I will bear up, resist the urge to go home, and gad about while I still can, as I don`t have to be at work again till December.

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