Saturday, June 28, 2008

Day 11 (Sunday, June 8)

I like history. One of my more annoying habits is that I bring up historical trivia and weave it into conversations when I can. When I lived in Japan, I studied Japanese history. This proved one thing: I could be annoying in two languages.

Day 11 would be a day for history. On this day, the four of us and Cousin Mina went to Himeji to see Himeji Castle. Himeji was just under an hour's ride by express train from Osaka. (It's only 15 minutes by bullet train.) However, we still had one day left on our Japan Rail Pass, so at least it was free.

Those of you reading may not have heard of Himeji, but you’ve probably seen it. Himeji was featured in the movies The Last Samurai and You Only Live Twice. Its claim to fame, though, is the castle. The number of castles in Japan is more than a hundred. Most of them, as I wrote a couple of days ago, have been destroyed and rebuilt. Only seven, I think, remain. Himeji Castle is one of those and considered the best or the original ones. The castle is also referred to as the "white heron castle," as it is believed to resemble a white heron in flight.

Walking around the outside steps up to the castle entrance.

My boys loved the castle, particularly the old-style armors on display.

Of course, Christopher, the ninja wannabe, found something he particularly liked.
My wife, her cousin, and I enjoyed the castle as well. We all walked to the top to see the view. The steps were steep, and I had difficulty climbing them. The overhangs were low and I was amazed I didn’t hit my head on something going up. On the top floor of the castle was a shrine. The boys got in line, remembered what the old man had taught them two days ago in Tokyo, and made the appropriate gestures. An old woman noted their actions and nodded at me, as if to compliment me on my parenting skills.

Here we are enjoying treats afterwards.

No comments: