The train rolls into Himeji and it’s a straight shot down the main drag to the Castle perched on the hill. Along the walk there are a number of naked sculptures of women. That’s an interesting motif for the city. The last one is wearing clothes and wonder woman boots. What does it meeeeean?!
Whoa this is cool
We stumble upon a food fair or something in a large square close to the castle and decide to step in. There are vendors of every type trying to sell us on their nummies. Some of the booths are local beer places and there are a bunch of sake ones too. Sweet!
We get learned on some hot and cold sake and grab some to go.
One of the vendors sees us browsing and says, “Yakisoba! Jabanese comfort food!”
Alright, I’m sold on that. We grab some and some spicy chicken. Wash it down with sake, bomb.
Fueled up, it’s castle time! A massive gate gets you onto the grounds where there is a huge lawn with helium balloons and lanterns. I guess there’s a light exhibit here in the evenings. I bet that looks rad af.
Above the grounds is the castle itself and it is damned impressive!
There used to be a fort up there in 1333, it was remodeled into a castle in 1346 and then upgraded to this beautiful beast in 1581.
We scoot up the hill and enter the castle. All wood interior with sunlight crossing the floors from small open windows. There are hidden doors and passageways everywhere. You can just imagine getting ambushed by a host of sneaky samurai busting through the walls during your failed assassination attempt.
The wooden beams are fashioned with these massive bolts that have heart designs on them.
A staircase in the middle takes us up up up to the roof. Woot! Good view and some fish gilding the edges. We walk around and get a great panorama of the surroundings.
Somehow the castle survived the extensive bombing of the city in WW2.
Super rad model of the castle and walled city.
We descend back through the castle to the exterior again.
Outside there is a sign for a photo op that leads out onto a large sand courtyard. Yep, good spot for a pic. Time to bust out the selfie stick
We go back down the path and detour into the garden area.
This is just incredible. Guaranteed to be the only place on the planet with a sight like this.
The gardens are immaculate. There are a number of banzai tree displays. Mini forests. Me want dis.
The old living quarters are along a long building on the outskirts of the garden. We thought we’d seen everything we came to see but there is a whole exhibit in here dedicated to the extraordinary and dramatic life of Princess Sen and her love of disco!
I want this in my living room above the record player.
These installations are nuts
Princess Sen was the first to introduce EDM and rave culture to the Himeji Samurai. Their deep house and dubstep dance parties are etched in the timeless soundscape of the multiverse. Their use of disco balls on the floor was unprecedented.
This piece was spinning above a fan.
“Should we do the acid here?”, “Oh yeah definitely. Let’s scarf these shrooms too.”
And then we sat incapacitated by the visuals in this room for the next 6 hours.
Oh c’mon you said that on installation #5.
A sign nearby describes how this massive door was kept locked and guarded to keep the sexual harassment of Sen and her handmaids at bay.
More surreal, trippy installations. These are kind of amazing. Also, there’s no one over here looking at them. Hundreds of people in the castle missing out. A dozen over here.
Then at the end of the long hall I get a look out the window to possibly the best view of the castle we’ve seen all day, capturing the walled path up the hill and the gardens just below. It’s so good I can’t even fit it all in the shot.
Badass. That’s 2 Samurai castles down! Quick look at the clock and if we sprint back to the station we can just make the next train. GooooO!
We race back passed the naked women statues, excuse me excuse me down the street and get to the ticket office. An android greets us at the door. I don’t have time for you, robot! There’s a line. We need a ticket. Ahhhhh there’s no chance. Ok, well let’s go see what that robot is all about. It speaks Japanese. I think it just greets people as it senses them passing
We get to the counter and the guy says we can’t get on the next train and there are only 2 seats left on the one after. The seats aren’t together. Whatever, we’ll take it. Thanks.
Ok well we’ve got about an hour to kill now. We backtrack into town and go to a spot we dashed passed earlier called Farmer’s Daughter for snacks and beer. They also have a little android guy with a motion sensor that talks to you when you walk by. What’s happening in Himeji? Can you order from this thing? We get some pickled goodies and nuts and chill for a bit.
Back at the train station there’s a bin of these Himeji Castle mascots. Awwwwww jeeeez. We somehow refrain from getting one. We get some bento boxes for the ride. Will probably be good with our to go sake from the fair.
We get down to the tracks and the bullet trains are whizzing by. Only takes a couple of seconds. Just enough time to cause a gust of wind to flip your hair up then have it settle. Ours pulls in and we grab our seats. They’re just across the aisle from one another. A business guy sees we’re together and offers to trade seats. That’s nice.
Get a tiny bit of blogging in. Uploading pics using the Wi-Fi box is slowing me down but the scenery flashing by and some train beers is relaxing. Put on the War on Drugs new album. Ultimate travel music. Next Stop: Hiroshima!