Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kyoto Trip Day 2

One of the big missions (for Mike) to come to Kyoto this time was to see the Himeji Castle, which is at Himeji, an hour further away from Kyoto by Shinkensen; therefore, we made sure we DID go to visit this biggest castle in Japan on the second day of our Kyoto trip.

Second day - Himeji (姫路城)

Himeji Castle is the biggest castle in Japan. The whole city of Himeji was built because of this castle.

It turned out that the outer part of the Himeji Castle was a lot more impressive than the inner part (will tell you why in a second).
So... Mike took extra shots of its outer awesome looks to make the admission fee that we paid worthy.

There are many doors and gateways in the caslte. Kind of fun to walk around and pass through.

Guess the people in the old times were much shorter than a white guy nowadays, huh?! =)

The only part that was opened for public in the castle is its central tower. In order to get in, everyone has to take off their shoes, wear the provided shared slippers, and CARRY THEIR OWN shoes the whole time!!! (yea, did I tell you that Japanese people are obsessed with rules and processes?!?!)

The inner of the tower was this 5 story wooden tower. Even though they re-constructed the tower so that it can be open to public, much of its structure was un-altered, including the wood used to built the thing. Therefore, they didn't let too much light into the tower, since that might destroy the old woods. As a result, much of the tower was very dark and gave people a grim feeling...

A model of the reconstructure of the castle tower, in the scale of 1:20.

Weapons.... very old ones....

All the stairs in the tower were very steep. Mike's theory was that since the Japanese people were so short in the old times that they had a much lower center of gravity; therefore, they could still balance well with all these steep stairs. (i.e. On the other hand, Mike didn't balance that well on them) =p

You can see a lot of unrested spirits died from the war period running through the dark hallways of the castle. Don't worry, they are usually very quiet and just give you a cool chill.

J/k - the truth is Mike messed up this picture and created all these "special effects". Though... I wonder if there were really spirits remained in the castle, they would....

The sharp contrast between the darkness inside the wooden tower and the brightness outside created these seemingly "glamorous" shots =)

At the very top of the tower is this small resting room that you can see the pretty view of the surrounding areas of the castle. However, as you can see, it's SMALL and thus is crowded with all the other tourists.

View from the tower top windows.

The boundary of the Himeji Castle was pretty, surrouding by a river; a bit similar to the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

Koko-en 好古園 (Ko Garden)

Though Himeji Castle was a bit of a small disappointment, we discovered a nice surprise next to the castle, Koko-en, a spendid, must-see garden for any serious Japanese garden freaks.

Koko-en is split into nine main gardens based on the Edo period style.

Why am I holding an umberlla? Well... no, raining... I forgot to bring my sunblock and don't want to be a fried BBQ pork at the end of the day.... =p

I love these small stones across the shallow river band. I kept running back and forth on them and almost couldn't stop.

Tiny door for tiny people....?

My favorite garden of the nine - the Bamboo Garden!!! Love its simplicity and.... greeness!!!


We took a slow train back from Himeji back to Kyoto which took about an hour and a half. I was sleeping the whole way ;)

We grabbed a quick bite near the Kyoto station and walked around a bit. Saw the Kyoto Tower at night.

The conclusion of the day is that - I think I like English castles much more than Japanese castles. =)

No comments: