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Mount Shoya and Himeji Castle

Himeji Travel Blog

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Osaka City Public House

For the last day of my trip, my intention was to visit Himeji and hopefully stop at Kobe on the way back to Osaka.  I decided after failing on the 20th in Shanghai, I first wanted to stop by the US Consulate to get my second set of additional passport pages.  The consulate was a short distance from my hotel, and I was being frisked and emptying everything out of my bag (should have just left the entire bag!) by 9:30.  Dropped off my passport and application and around 10:15 I got my passport back with 23 more pages to use…should last me through the expiration 2011 (last set was in 2006 but I did more travel over the past two years than I expect in the next three…at least for work.)

 

Walked down past the Osaka city hall in order to get to the Yodoyabashi station and made it to Osaka station in time to catch the 11AM train to Himeji.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge

 

Got to Himeji station at noon and stopped at the info desk where they gave me the info on the castle and Mount Shoya and when I asked, they suggested I go to Mount Shoya first if I wanted to do both.  I knew it was a 30 minute bus ride from the station to the mountain, so I hopped over to the bus terminal across the street and caught the 12:20 bus to Mount Shoya.  I arrived in time to catch the 1:00 cable car to the top…well, at least to where it leaves off…

 

From the cable car station at Mount Shoya to where Shoshazan-Engyoji Tempe is located is still around a 1.5km walk, mostly uphill.  Just to say how strenuous it can be…an (much) older gentleman who was on the cable car with me on the way up was still climbing when I passed on the way back around 1.

Engyoji Temple
5 hours later!

 

Now if you’re wondering, Shoshazan-Engyoji Tempe is an old temple from AD 966.  Most impressive of the buildings here are Maniden Temple and the Three Temples cluster of Daikodo, Jogyodo and Jikido.  Most of the important treasures are only visible for a few days each year, and this was not one of those days.  What this area is most known for these days, however, is the location where The Last Samurai was filmed.

 

Walking around the complex took quite a bit longer than expected, and I didn’t head back down the mountain until the 2:30 cable car and didn’t make it to Himeji Castle until close to 3:30.  At this point, I knew I had no chance of making it to a sake brewery in Kobe, and likely not to the earthquake memorial either, so I decided to take my time in Himeji and save Kobe for a future visit.

Himeji Castle
  I’m glad I did because Himeji castle was quite a place to visit.

 

Himeji castle was initially started in the 1300’s, with the main complex it’s famous for today coming in the 16th century.  In 1993, Himeji joined Horyuji Temple as Japan’s second selected World Cultural History Site.  The castle deserves this honor.  The castle itself is, in effect, original (some restorations have occurred).  Most other buildings and temples have suffered damage from fire or bombing, but Himeji seems to have been unscathed over the years.  And it is an amazing sight to behold.  In it’s heyday, Himeji was one of the most fortified building ever made, and it’s fortifications have never been breached in war.

 

For anyone taking the tour, I suggest including the West Bailey section of the tour and not heading directly to the main tower.

Himeji Castle
  Seeing some of the defenses explained in the Bailey help explain how well the castle was protected.

 

This should be a stop on anyone’s tour of Japan!

 

Took the train back from Himeji and made a return stop to Fugetsu for another Okonomiyaki before heading back to the Netherlands on Saturday.  The last three days have included quite a lot of walking, but also quite a lot of much needed sleep…in my opinion, an excellent three-day holiday!

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Osaka City Public House
Osaka City Public House
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge
Engyoji Temple
Engyoji Temple
Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle
Himeji
photo by: tj1777