March 27, 2006 part 1 – Himeji Castle (again)

Himeji mom

I picked up my parents early in the morning outside Hotel Miwa in Numazu. We were setting off for 4 days of sightseeing in western Japan before returning to Numazu. My parents liked the hotel so much that we booked a room for them when we returned to Numazu. The staff seemed really happy that my parents had enjoyed their stay so much, and not in just a “hooray, repeat business” kind of way. Hotel Miwa is a fantastic place which I would recommend highly!

My parents had learned from their first trip to Japan, and had packed much lighter for their return. The first time they had a bag with a shoulder strap that we referred to as “the green bag of doom” which seemed to weigh about 900kg, as well as some large suitcases. This time they had small bags and backpacks which made for a much more enjoyable experience.

We walked to Numazu station and took Tokaido line to Mishima. While on the shinkansen platform we enjoyed breathtaking views of a snow covered Mt. Fuji before catching the train to Shin-Osaka, with Himeji as our final destination. I don’t travel on the shinkansen often by myself, so I’m always amazed at how quiet and smooth the ride is. We blasted across the countryside at over 250km/h, watching the coastline and cities whiz by the windows.

We arrived at Himeji in time for lunch. While we were standing outside the station deciding where to eat, a friendly Japanese woman approached and asked in English if we were lost. I explained that we were just trying to decide where to eat, and she lept into action, running to the nearby information desk to find out where the station restaurants were located. She apologized sincerely for not being able to recommend one of the restaurants personally.

I have found that Japanese people, especially the ones who can speak English, are almost universally helpful to tourists. They seem to be especially helpful to middle aged tourists like my parents, who have been treated like royalty since landing at Narita.

Unfortunately the restaurant we chose was busy and not nearly as friendly as the nice lady we met outside the station (which is rare), but we still enjoyed a good meal and set out for the castle.

I have been to Himeji castle before, and it is still just as breathtaking the second time. My parents were blown away by the size of the castle, which dominates the view from the station. We spent a few hours exploring the huge castle grounds and the interior of the castle.

"Beware of bird poop"

“Beware of bird poop”

I could visit Himeji castle over and over without getting bored; there is just so much to see and enjoy. It was a bit of a letdown to walk away from the beautiful castle towards the station. We boarded the shinkansen again bound for Osaka, which would be our home for the next few days. Good bye Himeji!

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