Saturday, 8 November 2008

Kyoto - Day 2 - Himeji

It was a relatively easy wake up this morning at 7am. The hotel breakfast is pretty complete but watching the Japanese eat brocolli, miso soup and tofu for breakfast is very weird. I'll stick to my croissants and eggs thanks!

We head off to the station for a metro and a train via Osaka/Kobé on our way to Himeji.

While the Japanese people I met had no idea where Belgium was, it seems our famous waffles have made it to Kyoto!

And check out the lotto apron worn by this woman. Loved it.

Our first glimpse of the castle from the road is stunning, through the trees you can get a glimpse of the huge building and it is beautiful.

And off come the shoes! We get indoor sandals as replacements and get to carry our shoes around with us in a plastic bag. Very elegant! Believe it or not, upon exit, the bags are placed in a basket and some poor soul spends all day cleaning the bags for re-use.

Inside the castle...

I notice something while walking through the castle grounds... look familiar to you?

The Japanese are obsessed by the V for Victory sign and will not have a photo taken without it!!!

After visiting the castle, we head over to a very dodgy looking cafeteria for some lunch.
No menu per say, just the traditional evil looking plastic replicas of the dishes in a window at the entrance of the restaurant. The Japanese like doing this, I'm assuming it is more for our (- the tourists) benefit than the locals, but what they fail to realise is that while these plastic dishes can looking quite appetising, if they are cheap and nasty, they look absolutely revolting.

Anyway, most of us opt for a safe, beef and rice dish... BIG MISTAKE!!!!
Not managing to eat more than a couple of mouthfuls, what I did eat then proceeded to make me as sick as a dog and I spent most of that eve and the next day with my head down the oh so technically advanced hotel room toilet.

(I had taken a pic of my dish but as it made me queasy every time I saw it, it was rapidly deleted from my Nikon, however check out the faces of the group, it should give you a good idea.)

Onwards to the Koko-En garden for a stunning walk amongst all shades of green, red and yellow. I was subject to slight uneasiness for the first part of this garden as I seemed to be being followed by a very strange individual with a ridiculously scary pair of dentures!!! Harmless but freaky all the same. There were quite a few people around but them being all Japanese, it didn't really feel out of place.

The weather is not great today, and the light is poor, but I click away in every direction trying in vain to capture the beauty of this place. It is not so warm either and after a somewhat bizarre coffee break in a nearby coffee shop, we wait in the freezing wind for our red bus to take us back to the station. We all enjoy a little shut eye on the train journey back to Kyoto.

Arrival back at the station around dinner time and most of the group are looking for somewhere to eat. We are shown an underground shopping mall and food court in the station and while others look at the ever increasing plastics dishes on offer and licking their lips, I am feeling very queasy and can no longer stand the sight or more importantly smell of food.

This is the thing, the 'smell of Japan' - as I dubbed it - is everywhere. You cannot escape it.
Due mostly to the fact that there are places to eat at every corner, the smell is omnipresent and at this precise point in time, it is making me so unbelievably nauseous.

Sis and I head back to the hotel. I feel I should try and eat something, anything... So we sit on the terrace of Starbucks and have a coffee. It helps - I know it shouldn't but it does. I even feel the desire for a sandwich which I find quite tasty. We go out for a quick stroll and then head off to bed. We have an early start tomorrow.

I hoped for a quiet long night. No such luck. I am up half the night making rush visits to our tiny cabin barfroom.

Fave pics of the day...

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