And on to Hikone

Just a quickie today. I’m actually paying for this Internet Access for once. Am in Hikone, which has one of the four castles designated as National Treasures. Matsumoto was one of them (been there, done that) and Himeji I’ll get to next week sometime. I won’t make the fourth because I’d have to backtrack, and well, I don’t want to do that. If I knew it was there, I would have gone to visit it when I was in the area. Bugger.

The castle wasn’t that great. I preferred Matsumoto castle. This one had things like chicken wire over the windows and a few other “modern” bits to make it safer. The grounds also weren’t tended all that well. Perhaps if I was here in Cherry Blossom time, it might be better but now, although the castle looks great, the grounds look run down.

I think I might start paying for the more expensive trains soon, yesterday it took about 5 hours to get here. With about 3 changes, which wasn’t too bad. The rail system is excellent but the local trains don’t have toilets or food available. (Think of going from Sydney to Newcastle on a suburban Tangara, all stations, and back again for 5 hours with a few stops here and there to change trains.) The countryside is really different. When I get home it’ll be a culture shock I think.

Everywhere I go though, they say their castle is the best castle in Japan. Kanazawa did that, and their castle had burnt down a hundred years ago and just had the gatehouse left. I mean, it might, once, a long time ago been the best. But now it’s a pile of stones and foundation markers. But a very impressive pile of stones and foundation markers.

Anyway, I’m staying in this business hotel that’s not too expensive. I almost died when I saw how big the room was (that is, for Japan, at the price I’m paying, it’s a big room) but I lose out in the bathroom, which I’ll have to take a photo of, because it takes the cake for small.

There is a Chinese resturant here I was going to have dinner at last night, because I really, really wanted some Chinese style dumplings. But all the models of the food in the display window looked just like Japanese food, with slight variations. The dumplings looked like gozen (Japanese dumplings, which although nice, don’t compare to somewhere like Sea Bay in Sydney.)

Some of the product names here are really weird. There’s a chocolate bar called Crunky, which I think is supposed to be crunchy and chunky. It’s crunchy alright, but not chunky. It’s like a Nestle Crunch Bar, with the rice bubbles. I found another one today though, called Creap. It’s Creamy Powder for coffee. I took a photo of it on the shelf at the supermarket. I might have to buy some to bring home. Here you go Mum, have a jar of Creap.

Tomorrow I’ll make use of my JR pass and catch the shinkansen down to Kyoto, grab some accommodation and then bugger off to Nara for the day. Then do Kyoto for a day or two, and then go to Osaka. In Osaka I’ll do a day trip to Tarakazuka (where the Osamu Tezuka museum is, the guy who did Astroboy,) and then off to Yokohama the see their Garden (one of the top three, along with Kanazawa and somewhere else.) Then Hiroshima, and maybe a ferry down to the island of Kyushu, depending on where it’ll drop me off.

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