Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shrines, Castles, Bicycles, Islands, Trains. and Food

The magnificent torri gate at Miyajima
We're on the small island of Miyajima, close to Hiroshima, and it's hard to believe that just one week ago we had our first full day of sightseeing in Kyoto.  But we've covered a lot of ground, seen a lot, and (as always) have eaten a lot.

A volunteer guide at the
Hiroshima station who
spent 30 minutes helping
us to find a storage place
for our bags.  He's an
engineer with Masda.
We thought Japan would be difficult to navigate, not knowing the language and the writing.  However, our biggest pleasant surprise is just how easy it is to get around.  The transportation system and tourist infrastructure is quite impressive.  We love the trains! While the people aren't outgoing, when asked they will take extraordinary measures to help us, even if they can't speak a word of English.

The amazing Himeji castle

Our last post closed with a photo of the amazing Himeji Castle, built in the 1600s.  We've seen a few castles in our day, but this one takes the cake.  It's worth a trip to Japan just to see this. We have a few extra photos of it included in the link at the bottom of this post.

Our stay in Himeji was in the 12-story Dormy Inn, a popular chain among the Japanese, about about the cost of a Portland budget airport hotel.  It included a wonderful anson, which consisted of hot spring pools and a sauna on the roof.  No swimsuits or tattoos allowed, but they were sex segregated. We could wander about the hotel and go to breakfast in the PJs and slippers they provided us.

We took a day trip to the town of Kuashiki, which had a well-preserved
A traditional residential street in Kuashiki
traditional Japanese village within it.  The beauty, clean lines, and quiet were a welcome contrast to the visual clutter and noise of most Japanese cities.

The 3-mile Kurusima bridge.  The circle at
the first tower is the bicycle ramp
So far, the highlight of the trip has been the Onomichi area, where we bicycled on bicycle routes and lanes over bridges to different islands.  Kathy came down with a cold and only cycled the first day.  I rented a serious road bike for the second day and had the most enjoyable 46 miles on a bike in my life, in spite of the hills and a missed ferry connection.  Many parts of the route were among fragrant lemon orchards.  We stayed in a re-purposed warehouse, called Hotel Cycle.  The whole theme was bikes and cycling, with bike racks right at the reception desk.  More photos are in the link at the bottom.

The bike ramp to the Kurusima bridge

Tonight is our last night before we meet up with members of our 12-day Sierra Club hiking tour in Kyushu.  We're in a quaint roykan, which is a small traditional Japanese Inn.  Now that all the tourists have taken the ferry back to Hiroshima, it's very quite here. Our host prepared a stunning seven-course meal for us.  The torii gate, pictured at the top of this post is rated as one of the top three most scenic sights in Japan.  It was built in the late sixth century and remodeled in 1168.

Our trip to Kyushu (the largest southern island in Japan) will be our last chance to ride the amazing Shinkoshan, the so-called bullet train.  Be sure to check out our video clip of Japan at 200 mph within the link below.  Enjoy!

Link to photos: 

1 comment:

  1. Clicking on the link doesn't work. However, copying and pasting into a browser does. Great pictures.