I made plans with my buddy and a group of people to go to Himeji Castle last Saturday, but it ended up being a very rainy day. Luckily we were all very determined to go despite the rain! However, at a certain point the rain become so heavy that I just couldn’t risk having my camera out any more.
I intend to go back (at least once again) on a clear day so I can get spend more time exploring outside, and, of course, take better photos. There is a beautiful park surrounding the castle, as well as a shrine that I haven’t visited yet. Luckily, we each received a very convenient “Hyogo Prefecture Culture Pass” which allows us to go to most temples and other cultural sites for free, although usually it would cost a few hundred yen to get inside.
Here are my photos!
Here is what the big scaffolding/tent looks like! It has a picture of the castle printed on the front. Also, the windows you see towards the top are the windows I’m looking out of in some of the photos further down!
Everything is constructed using these beautiful stones.
Inside of a little side-house there was a collection of objects recovered during the restoration that are being kept as historical artifacts.
Beautiful hand-carved wood decorations that hang from doorways and roofs.
My buddy Yuka! I joked that her very Japanese-style umbrella fit well in the setting.
A spooky well that apparently contains the ghost of a disobedient woman. At night you can hear her voice coming from the well!
Lining up to enter the scaffolding structure and see the restoration!
The uppermost roof of the castle, with the tiles restored!
Can you even imagine how many hand-carved tiles are on this castle?
A lower-roof part undergoing the restoration process.
We were also very lucky that an extremely kind Ojiisan (elderly gentlemen), who works as a volunteer at the Castle got very excited to meet a bunch of Americans and proceeded to give us an exclusive tour of the restoration area. He told us loads of extra information and was incredibly kind. He clearly knew a lot about the Castle and it’s history and I felt like it really added a lot to the experience to have someone direct us to the most important bits of information, and tell us about the castle with such enthusiasm. Something he said that stuck in my mind is, “See the way the lines of the roof are not quite straight, but slightly curved? That’s what makes Japanese castles so beautiful.” At the end he gave us each a little origami shuriken, which I keep on my desk next to my computer now. 🙂
Although it was rainy, the castle was really beautiful. I can’t wait to go back!
This weekend there is a lot going on! On Friday~Saturday, we will be going to Kasai (the city next door to Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture, to the northeast), to a rural (里山) area. We’re staying at a Sanso (“Mountain Retreat”) where we will enjoy an Onsen (bath!) as well as Mochitsuki (mochi-pounding!), among other very exciting activities. I hope to take tons of photos are share them next week. On Sunday and Monday there is a Yukata Matsuri (a festival where people dress in traditional clothing, called a Yukata), which I hope to attend as well.