Himeji, 2016

Himeji Castle is located in the heart of the Kansai region. I first visited Himeji back in 1997 and it was a cold and wet day. Later visits were always sunny and warm, which is the best way to see the castle, since it’s almost pure white and a deep blue sky in the background makes for great contrast. Our trip there yesterday yielded both results: it was rainy on our approach and sunny as we exited. It was so rainy on the walk from Himeji Eki (eki means station), I had to stop in a Family Mart and pick up three umbrellas. I opted for the clear ones, so we could hold them directly over our heads and shoulders and still see what was in front of us. As soon as we got to the castle grounds the rain stopped and those umbrellas became mini greenhouses, quickly heating up the air around our faces. It was still quite cloudy, and very humid, so the white castle got a bit lost in the sky behind it. Nonetheless we marched on, taking pictures all the way (because who knows when we’ll be back?). Once we got to the main entrance, it was full-on jungle hot so I hid the umbrellas on top of a bank of coin lockers — too high for all the locals to see — and we went in. Now here I must confess: I’d never seen most of the interior of the castle before. There are multiple places where visitors must remove their shoes and I’d always been wearing sandals; they wouldn’t let me in barefoot. I wore sandals yesterday, too, but I also brought along a pair of socks in my pocket, just so I could finally see the inside! What did I see as soon as I was inside? A bunch of dudes walking around barefoot…

So anyway, seeing the inside of the castle was amazing. I hadn’t realized how many steps there were! The stairs were almost vertical, and there were easily a dozen sets to climb, with each level getting smaller and smaller until we reached the top. By the time we got to the top floor, some two hundred feet above the courtyard, it was blazing hot and the view was stupendous. The sun had appeared and the whole castle popped out of the blue sky. Exiting, I had to re-shoot all the pictures I’d taken on the way in, since the backdrop was now much better. Here are a few photos. The first one was shot with my iPhone; I believe that’s the last photo I’ll ever take with that phone so I’m glad I emailed it to people and had a copy saved in my Sent Mail folder.

Himeji pano

Himeji pano

Matt at Himeji

Matt at Himeji

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle

 

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