Amparo Bertram (spacealien_vamp) wrote,
Amparo Bertram

Castles and temples and shrines, oh my!

Monday morning we headed out to Hikone to see the castle, which is celebrating its 400th year. We walked through the museum they set up showing the history of the castle. They had a number of hands-on things to get visitors interested, including a suit of armor that people can wear. (megory plans on making a huge blow-up of this picture to hang in her classroom to show students what will happen if they don't do their homework...) Another display allowed visitors to ride a plastic horse in front of a blue screen depicting scenes of the castle.

After seeing the museum, we walked through the garden and then stumbled up many many steps to the castle. megory took advantage of the convenient walking stick lending service at the gate.

Tuesday we went to Kyoto to visit Ginkakuji, one of the places my parents had not yet gone. I had been there years before, but there were a few changes I noticed. For one thing, they have a table set up with many different types of moss on display, showing which kinds are "valuable," "slightly annoying," or "very annoying." (They all just looked like moss to me...) Also, they changed the restroom. It used to be set up in front of a bamboo forest, with benches in front of the (open) doors. Now that area is used as seating for a small tea house, and the restroom is on the opposite side of the gift store.

From there we went on to Yasaka Shrine, where it was bustling with activity due to the Gion Festival. There were many people in traditional costumes, and there was a stage where various performances were being held. For example, there was a group playing traditional drums. [Note: This file plays perfectly fine when I open it with Media Player Classic, but it goes all wonky when I open it with Windows Media Player. I have no clue why.]

After that, we walked around the shopping district for a while. We tried to get Harry Potter at Kinokuniya, but they were sold out. We went back to the Gion area to watch the parade that was the main event for the day. We saw people in various costumes as well as a group setting up a mikoshi (portable shrine), but we didn't want to hang around another hour in the blazing sun until the main body of the parade got to us, so we went home.

Wednesday we went farther afield to see Himeji Castle, a two-hour train ride from Moriyama. (There was a large bookstore in Himeji Station with two whole aisles of English books...but they were also sold out of Harry Potter.) After spending the morning exploring the large castle, we went to Osaka Station. We had originally planned to see Osaka Castle, but it was getting late, plus it was crowded with both rush hour traffic and people coming for the fireworks festival that evening, so we just strolled around the underground shopping area for a while before heading home.

The plan is to take it easy and hang out in Moriyama for the next couple days.
Tags: sightseeing
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