Shouting into the Storm Rantings, ramblings, observations and musings from the insipid to the sublime

Japan - Day 5

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 :::
Today it's Castle Comparison Day in Kyoto.

We walked up to Nijo Castle here in Kyoto. Three years ago, they had it setup with lights at night, with zen like flute music piped through. It was spectacular. I visited again later in the trip on roughly 3 hours of sleep. Figured it would be a nice chance to see it again with a clear head. While the castle was every bit as impressive as I remembered it, there really wasn't anything new. Gladis suggested we get some perspective by heading out to the city of Shiga and Hikone Castle. More train hoping ensued, but it was enjoyable to see more of the countryside.

After a bowl of udon for lunch, we cabbed it up to the castle. The castle overlooks one of Japan's great lakes. I'm a big fan of large bodies of water, and this one did not disappoint. You could make out the other side, but very faintly. The castle itself wasn't as impressive as Nijo. Pretty much only one tower to explore, which had incredibly steep stairs. That said, the grounds were awe-inspiring. Large open sections of land, a gorgeous path through a plum grove. At one point Gladis commented how New England-esque it all seemed. Right until the PA system started to blare calming music with a high-pitched Japanese voice over it. It was the "We're closing soon, get the hell out" signal. On the walk around the back of the castle we saw a few swans swimming in the moat.

Uneventful train ride home, and Bikuri Donkey(translation: Surprise! Donkey!) for dinner. For those unfamiliar with this, it is a place dedicated to all things salsbury steak. Mine was topped with pineapple slices, with tacoyaki as an appetizer.

To top the day off, we went for a very late night soak at the sento. It was much more crowded, but also much more social. Plenty of chatter and laughing. My favorite is still the outdoor tubs, followed by sitting in the open air and, well, radiating heat. Even in the cool night air, it was enjoyable. The sento here has a snack bar, and it was soft-serve ice cream cones to end the day. Shouldn't everyone have that as the end of the day?

::: posted by Chris at 10:55 AM

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