I’ve finally said goodbye to Tomakomai and JET. Bizarrely, I feel somewhat relieved. Maybe, I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. However, before I leave Japan for good, I have one last hurrah. I call it my “Farewell Japan Summer Trip”.
At the time of writing, I’m about two-thirds into my trip, and approaching the final few stops in my itinerary. However, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, because I have so many photos I want to share from this trip. I’m not sure how many parts this travel series would work out to, so please bear with me.
Therefore, the main feature of this travel series would come in the form of short snippets and random musings, rather than a thoughtful (and lengthy) prose. In other words, less text and more images!! So enjoy!!
In my bucket-list of things to accomplish in Japan, one of them is to visit at least one place in each of the 47 prefectures in Japan, from north to south. My current record stands at 28, but by the end of this last trip, I hope to hit 30.
My first stop takes me to Himeji, a city I’ve always wanted to visit because of my fascination (read ‘obsession’) with castles!!
Known as the White Heron Castle or Shirasagi-jo (白鷺城) due to its elegant, white appearance, Himeji Castle (姫路城, Himeji-jō) is one of Japan’s most elegant and beautiful castles. It is also one of the first sites in Japan to be listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
However, I have one regret.
I shouldn’t have chosen summer of all seasons to visit Himeji. In general, August is the month you should do well to avoid Japan (maybe except Hokkaido, because the mercury seldom crosses the 30-degree mark).
This year, however, even Hokkaido was not spared from a massive heat wave that seared the rest of Japan.
Daily temperatures hover in the early 30s. And in Himeji, I was braving 35 degrees and sweating like a pig as I trudged up the uncountable steps in Himeji Castle.
For your info, the castle is six stories high and perched on top of a small fort. Imagine the number of stone steps you would have to climb just to scale this white bird!!
And those were not the only steps I climbed that day. The set of photos featuring Himeji Castle at sundown were taken from a knoll called Otokoyama (男山), a short walk from the park behind Himeji Castle.
After ascending a flight of about 200 stone steps, I found a spot that offered an excellent vista, waited for the sun’s dipping rays to fall on the castle and fed myself to the mosquitoes. Thankfully, the pictures were well worth the sacrifice. LS