There is little doubt that Himeji Castle is the best castle to visit in Japan About three years ago, the renovation of Himeji Castle was announced in order to preserve the castle for future generations, and to pass on the old methods to the future generations for whenever the next renovation will be needed. The renovation began in April of 2010, and is scheduled to last about 5 years. At present, the renovation is about half-way completed. After seeing a special on NHK about the renovation on Himeji Castle which grabbed my interest, I decided to visit myself to find out how things are progressing. Read more on “Himeji Castle Renovations” »
The late Edo Period and early Meiji Period (approximately 1855 to 1875) was a very chaotic time in Japan and Kyoto. In 1854, the Tokugawa Shogunate was accused by fuedal lords around Japan of caving in to demands from Commodore Perry to open the harbors to American whaling ships. This was seen as an act of weakness, and many people began to call for the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the reinstatement of the emperor of Japan as the supreme power of the land. Read more on “Shinsengumi – Peace Keepers or Assassins?” »
One of the biggest misconceptions about Japan we run into commonly is the idea that food in Japan is very expensive. While some things such as fruit are much more expensive (but usually much better), there are many things that are not. And there are many things you can do to save money dining out while you are in Japan. After all, you’ve got to ask yourself: the per capita income in Japan is a little lower than in America. If food was so expensive, how could the Japanese live on that income. (Then again, maybe that’s why there are so many thin Japanese.) But seriously, there are things you can do to cut costs, and still enjoy the wonderful Japanese food. The secret is simple: do as the Japanese do. Read more on “10 Ways to Save Money While Dining Out in Japan” »
Today was our free day in Kyoto. I have to be honest, I just came down with a nasty cold, so I spent most of the day relaxing in our room. However, in our itineraries, we provide lots of information of fun things you can do with your free time. Tonight, we had our sayonara dinner at a very nice restaurant, which had a beautiful garden. The type of cuisine was Shabu-Shabu, which is were you put some very thinly sliced meat (pork for us) in a pot of boiling water, and it only takes seconds to cook. Then we put it in a delicious thin sauce. It was very tasty.
Today was also a busy, packed schedule of wonderful sites to see. First thing in the morning after breakfast, we all headed toward Fushimi to see the Inari Shrine. It was a very large place, with lots of color (mostly orange). There seemed to be noticeably more attendants at this particular shrine, as well as a drumming song and dance performed (no pictures were allowed here, but it was very different and beautiful). We walked up a little further and saw the huge row of torii gates, all donated by different people and organizations. It is like you are walking through a tunnel of torii gates almost. Also, a famous scene from Memoirs of a Geisha was filmed here with the torii gates. Also at the entrance of this shine, they have two foxes for protection there, which was different from what we have seen at other shrines (normally we see lions).
Today was a very fun-filled and packed day! We started the day at the Ryoan-ji, which is known for their rock garden. In this particular garden, there are 15 rocks in raked sand. When sitting on the deck, only 14 rocks can be seen at one time. You can try to move and see the one that is hidden, but once it is in view, the other one disappears. There are many meanings and interpretations to this, and we are encouraged to use our creativity. Also in Buddhism, the number 15 means completeness. There was also very peaceful and beautiful scenery here.