Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hikone Castle: Guns, Horns, and Stairs

Who is this happy boy, and why is he wearing a samurai helmet ?

Because he got to visit Hikone Castle this weekend, that's why.

On Saturday we took the train about one hour to the Western shore of Lake Biwa. I am a little obsessed with Lake Biwa. I can't explain it. But I keep wanting to drag the kids to see towns and places near there. This time it was Hikone, which has a famous Tokugawa-era castle. As usual, there was a great deal of whining before we left, mostly by a certain someone. But as we approached the castle....bonus! Guys in samurai outfits shooting old fashioned guns!

Turns out they were not really trying to shoot tourists. They wanted to welcome us!

They even let us wear their hats.

To visit the castle, you start out climbing. How many stairs, mountains, and steep climbs have we had so far in Japan? Why am I still not losing any weight?

These are scenes from the guard houses and walls around the main castle:

This bridge to the main area is easily destroyed in case of emergency.

After climbing, you round the corner and, kaboom! There's a castle!

Darrin went a little crazy taking pictures of it. But I guess you can see why.

It was fun to go inside. You take off your shoes and carry them in a bag as you walk around. This was the fourth time we had to take off our shoes today. (Note: When touring in Japan, it is better if you do not wear tall boots.)

These are the beams inside the ceiling.

The stairs to the second and third floor were steep.
Really steep.
But what a view!

Many turrets....

Guess what. The stairs were steep going down, too.

We saw fall color on the walk to town:

This town has this successful marketing mascot, Hikonyan. You can buy almost anything with his picture on it. The classic souvenirs are cell phone dangles, hand towels, bags, folders.

We stopped in a British-style pub for fish and chips. Check the size of this portion! "Darrin, are you sure we're still in Japan?"
("You bet...see the napkins?")
"Right. By the way, why am I not losing weight in this country?"

On the walk back to the station, we got to see even more fall colors in Hikone:

You'd better get yourself to Lake Biwa, people. You won't regret it!