We had seen most everything I’d planned to see in Kyoto and had the day to kill, so, since we still had our JR Pass, we decided to make use of that and go to Hikone Castle. It’s about an hour away from Kyoto – about 1.5 from Osaka, our destination that evening – so we got the subway to Kyoto station. We had our luggage on us, so we went back to Delifrance for breakfast, since it’s easy.
Then we got the train to Hikone. It was pretty full at the station – all the people coming to Kyoto for Sunday sight-seeing, no doubt! Once we got to Hikone, we put our luggage in a storage locker for the day. It cost us 600 Yen, but that was for all our bags in one huge locker. Not bad, since the smaller lockers seemed to cost the same.
Once we got outside, we were ‘interviewed’ by university students. I didn’t really trust them and a lady came out of the Tourist Information centre right near where we were standing and gave me some maps and information and we headed off. The students gave us ‘tickets’ but they were forgeries or something. Glad I didn’t pay for them. This is the first time that someone tried to ‘scam’ us on the whole trip. Though it’s possible I’m maligning them.
Anyway…there was a nice statue right near the station:
And this cute cat statue in someone’s doorway:
And then we got to the castle. It’s surrounded by 2 moats:
We bought our combination ticket for the museum, castle and garden and started off at the Museum, since it was right there. They had some interesting things on display. And unlike most places, you were allowed to take photos inside!
The swords and saddle are actually quite small, not that you can tell in the picture…
There were a lot of Noh theater items on display – fans, masks, gowns etc:
The tea containers were interesting:
There were other odds and ends as well:
There was a tea room and gardens set up as well:
The musical instruments were interesting, too:
There were some lovely screens, too, that I was able to photograph for a change:
And the actual Noh stage:
Then we went up to the castle. There weren’t anywhere near the crowds that we had at Himeji castle, which was nice:
We got some nice views from within the castle main tower and the hill on which it’s set. You can see all the way to Lake Biwa – an enormous inland sea. There were sailboats getting about on it.
After the castle we went down to the plum orchard. It was completely devoid of people. Most likely because it wasn’t in flower or harvest season. It was really nice!
The path then wound around, along the canal, to the Genkyu-en (gardens):
The gardens were really lovely, with lots of bridges and a few buildings, including a tea house.
We then headed to the ‘old town’ area of Hikone. It was nice, but not nearly as great as Takayama with the old buildings. We hadn’t had lunch, so we decided to get some. It was getting quite late, so a lot of places had already closed until dinner. We did finally find a place. It was nice enough and the staff friendly:
We then wandered around, since we had plenty of time before we needed to be in Osaka. We managed to get lost because I hadn’t bothered looking at the map and it turned out we’d gone further in the wrong direction than I’d thought. We still managed to get to our train in time though.
We arrived at Osaka station and rang Taeko as arranged. She and her husband picked us up at a nearby station. It was so nice to see her again! After dropping off our luggage at her house, we went out to dinner at what is obviously their local. They must not see many Westerners there, we felt like we were quite the sensation. Taeko and hubby had ordered a few things for us to try. Very nice!!
Then back to Taeko’s place for some green tea and conversation until (early) bed-time.