Forts, Fireworks and Falling over. 

I going to keep this one brief in an attempt to catch up with where we are.  It’s surprisingly difficult to find the time to put these together in between all the fun things that provide the material to write about. Our stop in Himeji was brief.  We had an afternoon and evening to see the castle and the gardens next door before heading to Hiroshima the next day.  Himeji-jo, or white egret castle,  is the quintessential Japanese castle.  As well as being largely original, having managed to survive WWII it is also the largest castle in Japan and has recently finished a serious of renovations.  It’s an impressive structure to say the least and impressively intact for any actual fortification. The gardens next door where small but characteristically picturesque,  particularly the Lords garden.  I’ll let the pictures fill in the gaps. 

Hiroshima started with a bang. Or rather a series of them. All of our trip so far has involved us being in lots of different places anywhere between a few weeks and a few days away from a local festival. We thought that was still the case until our AirBnB host (first time we used it too) told us that the day we were arriving there was a fireworks festival, that was FREE, taking place on the nearby island Miyajima. Now Miyajima  was on our list of places to visit already to see the famous floating Torii so the addition of fireworks made it a must. The Shrine was impressively big, especially up close as it was low tide.  The fireworks were unbelievable.  I have never seen such an impressive display. Until now I had always thought that fireworks that exploded to make of flowers,  love hearts and smiley faces were only found in animation.  Turns out I was mistaken.  The size of some of the explosions was deafening and you could feel the detonations through every inch of you and the second time from the echo as well. The most impressive part though was that, including a few short breaks to let the smoke clear, the display lasted just over an hour! Apparently they let off somewhere in the region of 50,000 fireworks.  I can believe it. Worth a quick look on YouTube to get an idea of the scale. 

We also paid a short visit to Saijo. About a half hour train ride from Hiroshima and home to at least seven sake breweries. We dropped in on all seven on the little map you get at the station and sampled some tasty brews from a few of them.  They varied in size and how they brewed,  whether it was traditionally,  or more mechanised and whether they pasteurised or not.  We only paid for one set but it was probably the nicest we had but the sixth place we went to was by far the biggest and seemed to have its entire product line out for visitors with around 12 different varieties on offer. Naturally we had to try all of them, however having already had a not inconsiderable quantity by now we both called am end to the tasting at 8 before thanking the brewer and aiming at the train station in a relatively straight line. 

The main reason for the visit to Hiroshima though is for a more sobering experience.  The visit to the peace memorial museum I would argue should be somewhere everyone should visit.  Particularly if they are in any way in favor of nuclear weapons existing let alone being used. I’d love to see Teresa May visit and then try to defend pressing that button next to any one of the displays there. 

One bit of misfortune that struck after the museum was me attempting to break my camera while falling over.  I didn’t really think about the fact that while trying to take a picture I was wandering onto a bit of riverside that had earlier been underwater at high tide and was really quite slippery.  Thankfully I didn’t damage myself or the camera too much other than a bit of a graze and an imprint of the lens cap on my hand as well as breaking the battery lid off the camera. I now have a replacement hopefully waiting at one of our next hostels but it is apparently incredibly difficult to find such a simple replacement part in the county where the blasted things are made. Still,  could have been worse. Can’t really afford a camera upgrade at this point. 
On our way out of Hiroshima we also went for a short tour of the Mazda factory and museum. I currently quite fancy having an mx5 though it might be a while till I can afford one at this point in time. 

The end of this post leaves us with a mountain to climb,  literally.  It’s time to head to Mt. Fuji.

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