Wednesday 23 April 2008 - Friday 25 April 2008
Headed straight for the youth hostel in Kobe which is about 30mins by train from the port, at certain times of the day they have women only carriages....how cool!!
The hostel in Kobe was all a bit faulty towers....seemed quite deserted, i had a room to myself which was nice though. Signs everywhere telling you what time you could do this and that...quite glad i was only there one night!!! they had a towelling toilet seat cover which was the strangest feeling....im guessing not too hygienic either...??
The next day i got my japan rail pass and left my big rucksack at Shin Kobe and got the shinkansen to Himeji. The shinkansen is the bullet train and they look so futuristic!!! Very prompt, lots of japanese businessmen on board whizzing around the country to meetings.
In the station they play birdsong and when the gates retract for you to board the train they play incy wincy spider.......so random!
Himeji was beautiful, it was raining so it was quite misty but that was ok. Its one of the only japanese castles to still be in its original form (they did a big refurb in the 50s though but used traditional building techniques) Its up quite a steep hill and i was following an american tour group up. Inside the main tower there are 6 floors with really steep stairways and it was pretty tough going! managed to hear a bit of what their english tour guide was saying but he was basically reading the exhibits!!! At the top there is a really good view over Himeji...japan is a refreshing change to china where everything is grey and brown, here all the hillsides are full of greenery which is really pretty, lots of vibrant colours.
Theres not much else to do in Himeji so went to pick up my rucksack...after a bit of a search for the lockers i found it eventually!!! experienced my first japanese toilet seat with all the gismos, its was nice and warm but i passed on all the other features!! then hopped on the shinkansen to kyoto. it really is amazing how efficient it is!
went to the tourist information centre as i didnt have a hostel booked and they gave me lots of maps and even booked a hostel for me! came straight to the hostel to drop off my things, its really nice, modern clean, lots of people here.
I headed out on one of the walking tours i had gotten from the TIC but as it was about 6ish everything had closed so i abandoned that plan! Came back to the hostel and met my room-mates, they were heading out to Gion the old pleasure district so i went out with them.
we went for something to eat and tried to peek into the exclusive looking teahouses! every now and then geisha and maiko would hop in a taxi and travel to another teahouse.
sorry its all a bit random, just typing things as i remember...seems like so much has happened in such a short time!
typing really quickly so no time for capitals...the internet is fairly expensive here. compared with china japan is a lot more expensive but on a par with london really. its also a lot easier to travel around which is handy rather than having to check things all the time..theres a lot more english signage
it looks like the weather has cleared today thankfully and im off to visit some of the many shrines and temples around Kyoto!