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Trip report - Himeji, Kyoto, Nara

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Spent the last week down south doing a bit of a tour of the castles, temples and shrines in Himeji, Kyoto and Nara. Not an extensive and exhaustive tour by any means but that is pretty hard to do with a 2 yo who needs her afternoon nap each day!


We arrived late in the evening in Kobe and stayed in a nearby hotel. Next morning we had intended to just go strainght to Kyoto but decided to make the short trip down to the Himeji Castle. Unfortunately the main keep of the castle is currently being restored and was completely covered in scaffolding and nettting but the gardens and surrounds were still very beautiful and it was nice and warm (well at least for us northerners. The locals still seemed to think it was pretty cool). We also got to see some sakura almost at their peak.


We hopped back on the train and then headed into Kyoto. I must admit to personally having done very little research for this trip (my wife organised it all) and Kyoto wasn't really what I had envisaged. I was expecting something like what I now know Nara to be, a reasonably small town with lots of temples and shrines set amidst forests. Kyoto is actually a rather large and bustling city and the temples and shrines are fairly spaced apart around the city. It would be good on a bike but with a 2 year old this wasn't really an option for us. As I don't really like big cities I was a little dissappointed even though the temples were quite spectacular.


After a couple of days in Kyoto we then jumped back on the train to Nara. Now this was exactly the sort of place I was hoping to see. Spectacular temples and shrines set in a beautiful forest and parklands with a very nice little town/city which although quite touristy was at least a lot quieter than Kyoto. We had a day and a half in Nara but I could have spent much longer.


Overall it was a great trip. After nearly 8 years in Japan I had seen very little of the country beyond Hokkaido.


Here's a few pics from the trip.


Himeji Castle area















Our little girl love the ramen!




Kyoto area

















Nara Area
















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Nice photos. I lived in Kansai for ten years, but it was pre-digital cameras so I don't know where exactly my photos are and they won't be anything like as good anyway.


In the trip report on the other side, I was more surprised by the "Kyoto is by far the most beautiful city I've been to" comment than the "everything's back to normal" one. Kyoto has lovely sites around the edges, but the center is pretty much the same as other Japanese cities. The only biggish city center that struck me as different in Japan is Mito in Ibaraki. Its got massive parks right in the middle.

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Yeah I wasn't overly impressed by the city of Kyoto. Just another big, ugly Japanese city (like the vast bulk of them). Not as ugly as some I've been to but hardly what I would even remotely consider beautiful!!

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