Saturday, August 23, 2008

Himeji 姫路

On Sunday of our second weekend in Ono one of the teachers from Joe's school took us along with his family on a day trip to Himeji Castle.

The castle was built in the early 1600s, but a fortification existed on the site for a few hundred years prior to the building of the structure.

Our hosts, age 5 and 8.

Looking out from within...

Looking up at the structure from below. The overhangs could be used to pour hot oil or water on potential intruders, or for ridding the castle of waste during a seige.

A sampling of the many rooftiles that grace the structure.

The view towards Himeji Station and the sea from the top of the castle.

Joe makes a new friend.

Headed back down. The stairs on the top two floors were very steep, it was hard to fit through the stairwells.

In the courtyard after touring the interior.

The stone foundation.

Out in front of the castle.

After a brief lunch break we visited the Hyogo Prefectural History Museum, a new and very up-to-date museum with lots of interesting interactive exhibitions.

Tokyo Orientation

On July 26th Joe and I flew out of O'Hare with four checked bags and two carry-ons, headed for Tokyo and on to Ono. We will spend the next year in Japan teaching English to high school students and exploring our surroundings.

Waiting for our 13 hour flight...

Arrival in Tokyo the next day!

We were quite tired on our first night, so we stayed in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, near our hotel and had some sushi for dinner at a revolving (conveyer belt) sushi place.


We had two days of orientation meetings at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku. At breakfast we had a great view of the Tokyo Government Building.

More views of Tokyo...

The view from our hotel room.

On Tuesday evening we headed out to see some of the city. We first went to Asakusa and Sensoji (temple). Sensoji is dedicated to Kannon, the Bodhisattva of Mercy. Legend says that there has been a temple on this site for over 1,400 years, but the current structure dates to the 1950s.

Joe got his fortune at the temple, it was good!

The fountain outside the main building where people can clense before entering the temple.

Ceiling paintings...

The Shinto shrine that is part of the complex.

The temple was destroyed during WWII, but the tree in the foreground survived the bombing of the area. When the temple was rebuilt in the 1950s the tree remained as a symbol of peace for the future.

We moved on to Akihabara, the electronics district of Tokyo. This area has the largest concentration of electronics shops in the world.

We explored some of the toy stores...

And shops that sold electronic parts of all kinds...

On Wednesday we headed out of Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train) for our new home in Ono, about 3 hours away. We watched the countryside go by, including tea fields and rice fields while relaxing and eating a bento lunch.


At the end of July we sold our house, car and scooter, packed up our things, and said goodbye to Lawrence after seven great years.

Goodbye KU...

Goodbye Frogger the VW Golf and Cliff the Cordi scooter....

Last ride on the scoot.

Goodbye 2115 Tennessee Street!!!