It’s been just over a week since I arrived in Japan on March 23rd, 2016 and I finally have a little bit of down time to send you some updates. How does that sound? ^.^
As I said, I’ve been in Japan for a week and I’ve spent most of that time wandering around Himeji, a small ‘city’ in western Japan. It’s a lovely area with one side resting against the ocean and the other drifting up into the mountains. In fact, up in on Mount Shosha is the Buddhist temple, Engyō-ji. (But more on that later.) For now, let’s show you around Himeji!
As I was saying, the city quite literally spills up into the mountains. One can easily see from the picture below how the houses and buildings start to climb, adding different elevations to the city. It also made me realize just how big this city really is. I haven’t seen more than a quarter of it, if that! Which is funny because compared to Osaka, Kyoto, or Tokyo, this is pretty much a ‘town’. Haha!
Yet, in sea-level town, there are dozens to hundreds of small rivers, creaks, and drainage ditches. They even have signs next to some of these with children in bathing suits and fast-moving water, which make it look like these waterways are designed for floods. I haven’t seen any floods, but during this season, these waterways are a gorgeous addition to any city. Check ’em out!
In addition to these waterways, there is a moat around Himeji castle in the middle of the city. While dangerous and deadly in historic times, it’s now a gorgeous landscape with draping trees and… FISH! They could tell we were close and just came right up to the edge! Aren’t they cute?
Another interesting thing I found while perusing the streets of Himeji is the topiary. Back in the states, having some nice round bushes or tall, full-leafed trees is wonderful. So far, Japan isn’t the same. Now, I don’t know if these trees grow this way or if the Japanese people actually sculpt these trees, but just look at them! They’re kind of funky! Maybe it has something to do with balance?
Oh! And they seem to LOVE their decorative cabbage here. I mean, just look at how nicely arranged it all is! ^.^ And it’s everywhere!
Now, don’t misunderstand. The plants aren’t the only wonderful things the Japanese put time and effort into making look nice. Their metal gates have twisted bars. At the right angle, this makes them look like waves. Yet, when looking at them straight on, they look just like normal fences. Isn’t that cool?!
And while you may assume graffiti is a staple of Western culture, let me correct you. There is graffiti everywhere! And I don’t mean the trashy, cheap spray can, gang symbol graffiti. I mean, gorgeous murals painted on shop doors and walking paths. They’re beautiful. Take a look!
Other random facts I learned so far while in Japan is that using a dryer for clothing is VERY expensive when it comes to energy costs. In fact, it would seem that most people don’t even own dryers. They just hang up all their clothing on their balconies for them to dry, but my question is: what if it rains? Some people have covered roofs, but not everyone. And even if you do laundry on a sunny day, what about in the winter? Do you just have frozen clothing or something? Hmm… I guess, as an American, I may never know. :p But I’m still quite fascinated with this practice. Hee hee!
Last, but not least, on my fascination list so far as sidewalks. So far, sidewalks don’t seem to exist in Himeji. At least, not further away from the main ‘touristy’ area (which is pretty big because of the castle and the temple). But otherwise, there are just dozens upon dozens of side-streets, and walking paths and bike, pedestrians, and cars share them all! No matter how tiny the path is you’ll see a car zipping past! It’s crazy! Some days, I wonder if I’m actually allowed to walk/bike on the streets or if the Japanese people are just shaking their heads at the foolish American. *sigh*
Though, one neat area I came across seemed to be very designated in what you were supposed to do: bike or walk, splitting the sidewalk in two. While helpful and very straightforward, no one paid attention to this sign. -.- People just did whatever they want and again I was standing there in complete bafflement, which seemed to spark curiosity in the Japanese people… or maybe that’s just my blonde hair. I dunno why they stare at me half the time. :p At least I’m used to it. Haha!
Well, that’s all my adventures for now. I will hopefully have more time to prepare updates for you all in the future. For now: