Last weekend I went with Yuuki and her family to Shiga, an area of Japan full of temples and shrines. The area is surrounded by beautiful trees which are planted for the sake of 紅葉, or otherwise referring to the many colors of Autumn. If you are not familiar with Shiga, it is the prefecture between Kyoto, the old country capital, and Aichi, where I now live.
When we first pulled off the highway towards our destination we began to see the beauty of fall. Immediately, I could see the mountains covered in orange, yellow, red, and in some areas still green. The majority of the trees we saw were Japanese-style maple trees. The maples in Japan are similar to what is seen in America; however the leaves are a fraction of the size. Anyways, the best part about our trip was that the leaves had not yet fallen in mass quantities.
We first began with Hikone Castle. Before we approached the castle entrance we stumbled across this statue giving some background information to the castle. What I found interesting about this is the various languages that are written to explain to common tourists. As you can see Japanese is first, followed by English, Chinese, and Korean.
Continuing on to the castle, you can see that a moat surrounds the area. As is commonly known, moats were used to protect a castle from being easily sieged. No different here. Although the moat can be used as sufficient defense, it also serves as beautiful landscape.
Onto the journey uphill to the castle.
On the journey up was a series of steps, bridges, and photo opportunities. Most people stop in the same area because specific areas are crafted for the sake of tourists. Japanese people are very polite when it comes to avoiding stepping in on your pictures. Of course, there’s occasionally an older man in any culture that will walk through and interrupt without knowing or possibly caring about the pictures. You can also see the modernization as you climb higher up the mountain. The houses and businesses have now replaced what used to be a forest.
Following the hike uphill and many pictures later we had arrived at the castle. Since coming to Japan, I have seen three castles now. The architecture was similar to the previous two, but the scenery prior to the castle had been better. The foregrounds had not been as large as castles such as Nagoya or Kanazawa castle, but the scenery was gorgeous.
As we ventured back to the car I caught a glimpse of a woman with her baby being carried on her back. I smiled as I saw her, but then I saw her friend who also had a baby strapped to her back. I continued to smile politely, and as they passed me I quickly turned on my camera and followed them a few feet. My camera had been on a slower setting so the first picture was no good. I began to feel creepy as I followed them a bit more and quickly snapped another shot. Here is what I got…lol
After the trip to Hikone Castle, we retired to our 旅館(ryokan), or Japanese-style inn. The inn was positioned right off the coast of Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. As you can see people are still out windsurfing in December.
Before eating dinner, we treated ourselves to the open bath. By open bath, I mean public bath. Men and women are separated of course, but prior to WWII it was not uncommon for men and women to bath in the same vicinity. Luckily, Yuuki’s family understood that I did not want to shower with them so we went at different times. Afterwards we feasted. The dinner consisted of a wide selection of Japanese foods. Most of the foods were a type of beef, fish, or vegetables. The first course being beef dipped in boiling water followed by raw fish, shrimp, and squid.
All food pictures are compliments of Yuuki.
And of course, what trip is complete without Cookie.