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Winter 2011

Fall in Shiga pt.1

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.

Next was a series of vegetables, soups, and more meat.  Most of the vegetables are not commonly seen in the U.S. or not even seen in the U.S. at all.

Last came a strip of cooked eel on rice, then a fruit dessert consisting of persimmon, pear, and strawberry.

All food pictures are compliments of Yuuki.

And of course, what trip is complete without Cookie.

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About travelnihon

I recently graduated from the University and am currently teaching English to all ages in Japan

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Fall in Shiga pt.1

  1. Brad, you have some really great photos in this post! The moat photo is excellent…love the refections in the water. And some of the tree and castle shots were very nicely framed. Love the mom doing double duty:) I must admit I am envious of the photo ops you are encountering. Can’t wait to see all your shots one day! Tell Yuuki her food pics are excellent as usual. No one shoots a meal like she does!

    Posted by Mom | December 6, 2011, 6:18 pm
  2. Brad, since its my birthday in Japan have a cold beer for me since I am still at work and most likely will be for the next few hours. Celebrate my birthday with honor and respect (the Japanese way). Then once its December 7th in the US I will celebrate by being loud and obnoxious (the American way).

    Posted by Adam | December 6, 2011, 11:18 pm
  3. Brad, I am enjoying each chapter you write. I also like the fact that there are plenty of pictures. Glad to see you enjoying yourself and I hope you have many more great adventures to share.

    Posted by Aunt Deb | December 7, 2011, 2:38 am
  4. Loud and obnoxious is not the American way, just the Adam way, you’re right mom! Brad, the pictures are great! Thanks for capturing the ladies with the backpacking babies…I feel like that was for me. Make sure its tell Yuki hi, and tell her to come visit me when she gets back to Ohio. Lovvvvve you!

    Posted by lisa | December 7, 2011, 4:45 pm
  5. Brad the pictures of the trees are just beautiful. All of the picures are very interesting and I really enjoy all that you send. Now I understand why your grandfather always thought it would be nice to go back to Japan. It is certainly a beautiful country and I am so pleased that you are there and enjoying it. Take care.

    Posted by Grandma | December 7, 2011, 11:08 pm

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