Tuesday, 11 October 2016

What a difference an O makes!

Tuesday 4th October.

                             Lady Watson had planned for us to visit Nagasaki today but after coming to her senses when realising the train journey would be over 4 hours+ each way came up with the idea of visiting the Kintai bridge in the town of Iwakuni which is a short train trip from Hiroshima.
And it was delicious
                              We jumped on a train and headed for Iwakuni and after a short stop at a Mr Donut shop(not typically Japanese) for a coffee and a custard infested doughnut in the shape of Snoopy's head,decided to walk to the bridge as I had misread the map which I thought stated the bridge was 500 metres away but I think I missed out a zero and it was actually 5000 metres away.
The old rugby wounds started to reignite after about two kilometres but we kept on going and eventually arrived at the bridge and the sight of it compensated for the sore leg.
A bit like the Forth bridge
                            Kintai bridge is a five arch wooden bridge over the river Nishiki and is the gateway to Kikkou park which amongst other things contains Iwakuni castle and in order to get to the castle a cable car has been provided for us lesser mortals who don't fancy a long walk to the castle's summit.
But made of wood.
The bell tolls and it tolls for thee.
 This park is a tourist trap especially in cherry blossom time as well as in the autumn colour changes of the Japanese maples.Whilst crossing the bridge I spotted boats moored on the river banks which I later found out were used for fishing with Cormorants during the summer.That must annoy the animal liberation front.
Local fishing boats
                  A series of bridges have been built on this spot since the early seventeeth century but they all came to a sticky end until stone bases were introduced and then finally in 1953 finally saw the use of metal nails for the first time.Took them long enough to start using sense which is unusual for the Japanese.
welcome to the park.
                               After paying your toll you head across the bridge and find yourself amongst the commercial part with the inclusion of a few restaurants.We decided to partake of some lunch before exploring the park and heading up to the castle.Standard Japanese fare was on offer so a nice bowl of noodles accompanied by a nice thirst quenching beer as once again the temperature was in the high twenties.
                             We made our way through the park admiring the period Japanese buildings and eventually arriving at the bottom part of the cable car.We headed up reflecting on the fact that we had been on more cable cars this year than we have ever been on in our puff.
If she keeps on dancing we'll be over.
  A short trip brought us to the top cable car station where a path took us on up towards the castle.The original castle was built by Kikkawa Hiroie in 1608 but he was told to take it down as the shogun at the time stipulated one castle per province.
Our ultimate destination.
The present castle is a replica.Contained in the castle is an exhibition of historical swords from throughout the ages as well as some Samurai armour.Typically this castle had a few levels leading up to the summit of the castle and giving us the opportunity to look out over the town of Iwaguni and the adjoining U.S marine airfield.

A wee bit oot o place!
 As time was ticking on we headed back down the cable car and made our way back towards the bridge looking at the park on our way.We came upon a huge pond of Koi fish which were complemented by some turtles.
Feeding time.
                  Also within the grounds were two statues,one of founder of the castle Kikkowa and the other which was harder to find is of Kojiro Sasaki who was a master swordsman in the Edo period.
Kojiro Sasaki
 Also in the park is the White snake museum which contains the white snakes which if seen were said to bring good luck to the beholder.
A bit of an oddity

Even more so
 After leaving the park a majority decision was made and we headed back to the station courtesy of a local taxi.
                    Today's trip was just a taster for what was to come the following day.Watch this space.

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