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Devi's Japan Travels Part 8: Himeji & Tottori

Ujitey day 5: Himeji with friends

While me and my husband were traveling from south to north, a good friend of mine started from Tokyo towards south with his wife. So we decided to meet halfway our journey and we happened to be near each other so, fun times ahead! We agreed on Himeji, as I had never seen the castle either and wanted to see the castle with the sakura. Although sakura was very late this year and I would probably get lucky snapping even one 'iconic' shot of the castle with flowers.

We wanted to get there fast so we took the highway - which meant we had to pay the toll fare. I am going to stress this again (as I did in my previous blogs) toll fares in Japan are quite high, so if you do a road trip through Japan be sure to not do long distances every day as it will cost you a lot of money (unless you are loaded of course..). That is why we decided to stay longer in one place every time and go to different places in the surroundings from there. Even with this plan it cost us a lot of money and we will change our road-trip strategy accordingly from now on. We learned from it - hope we can help others. Japan is not a cheap country already but without the toll fares we would have easily stayed within our budget. This time we surpassed it because of these costs (also ferry, etc.).

Back to the road - on our way to Himeji! We saw some beautiful landscapes on the way there, mountains with rivers, little villages, this is why I love road-trips.

I love these little road signs next on the highway, most places have their own sign, a 'specialty of the area' sign of some sort.

We arrived in Himeji and drove through the city to find the castle parking lot. We were already really late and we didn't have a dataplan for Japan. If you go to Japan and you need internet I highly recommend a portable wifi router, it's the easiest way to always connect to the internet (and access to google maps, whatsapp, line, etc.). I thought we wouldn't need it (silly me..). I saw some trees with sakura so I was getting a bit hopeful while still skeptical that we would see a lot of sakura trees around the castle. Also the city sceneries were really nice, I am really into architecture, especially the Japanese one. So seeing old houses, temples, etc. is one of my favourite things to do when I travel. Just walking around a city, getting lost, finding my way and having a good local meal is a good time for me.

AMG sakura!! Sort of.

Himeji is a very touristic place. Many have visited Himeji and its castle and there are numerous beautiful pictures online. We saw a lot of photographers with expensive looking cameras and attributes setting up their stuff and taking pictures.

Himeji castle, the lack of sakura pains my heart

 Gate of Himeji castle

After finding our friends at the castle gate we went inside the castle, it was 1000 yen for an entrance ticket but once we got inside we just saw a lot of wood and it was really crowded. We shambled through the castle and we had to wait before we could enter some rooms because of the amount of people. Honestly it wasn't really worth it for me, the outsides of the castle was nicer. There was a very nice shrine next to the castle park and the park itself was also quite nice to walk through. We walked around with our friends and finally got some dinner. 

 View from the castle

 A lot of weapon racks

 A lot of wood, nothing much to see though

Castle grounds

 Pathetic attempt to get that 'iconic' shot of Himeji castle with sakura

Sad, really.

Trying to get one 'iconic' look-at-me-I-am-so-flowery shot, saddest thing ever.

 Nice sunset, walking around the castle grounds. This is the back-side of the castle

We found one (sort of) blossoming tree!!! Hoo-rah! Now, exploit as many shots as you can get with this tree trying to get that spring Japanese feeling picture.

After walking around and having some dinner we decided to call it a day and said goodbye to our friends who also had a long road ahead.

Ujitei day 6: sand dunes and snowy mountains

The next day was a very nice and sunny day. We decided to head for Tottori and I drove a bit as well. I am not used to the left side of the road so it was, well, interesting. Arriving in Tottori the first thing we did was get some McDonalds. I know I know, we never really eat that and love Japanese food but I had such a french fries craving! Sometimes you just have to indulge (a lot). 
We didn't look up anything about Tottori so we just followed some signs and drove up to the castle, thinking it was a castle, but they were mere ruins. Sakura wasn't blooming here either but it would have been beautiful to see. There were yatai, or little food stands, on both sides of the main road to the ruins selling all kinds of foods like yakisoba, taiyaki, and etc. It was quite the climb to reach the ruins, and it was a very windy day.

Just following the signs, going all Navidevi on Japan, feelin' too cool for school (LOOK MUMMY NO MAPS!)

 Entrance to the castle ruins with yatai

 A gate to the ruins

 Quite the climb..

 Beautiful view from up the castle grounds

After this we saw on a map in front of the castle where the sand dunes were, and not expecting much we decided to drive there. But when we arrived... We did not expect this at all..

 Di... did I arrive in the Sahara?

 The dunes were so high!

This large dune was called the horse's back, because of it being shaped like the back of a horse. It was hard to climb, the soft sand did not support one going up.

In the summer this oasis dries up, we were lucky to see it because it was still spring 

Beautiful view of the sea, there were nice waves because of the wind

Walking around here it was like I entered the Sahara desert. It was so windy, sand was flying everywhere. After walking around we went back and we had to first get rid of all the sand. It was everywhere! Time to go back home, let's put the destination in the navigation! Navidevi here we go!
But, wait a second... What is this trickery?? Why are we directed through a very different road? It was starting to get dark and the navigation was directing us through the mountains! We kept on climbing and climbing, I was getting a bit nervous as it was getting dark and there was still a lot of snow on the roads..

 Leaving Tottori on the highway

 All nice and well up until here..

 Wait a second, I don't remember this road

 Errr, we are getting quite high, there's snow on the side of the road and it's getting dark..

 Yikes! Sharp turns and narrow roads! MOMMY HELP ME

 After about an hour we got out, and we got this as a reward

PHEW, we made it out! Lol I wasn't scared at all lolol

Japan never ceases to amaze me. Even getting lost in the mountains, the landscapes were very mesmerising. But I wonder why the navigation took us through this place, could it be what the old lady said was true? That the roads that were closed due to snow would be opened in a few days and these had already passed so the navigation picked up on that? Just my own theory. Who knows. Another mystery for this world. We got some good videos out of it (private of course, no one needs to hear me scream we were gonna die on a mountain top in the snow). 
All in all, Japan keeps surprising me. We went from sand dunes to snowy mountains in one day! Satisfied and relieved we came back home, it was time to rest up for another day, and another adventure. Onwards, to Kansai!

~Written by Devi~

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