Sunday, 7 April 2013


This morning after breakfast, we still didn't have a solid plan for our day. (This is a wonderful feeling after so many days where we have felt rushed to squeeze things in). We had been thinking about Hiroshima Castle, but Margaret suggested the Shukkei-en Gardens first, and maybe we could then do the castle afterwards. This turned out to be an excellent idea. After a slightly confusing tram ride and a very windy but refreshing walk, we reached the gardens and paid 250yen for admission to the park (over 65's are free!). It was utterly and completely stunning, and I took around 100 photos, so what I post on the blog is just a fraction of what there was to see. Walking around it reminded me of Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo because it was another oasis in the middle of a bustling city, but I think parts of it were even more beautiful than Shinjuku Gyoen. It felt like Narnia, Middle Earth and Wonderland rolled into one, and there was no shortage of koi fish and cherry blossoms. I saw at least four cats running around the park and a tortoise swam right up to us, but then got bored when he realised we weren't going to feed him. It showered on and off throughout the day, but very lightly, and always in beautiful sunshine, so it wasn't nearly as noticeable as the Miyajima rain yesterday. It was full of little shrines and bridges and a tea house and a couple of tiny rowboats moored on the lake. I saw a koi fish the size of a small dolphin, so luckily no one fell in because they would have probably been eaten instantly.

Marnie and blossom :)

Beautiful view


Little rowboat and bridge
After a quick coffee and snack under falling cherry blossom and raindrops, we headed over to Hiroshima Castle, which was only a short walk away. The grounds are far bigger than the actual castle, and are surrounded by an enormous moat, which was pretty cool. I don't know if I've actually seen a working moat in the European castles I've visited. The grounds and castle were completely annihilated by the atomic bomb, (except about three trees, and they have photos of them in the wreckage) so the castle is just a replica, but they have the foundations of the surrounding buildings where they fell. For any Narnia nerds, it reminded me instantly of the Cair Paravel ruins. The castle is home to a museum about the castle's history, which is quite informative, and has a little gift shop and a place to dress up in samurai clothes to take pics. It costs 360yen to enter the castle, but we didn't have to pay anything to enter the grounds.

Cair Paravel - I mean, Hiroshima Castle

Hiroshima Castle

Being a nerd

Nerd Snr (with bonus topknot!)

Lovely, obliging cosplayer
Despite the rain, the grounds were also overrun with cosplayers - I don't know if it was a particular convention or something, but there were dozens of people in costume and taking photos of each other. I asked very politely if I could take a photo of one girl, and she nodded enthusiastically, shoved her bags at her friend, finished what she was chewing, retrieved her weapon and posed. I thanked her profusely and told her she was beautiful and she was so charming and grateful. It gave me the confidence to ask a few more people, so I got some good pics.

By this time it had gotten a bit colder and windier, so I headed back to the hotel to dump my photos and everyone else went shopping. I'm trying to save my money, so it was a bit safer for me at the hotel. At 5.30 we Skyped with Mum and Riley and Brondi, and then we went out to a Spanish restaurant called zucchini and had paella and eggplant lasagna tapas and creme brulee. I can say with confidence now, that the Japanese do Italian and Spanish cuisine extremely well. Now time for sleep! Peace park tomorrow, and if the weather is fine, maybe Miyajima again...

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