We got rail passes! Trains in Japan are expensive, so we bought a 7-day pass that allows unlimited train travel. First day: round trip to Kanazawa from Kyoto. The famous Kenroku-En garden is considered to be one of three “perfect gardens” and is the easiest to visit with our itinerary. It was peaceful and well planned. I imagine that in full cherry blossom season it is breathtaking, but off-season it is still lovely and the tree-shaping techniques are clever. Every winter the gardeners tie the branches of the bonzai trees to a center pole. This protects them from the weight of snow. Cherry trees don’t blossom until spring, but some of the plum trees are starting to bloom and provided us a bit of color. The town of Kanazawa didn’t get bombed in WWII and the castle and garden have survived since 1600.
On our way to Hiroshima I planned a stopover in Himeji to see the beautiful castle. This castle has never been burned down, besieged or bombed. Only a handful of castles can make that claim.
I thought that Hiroshima would be a depressing city to visit. August 6, 1945 is referenced everywhere and the city center has kept one charred building to testify about the atomic bomb. The rest of the city has been rebuilt and even the castle has been recreated in the original style. History is not ever-present and it is a normal city with specialty food and some cool landmarks.
Our first night we ate Okanimiyaki. If the ingredients of ramen were fried into a layered pancake, that would resemble Okanimiyaki. We loved it.
An island near Hiroshima called Miyajima has a shrine that partially submerges at high-tide. It also has deer! One ate my map, but the hike was well marked.
We didn’t visit a puppy cafe, but our breakfast place had a puppy! As soon as I sat down, he hopped on my lap and snuggled me. Of course we went back the next day.
Our final city in Japan will be Tokyo.