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Today was a quick visit to Himeji Castle, I have been there before and prior to leaving AU MrsM mentioned she was not that interested in going there. It didn’t matter what she said I was taking them to the castle and after going she said that was the best place so far. Also cherry blossom season was a bit later this year and although the full bloom was over it was still very nice. When leaving the wind picked up and the petals were just falling like light snow.
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Also when we were at around the 4th floor we started hearing sirens, MrsM immediately asked if there was an earthquake. I said no the earthquake warning is different. The locals were not worried but were interested to know what was going on in town. Turns out it was a building fire. A hour later the fire fighters were still working on the fire.
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Any how after the fire excitement we went our seperate ways for a while and I will come back to this at the end of the TR as somehow I have gone from HLO to a checked bag / luggage PAX and may yet have to pay for extra luggage. After a late lunch we are on the move again.
Lunch
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Leaving Himeji
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Leaving Osaka (thunderbolt train)
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Lake Biwa
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We had to transfer at Tsuruga so I did a sneaky trip through the green carriage and grand class before the conductor did the seat checks.
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Another businessman hotel.
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So a day in Kanazawa after breakfast we headed to Kanazawa Castle Park, the castle is gone and there are now reconstructed buildings and only a couple of original buildings. On the way we went through the Omicho markets and I do not think I have seen oysters as big as these and the general overall food selection was amazing.
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Kanazawa Castle
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We walked to the Higashi Chaka District which is an old district but has been updated over time. At the time we were there the Geisha and Tea Houses were closed or booked out, also there are a number of shops that specialise in gold leaf including ice cream.
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We walked past this shop, a sake brewery that has been brewing since 1625 well it would be just rude not to sample what is on offer.
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An iced Matcha Tea for MissM
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So a day in Kanazawa after breakfast we headed to Kanazawa Castle Park, the castle is gone and there are now reconstructed buildings and only a couple of original buildings.
Hi Matt_01. Enjoying your trip report. Did you find the visit to the castle grounds still worthwhile, even without the castle? We are in Japan in late September and were thinking of visiting Kanazawa. Obviously the castle is not the only thing worth visiting, but it was something we were looking forward to.
 
Well, I have mentioned on several other trip reports, a picture says a thousand words, and it would be very difficult to describe in words, what is shown in your photos. Thank you for a great read.
 
Hi Matt_01. Enjoying your trip report. Did you find the visit to the castle grounds still worthwhile, even without the castle? We are in Japan in late September and were thinking of visiting Kanazawa. Obviously the castle is not the only thing worth visiting, but it was something we were looking forward to.
We found the Castle park well worth the visit and glad we went but it might not be for everyone. The only 2 old buildings that remain we couldn’t go into and not sure if they get opened to the public. If you planning to visit the Kenrokuen Gardens then I would say take a look at the castle park as they are next to each other. Fun fact the road that runs between the 2 locations was once the castle’s moat.
 
On the move again and we are heading to Nagano for the night.
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Once we arrived in Nagano we dropped off the luggage and headed for the bus to take us to the the 5 shrines of Mount Togakushi. To see all 5 you would most likely need an entire day as they are in 3 close but seperate locations Hokosha (lower), Hinomikosha and Chusha (middle) and Kuzuryusha and Okusha (top). I had planned on going to all however we only ended up going to Okusha and Kuzuryusha which was fine as it was the 400 year old cedar trees that MrsM wanted to see. Depending on the time of the year I suspect it can be easy to get around or a little more difficult, the snow and slush made for slower walking speeds. The Okusha shrine doors were closed and the Kuzuryusha shrine could be accessed however the main structure had been enclosed by what seems to a temporary shelter to keep it from the snow. Also when we arrived in Nagano it was sunny and around 20C, when we got off the bus it was around 11C and Mrs&MissM do not like cold weather without coats.
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That all been said we were glad we went.
 
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A couple of more photos from Mt Togakushi these businesses are closed for the winter and will reopen on 24 Apr 24.
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So far my plan to stay in businessmen’s hotels has gone to plan, there was an initial complaint from Mrs&MissM that the rooms are small but within a couple of days they got used to it. At the time of booking I suspected this hotel may have been too much for them, it was cheap (around AUD80 per head per night) but meet the requirement of being close to the station as it is just over the road and less than 5 minutes walk even when I was pushing their luggage. I was somewhat jealous that they had a massage chair and offered to swap rooms. I suggested they could just sleep in my room and I would bring whatever items they required, i.e. I would be their personal buttler when I was not sitting in the massage chair. My suggestion was denied.
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Also we had dinner at a soba noodle place.
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I'm going back to Nagano, next month!
The Dormy Inn there was great but this time booked a Shukubo instead! Would be fun....
 
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Ok so I will mention the hotel very quickly, it wasn’t that flash, taps leaked and the air conditioning was just hot and even if if it was off the room was just hot. I ending up opening the window and every few minutes I got the predestination crossing sounds. When MrsM emerged she did not have a nice thing to say about it and said it is the worse accommodation she has stayed in. I doubt we will never stay there again.

Anyhow this morning we jumped on another train and headed off to Matsumoto to tick another original castle off the list, I hope to eventually get to all 12. On the way to castle MrsM found some little street she liked the look of and then cam across the pigeons and little bags of food. It turns out the pigeons in Matsumoto are like the deers in Nara, once they know you have food they wont leave you alone.
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Last activity for the day was to get back to Nagano, collect luggage and head to Tokyo.
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As this was the last trip on the Shinkansen I booked into green class as Mrs&MissM have not traveller in that class before. They were quite stoked. I picked the single seat.
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I haven’t stayed in Ueno since 2015 but came across this place when looking for accommodation and it meet our requirements. The thought of arriving at Tokyo station and then having to change to local lines to get to the Conrad or Shinjuku with x2 checked bags and x3 carry ons during the evening peak hour was something I did not want to face. Price wise it wasn’t to bad 3 nights was a little over $1K. It is called &Here and is close to the JR station.
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@rbjhan you are doing better than myself I have 8 to go. I have also visited the reconstructions if I have been nearby time and permitting, the reconstruction count sits at 6. I do plan to get to all of the origionals.
 
@rbjhan you are doing better than myself I have 8 to go. I have also visited the reconstructions if I have been nearby time and permitting, the reconstruction count sits at 6. I do plan to get to all of the origionals.

Just need to plan a trip to Shikoku and you'll knock 4 in one go! 😉
 
Hmmm, in fact I've never counted this 🤣
Let's see, Osaka, Nagoya, Kumamoto, Okayama, Kanazawa, Toyama, Hiroshima, Sendai(does that even count)....
I didn’t count Kanazawa for my count is now at 7. Over the coming years my plan is to get to the original 12. I have considered doing a trip as a castle run.
 
We had to transfer at Tsuruga so I did a sneaky trip through the green carriage and grand class before the conductor did the seat checks.
Oh this is the new shinkansen route! We took the thunderbird on this in 2023, and I look forward to trying the new shinkansen soon. I heard that Tsuruga station is a bit of a hotch potch and not that easy for the transfer, so roll on the day when the last leg is constructed and no need to change stations.
 
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