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Wednesday, July 09, 2008


G and I enjoyed the climb on Tuesday am up Himeji castle, a world heritage listed castle, which manages to crown the city buildings of Himeji, built as it is on a hill, in what was a castle town. It is a little strange to make the top storey to be greeted by a Shinto shrine, but apparently this is in honour of the hill on which it is built. We were really starting to feel the heat of a Japanese summer here, and perhaps it is that the further we venture south, the hotter it actually is. G enjoyed pretending to fire arrows from the various points around the castle, looking at the wells, and it was great being the only ones there, as we got there shortly after opening at 9am.

We hopped on our bullet train at 12.30, to be spirited away through Hiroshima, and on, under the ocean through a tunnel to the third main island we have managed to visit in our time here so far, Kyushu. By 2.40pm we were in Fukuoka, and made our way to a school visit by 3.30pm. Another school visit this morning at a Jesuit school similar to the one I am now working, and then we were free for the afternoon. Considering the heat, we decided to make for Fukuoka`s network of underground shopping, under the suburb of Tenjin, until it cooled a little. We enjoyed browsing the basements of the big department stores like Daimaru and Mitsukoshi, where we were rewarded with taste tests of jellys, cakes and even freshly prepared coffee.

The food in Japan has been an ongoing revelation - smoking allowed in most restaurants has managed to turn us off quite a few times, and we have decided `family` restaurants (beer and hamburger meat) are best avoided. Today, for lunch, we decided to try a place just over the road from our hotel, a tiny one man show, which turned out to serve the best Yakisoba, and one serve at 500 yen (less than $5) served G and I easily!

Finally today, we took a JR line ( on our passes) out of the city, and then had to change once and then onto a private line for one station - on a recommendation from one of the teachers at the first school we visited, we went to a place called Mitoma, north of the city. Here after an amazing 10 minute walk, we discovered largely deserted white sand beach, where G swam and ran with abandon, and we practised our stone throwing technique. By 6.45pm, we decided the sun had sunk far enough, had our misadventure with a family restaurant and returned home, only regretting the lack thus far of bath houses.

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