Today was one of my favorite days so far. This morning, we took the train to Himeji to see the castle. We were told it’s the most visited castle in Japan, but thankfully it’s spring, so it wasn’t very crowded. I read in my guidebook that you can rent bicycles for free at the train station, so we checked at the info booth, and they had tons of bikes available. It was so much fun riding down the main street towards the massive castle. When we arrived, we parked the bikes outside and took our bike keys with us. The bike locks are a little clamp and spoke with a key, so the lock stays in while you’re riding and then you “lock” it and take the key with you. Not totally theft proof, but they’re too polite here to steal a bike if it required wire cutters. If only this method worked in Portland.
I spent way too long wandering around in the castle, but it was just so amazing. We also visited the Samurai gardens, before riding back into town for lunch. We parked our bikes, while we walked around the town and then realized too late that we were going to be late for our 3:02pm train. So we sped back to the bike return and then ran, ran, ran to the station. We missed the train by 2 minutes, but we made excellent time. We ended up taking a different route back to Kyoto, testing out our Japan Rail passes with a transfer instead of waiting for an hour at the Himeji station.