Nippon or Land of the Rising Sun

Happy Total Solar Eclipse Day back in Lockport, NY from us here in the land of the rising sun. How appropriate that we are missing a once in a lifetime viewing of the solar eclipse to be in Nippon, which is the name the locals use instead of Japan. Nippon means land of the rising sun. So, as the sun rises in Lockport, we are settling in the room to watch the sun set.  (It was Marco Polo who gave this country the name of “Japan.”)

We ended up having a great day! Our guide, Koji, picked us up bright and early. Prior to leaving, we started out by having a history lesson on Japan or Nippon. This included looking at a map and Kathy tried very hard to pay attention. At least she knows we are on an island! Koji is a former teacher and we made sure to pay attention in case we had a quiz at the end of the tour. Today we are heading to Himeji Castle, the only original castle of the 12 built which is still standing in Japan.  As such, it is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The castle, recommended to us by Kyoko (our local friend), was well worth the bullet train ride to get to the castle. The castle is a beautiful white color and sits upon a hilltop and was surrounded by flowering cherry blossom trees. The castle is nicknamed the “White Heron Castle” for its beautiful color and graceful lines. Koji, through the entire journey, took the time to educate us about how they built the castle and its many uses through the centuries. At one point it even housed troops to train them to prepare for WWI.  The castle has two parts, the princess’s quarters and the main castle. You can enter both, and for both you go up a lot of narrow wooden stairs in stocking feet.  The views, though, for both are well worth the slippery climb up and down.  Oh, and watch out for the low ceilings that if you don’t duck under, you will hit your head. (Yes, Kathy was again unaware and hit her head.) We briefly stopped off for “lunch” and we say that in quotation marks, because out came 5 little pieces of meat on a stick, like really little pieces, that were fatty, boring, and totally did not hit the mark. Oh well, so far we have had great luck especially as we had a 90% chance of rain and there was not a cloud in the sky! After “lunch” we headed to the gardens surrounding the castle and again got to enjoy the artistry of Japanese landscaping.  Hoofing it back to the train station we continued with our history lessons. Koji, spelled our names in Chinese, and in two forms of Japanese.  He wrote both our first and last name so that we can have a wooden placard made for our house. He discussed the various local foods, including our shuba-shuba, which we had already tried, and the differences in houses and various sports and theatrical styles. Luckily, no test was given to us. Finally back at the room we chilled, and then tried to order a pizza for delivery using the front desk staff.  Fail!  After all the work of explaining the order, finding the restaurant’s phone number, calling the order in… the restaurant said they weren’t delivering today!  We finally resorted to again walking to find dinner in the rain which had just started. Still, all and all, it was a good day. As we listen to the rain hit our windows we feel lucky, all is well on the island.


2 thoughts on “Nippon or Land of the Rising Sun”

  1. All I can say is: Besutiful pictures. And those trains are sure different. No wonder they are called bullet trains. They look it. And again be safe and have a good time.

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