2011 Japan Vacation

The road less traveled

There were a lot of people at Hikone Castle (more on that later…), but when we came down the hill after seeing it, there were two paths, and the lady at the booth tried to dissuade us from heading off to the right. Not because of a problem with our tickets, or because it was off limits, or even just a longer walk, but because the other way was more popular. I’m glad we didn’t listen, because we ended up having the place to ourselves, making this the only popular tourist site where we didn’t have to worry about people getting in our pictures.

Around the back side of Hikone Castle

Down the Hozu again!

I still want to take this trip in the Spring, with white-water and cherry blossoms, but I was not the least bit unhappy to see it again in Autumn, especially since this time we took the scenic train up-river first.

Boatman on the Hozu River

A touch of class

Not all of our adventures were outdoors. One wonderful evening was spent at Gion Hatanaka, with a Geiko and a Maiko. Great fun, and I absolutely smoked the maiko in a traditional drinking game. Sadly, while the customers had to drink a beer if they lost, the maiko merely handed over a pair of souvenir chopsticks.

Maiko dance at Gion Hatanaka

Just because it's sacred...

…doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

Kids playing at Kitano Tenmangu shrine

Katsukura tonkatsu

Katsukura is a chain of tonkatsu restaurants. Good tonkatsu. We only tried the one in the Teramachi shopping arcade just off of Shijo-dori, but it was so good that we went back another day and paid extra for a higher grade of pork. The restaurant itself is an oasis of calm in a busy shopping area.

They have a number of locations around the country, including Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and several in Tokyo.

Katsukura Tonkatsu

Nostalgic Kyoto

Sometimes, you need to escape from the pressures of 21st Century life and retreat to an earlier, simpler time.


The leaves are always redder...

…right next to the men’s room. Which is why this lovely tree in the lovely park at the lovely Hikone castle is cropped so tightly.

Hikone's most colorful tree

Cosplay Queen

I hereby nominate her for Empress of Toei Studio Park.

Cosplay gunslinger at Toei Studio Park, Kyoto

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