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Hikone City - Arriving

Written on: Thursday April 1st, 2010

A journal entry from: Shiga Prefecture

After a long pause from travel my first adventure took me to Hikone by accident. Originally I had planned to stop over in Maibara since it is on the JR express route but due to spring break there were no hotel rooms available. So, the travel agent recommended Hikone and after 6 hours I arrived at 8pm this evening. 

A few points about Hikone. It is only one stop (on the local train) away from Maibara and has a population of over 108,613. Located on the shore of Lake Biwa and many of its features are generally within walking distance of the station. Its key tourist attraction is the castle which was built between 1603 and 1622. Which is about half-way between the station and the lake (20 minutes each way). Hikone is also noted (on wikipedia) as having a joint facility with Michigan which offers American students the opportunity to come and study Japanese language and culture. With its close proximity to Kyoto, Osaka and other large city centers on Honshu, I can understand why this would be a good location. 

Hikone station is a typical small city station but has a couple of really neat statues in a gravel park sitting area outside the entrance. More about them (and photos) tomorrow since it was too dark tonight to be a shutterbug tourist. :)

On the other side of the gravel park  is a larger street that runs a short distance from the station to Gokoku Shrine. Similar to the main streets found in many other cities but I was actually quite surprised to find it rather quiet. A few small restaurants, Izakaya and bars but not many people entering the establishments. Then again it is a Thursday night so maybe the week-end would be different. Though the Shiga website notes that Shigaians tend to prefer home cooking to eating out. (http://www.pref.shiga.jp/english/)

After checking in, I wandered up and down this street in search for a quick dinner and found even fewer night life spots closer to the shrine. Though it looks like it would be a rather friendly street during the day. 

Dinner was not all that special... salad and egg noodle bento dish. But by this point I was just happy to eat anything and spend time relaxing back at the hotel. After packing, cleaning, moving out of the apartment, saying final goodbyes and leaving Niihama... well, a quiet night is very much needed. So, now to bed and further adventures at the castle and gardens in the morning. Oyasuminasai! :)

Update:

The next morning I wandered back to the station and down the large road on the way to the castle. It was busier then the previous night but not crowded. Many of the shops that had looked empty in the dark were open and welcoming.

Just before reaching the first walls I just so happened to be walking past a neat clock which plays a Japanese cheer song and has figures inside that turn and dance. I can't quite remember the exact word of the cheer... I think it is sora or sorra but need to double check since it is the same cheer as during Taiko Matsuri back in Niihama.