Number Five kind of broke us

Inuyama Castle was number four of the five national treasures. That left Hikone Castle. We left Inuyama in the rain – too much rain for a stroll along the river back to the station, so a taxi it was. We made it to Hikone on the shore of Lake Biwa by early afternoon. It was Sunday in a smallish city (pop about 120,000) so things were pretty quiet. We decided to tackle the castle right away – just in case!

We were feeling a bit droopy after the stair climbing exertions of the day before, but it didn’t look like too far a walk – maybe twenty minutes. The castle grounds are quite spacious and there were several moats and gates to pass through. It turns out that the castle was held by one family pretty much through its entire history. The family name was sometimes translated as Ii, other times as Hi, but for 400 some years this was their place. Mid 20th century they donated the castle and their artifacts, which went to a museum. The museum was very interesting. The artifacts were interesting on their own, but at the back there was a reconstruction of what the living quarters would have been like back in the day. Unlike the luxury of the palace at Nagoya this was fitting for a more minor lord. Seemed more relatable than the gold and glitz of the Nagoya Castle.

A bit of gold on a lovely screen.

I find it hard to believe that this guy wasn’t forever banging into the door frame and snagging himself on over hanging branches.

However, one inescapable fact of castles had to be dealt with.

First the long walk up the hill.

Ugh – that’s the entrance up there. Around the corner to the left and up another hill.

And the all important mascot. Meet Hikonyan, a cat wearing the horned helmet of the Ii family. Cat at least went for the helmet less likely to snag the tree branches….

Once again out of our shoes and up the stairs. At least this time they had more modern stairs and hand rails – still steep but not a ladder! Looking at the floor boards and ceiling beams really gives an appreciation of the size of the trees that were used for the construction of the castle.

And at the very top the beams were these huge trunks that were somehow woven together….

After our explorations of the castle it was time to head back down. The weather was threatening but we thought we’d have a chance to visit the garden. But this is where we made a tactical error. Rather than go down the steep slope we had come up we decided to go the back way – what was called the accessible slope. Yeah. Bad Idea. First – laws of physics say if the way up is short and steep and the way back is a gentle slope then its going to be a long way. And they lied about the accessible part – it was both very long and full of steps. By the time we finally got back to the entrance point we had walked a very very long way. We were utterly done. Staggered back to the hotel. It was a night for fried chicken from the convenience store. Number Five did us in – but Wilf has the Five National Treasures ticked off of his bucket list!

Author: Sharon

I like to make things. I like to travel. I like to talk about what I'm up to.

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