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玄宮園 Genkyuu-en – May 19th, 2012

Currently, we are at the entrance to Genkyuu-en, which is a garden nearby the Hikone castle. Just a 5 minute walk in fact. The Hikone Castle itself can also be seen from the garden. If you remember, the person in red was our tour guide for the Hikone Castle, and she is still here for Genkyuu-en as well. However, upon entering the garden, I immediately went my own way and so I ended up knowing nothing about this place, as I didn’t get to hear anything she may have said. Apparently, there isn’t even a Wikipedia page.

The wonderful sight you will see when you get into the garden.

On the right side, somewhat dryer looking. I don’t believe that you are allowed to go inside those buildings. I could be wrong, but the fences and lack of people around them indicated so.

A couple photos of the area with bridges leading up to the buildings. The two side by side photos almost connect for an elongated view.

Walking around for a wide view of the scenery behind the buildings.

Off to the left was an area that looked perfect to take a nap at. No such luxury of time to lie in the grass and nap, unfortunately.

A perfect view of the Hikone Castle at this location. The scenery of the garden together with the castle in the near distance made for a wonderful sight.

Another photo at a slightly different angle.

An little area with interesting trees and shallow water.

A look back across the large pond towards the seemingly old buildings.

If you are visiting the Hikone Castle, I highly recommend visiting this garden as well, since it is literally right next to the castle.

Classmates spotted on the other side. I guess it was about time to leave.

As we transition to another destination after exiting the garden, I took a photo of a random statue and spotted some people cruising along in a boat.

By then, it was about noon. But before our bus comes to pick us up for lunch, we had about half an hour to freely explore Kyoubashi. In the photo above, you can clearly see a bridge, but the part of Kyoubashi that we were interested in is to the right of the photo.

What is so special about this part of town is that here, a collection of traditional Japanese houses remained through time. The street shown above was lined with shops, some selling food and some selling merchandise. Since it was time for lunch soon, me and a friend resisted buying food, but we gave in to wanting some ice-cream. The shop was having some problems with their machine, so I don’t remember if we actually bought some or not.

A couple shots of the periphery area surrounding the main street. How much would it cost to live around here I wonder.

12:50pm, and this was where my university had made arrangements to eat lunch at.

On our menu was this tray of various dishes. I cannot possibly begin to tell you what much of this stuff was. Interestingly, this tray had a mix of hot and cold food, which wasn’t something I was used to prior to Japan. Choosing what to eat first was also a dilemma that everyone had to deal with.

Just by looking at these photos, the image of another person’s tray of food sitting across from me gives the illusion that there was more food than there actually was for myself. The table wasn’t very big as you might be able to guess.

The main dish that we were here for in this restaurant however, was this. When everyone was ready, somebody came by and lit the underside, which cooked the raw ingredients on top. It was pretty awesome to see as it happened in person. If you look at the prior photos, the meat was the thing that everyone had their eyes on.

After you eat the meat, you will be left with what is in the left photo. While you can take your chopsticks and pick up the food in there, why not just pour it into a bowl and eat it like a soup? Every drop of it tasted amazing. A classmate only ate the meat and didn’t want the remaining, so I had a second satisfying bowl.

After a very fulfilling lunch, we still have one more destination in Hikone before returning to Kyoto. As we were about to leave on our bus, our program coordinator dashed back into the restaurant, realizing that he forgot to pay the bill. Yes, the cost of 30+ students’ fancy meal almost slipped by.

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