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Throughout April, we as students of the study abroad program, have just been sightseeing and doing whatever we want while attending classes, but April 21st came our first mandatory field trip, a weekend in Wakayama prefecture. We went to all sorts of places, but for today, I will cover our first destination, the Wakayama Castle (wiki).
8:20 in the morning, fellow study abroad classmates together with some Japanese students gather at the meet up spot. Our comfy ride is pictured on the right.
Two hours later, of which I probably spent asleep, we arrived not at Wakayama, but a resting place where you can go to the restroom or buy snacks and refreshments. There was this odd structure on the right side that looked like a castle, but was obviously not. I wonder what it was?
A closer look at the stalls where you can buy all sorts of food to drool over, such as the iconic taiyaki or takoyaki. On the left was a moderately big store, where you can buy some packaged food amongst other things.
Another hour later, this was what I saw when I stepped off the bus, the Wakayama Castle!
We had a tour guide that lead the way and talked about the history of the castle. While she was busy talking about this garden that we had to pass through, I snapped some photos. I tried to listen, but by now I had forgotten everything the tour guide said. Sorry. ^^;
Without a doubt, it was a beautiful place. The water so green and its surface so calm.
Kind of funny that we just passed by this place. I would liked to have stayed longer and take in the atmosphere, but alas, there was nowhere to sit.
Out of the gardens, the road came to a sudden stop with a sign pointing left and right. I still can’t read it, but we went to the left.
This is a famous bridge, if I remembered correctly. In the background, you can see the buildings of the city perking high above. This is one of the odd things you will encounter in Japan, an old traditional castle in the middle of a metropolis. It does break the sense of immersion when you can see or hear the city, but go further into the hills up to the castle and you will forget about the city being right there.
Along the way were small gardens of various flowers. They fragrant the area.
The battle for us fat, out-of-shape foreigners begin. No joke, some were utterly exhausted by the time they reached the top. Meanwhile, old Japanese men and women strolled on like normal. A lot of walking is indeed something you will encounter in Japan.
I can see the castle! We are almost there.
And the view out to the city down below was quite nice as well. We have came up quite high already.
At last, the entrance to the Wakayama Castle. The entire walk took only about 10 – 15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer than that.
I did not take any photos of the inside of the castle. I don’t remember whether if photos were not allowed or if there was no chance to take photos, or maybe I simply forgot to. But here are some photos of a garden as we move from building to building. Some spaces inside were used for exhibitions, such as samurai armor and etc. For me, the most fun was up at the highest tower.
PS: Some of the stairs were so steep that they might as well have been vertical ladders.
In the highest room of the tallest tower was this model of the castle. But more imortantly…
Nothing could beat this view!
The room had four doorways, each facing North, East, West, and South, that takes you onto a balcony that goes all the way around. The view is absolutely fantastic and the video was recorded just in time for the chime.
A bunch of people hanging out in what seems to be a nice park.
I think that the view here was worth the entire trip to Wakayama already. I spent quite some time out on the balcony glazing out into the distance as I ponder about myself and Japan. It was a surreal feeling, the fact that I was here in Japan.
Before I get left behind, I realized that it was time to leave and I get down from the room and tower.
And back down the hill we go. However, we took a different path than the one we took to come up. Neat, more new things to see.
I loved walking through this space. Despite being so wide, there was still a tree canopy above. And despite the green and fresh tree canopy, the ground was covered in fallen leaves. It was awesome walking through this space.
After a few minutes, we got down back to the streets. I spotted some pretty flowers, so I took some pictures of them. I think these are sakura.
Even after all of that, it was only 12:40pm. Lunch time! The meal provided was ok. It wasn’t bad, but it was kind of small and left more to be wanted. After eating this, I had to go help a buddy take some photos of him in some fake samurai armor holding a fake katana. You can borrow those stuff for free apparently. ^^;
After everyone has gathered and ate, we got back onto the bus and headed towards our second destination, Mt. Kouya.