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Castle Himeji is arguably the best castle complex in Japan and its most visited. Its current form was complete in 1618. While the city of Himeji was shelled during WW2, the castle itself was left unharmed. Himeji is a roughly hour and a half train ride from Kyoto. When we left Kyoto the weather was hot and humid as usual but the skies were unthreatening. Everything looked good on the train over... until the last couple miles into Himeji... then it came down in sheets.

Before Kyoto was the Capitol, there was Nara, which was the Capitol from 710 to 784. The main reason for moving to Kyoto from Nara was to get away from the perceived over-influence of Buddhism on the Imperial court. Although the Capitol moved, Nara remained very influential culturally for many centuries. Today, Nara still contains a huge preserved area that holds the largest number of buildings designated as National Treasures in Japan, and many UNESCO recognized World Heritage sites.

Three planes and a shuttle ride later... Man, it was tough getting plane tickets to come to Kyoto. First off, Kyoto doesn't have an airport. How many cities of 1.5 million people don't have an airport? Anyhow, Osaka has two. So... Sacramento to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Osaka and then a 1+ hour shuttle to Kyoto. Secondly, I couldn't find two roundtrips for less than $2000 a person. That wasn't going to happen. However, I could find two roundtrips and a hotel for $1600 a person. I don't know how that works, but it's good enough for me.

I finally put up what survived from my Ireland 1996 pictures along with my comments that had been recorded in ink on various random stationery. I broke the camera late into this trip, so just to fill in the blanks, for my own sake, I slapped up some stolen photos of places I went but had no pictures for.

All the Amsterdam stuff for your viewing and reading pleasure.

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