Kamakura and Himeji

For the long weekend last weekend, I had a jam-packed itinerary planned that included a daylong photography workshop in Kamakura followed by two nights in Himeji.

Although the weather forecast initially promised clouds and rain, it was a gorgeous day to photograph the plum blossoms and many temples.

After a four-hour train ride, I arrived around 8 PM in Himeji headed straight for the onsen. I’ve stayed at other Dormy Inns around Japan, and the gorgeous onsen was incredibly relaxing, with flower-embossed paper lanterns and solemn traditional shamisen music floating in the steamy air. I loved the open-air bath under the stars, and shared the onsnes with kind Japanese women of all ages.

The next morning, I got an early start by visiting the gorgeous gardens next to the iconic castle. I actually preferred the gardens to the castle; although described as “small,” there were many themed gardens (pine, bamboo, cherry, flowers) and it felt much more expansive. They also had beautiful bonsai plum trees on display, some of which looked ancient.

After climbing to the top of the castle, I decided to head for mount Shosha,  a 30-minute bus ride outside of the city followed by a cable car ride and very steep hike.

The path up the mountain to the temple, where the Last Samurai was filmed, offered gorgeous views of the fields and valleys below as well as unique Buddhist sculptures.

I caught an early-morning train back to Tokyo on Monday, and snapped some stunning scenery along the way. I hit Shinagawa at rush hour, but like all things in Japan, it was organized for efficient moving of massive amounts of commuters and everything went smoothly.

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