After Kyoto, the next place I wanted to go was Hiroshima. The thing is, Kyoto-Hiroshima by local train is a ridiculously long ride. So I looked for another place to stop at in between. Himeji seemed to fit the bill. The only thing I knew about Himeji was the name and that it had a famous castle. So I booked a night at a little hostel next to that castle and went on my merry way.
I arrived in the morning. It was a nice warm sunny day. After dropping my stuff off at the hostel, I put my running shoes on and went on seeking a good running route. As I often do, I immediately headed for the nearest river hoping to find a nice path by the water. The way there was not very pleasant: heavy traffic, narrow sidewalk, many traffic lights… When I got to the river, I looked for a path. It was pretty disappointing. I found what seemed like a path but after about 150 meters, the asphalt turned into gravel, then into rocks, then into a muddy trail, then into a grassy open area… then nothing. I was stuck and had to go back. You know when I say that your best bet in urban areas is usually to head for a river? Well, in this case, it didn’t pay out. There was obviously nothing maintained on that river side.
Maybe there are other rivers in Himeji with gorgeous trails and perfect running routes, but the spot I randomly ended up at was definitely not one of them. Since I was in this city for only one day, I didn’t get a chance to explore other areas. Instead, I just decided to run back toward the castle and run around the castle’s grounds. That turned out quite nice actually. There were nice ponds and garden areas, a nice path going over some bridges. If I had known what the river looked like, I would just have run around the castle a few times. Each loop would be about 2.2 Km and there are plenty of nice things to look at even if you decide to go around 4 or 5 times.
When I was there (last March), the castle was being restored and was covered by big gray scaffoldings. I believe it will be like this until some time in 2015. So if you are planning on admiring this UNESCO world heritage site, you might want to wait until next summer at least. All things considered, Himeji is a nice place with a wide choice of restaurants and shops right outside the station. The park around the castle is worth seeing by itself. I’m glad I stopped by and I’m also glad it was only for a day…
Next stop: Hiroshima!