I followed the little stream and after a while, I came across a cemetery at the food of a mountain. The sign said there was a temple 2 km ahead, so I wanted to check it out since it wasn’t that far.
Not much later I found a hiking course after passing two more cemeteries. I could’ve gone straight ahead, as shorter and easier route I learned later, but I opted for the hiking course anyway. Mind you, I was wearing flip flops…
I was quite the adventure, with a bridge that was about to crumble, a superb view of the city below, lots of insects and spiders keeping me company along the way, an intriguing religious site with turtle-like statues (arranged in beautiful symmetry, on top of that), lots of stairs, meeting no one along the way until I got to the temple.
I was wandering around a few temple buildings, a jeep stopped and the driver rolled down his window. To my surprise, it was the head monk of the temple I was exploring! After inquiring about me, he told me to visit his wife and have a cup of tea, because he had some business to attend to. So I did. She was really kind, handing me one okashi (Japanese snacks) after the other. What she offered next was incredible nice of her! Though the temple was closed already, she opened the whole thing for me and took me inside. I’d never been inside a temple. I mean, I had seen the offering part (I don’t know what it’s called, that part of a temple where people throw in their money and pray), but never actually inside one.
While I was inside, being amazed by this whole situation and the temple, a Japanese couple arrived. Boy, were they lucky they monk’s wife had opened the temple for me! 😉
When I left, the kind lady told me to take the driveway to descend the mountain. Earlier, when I told her I’d hiked up the mountain, she said it was really dangerous and that I better took a safer way down. When I asked her why, she told me there were not only deer living on the mountain but also wild boars! I descended as she told me, venturing onto a path into the woods again for a moment. After a few hundred meters , I eventually decided to go back to the safe road, because if a boar would attack me, I would barely make it out alive on my flip flops… 😉
Descending, I got some beautiful views of the castle. Also, the monk passed me and waved at me excitedly. Such a kind man! After about 30 minutes I was in a village again. Actually it was still part of the city of Himeji, but once outside the city center it just feels like you’re in the countryside! Just when I passed through there, a fire started somewhere near me. The streets were full of thick smoke and people just started to wonder what happened. Really weird!
Further into the city, I discovered the first cosmos of the season. Autumn is definitely my favourite season and these flowers are one of the first signs. When I got back to the city center, I wanted to view the sunset from Egret’s rooftop (the building’s rooftop is open to the public, one of the secrets of Himeji Megumi told me about) but disappointment awaited me. The doors closed at 6 PM, the exact same time I reached the rooftop. I went home for a rest and returned to the guesthouse about an hour later.
Kyoko had promised me to take me to the recommended okonomiyaki place across the street. Unfortunately, she couldn’t leave the guesthouse due to circumstances so she quickly took me there, put me on a chair, ordered for me and left me. The owners were really nice people but the old guy (a customer) was half drunk and kept on babbling. I couldn’t understand a word! Later another customer arrived; a young guy who spoke some English and really good Spanish. He talked to me and asked to see the pictures I took. After a while, a new customer arrived and since the place was really small the younger guy left to make space for the new arrival. I had sat there for too long already so I took this opportunity to leave as well. I had been there for two hours!
I returned to 588 Guesthouse to use the WiFi for a bit. When Kyoko was about to leave, I went home as well and went to bed soon after.