Osaka / Himeji - White castle and arcade shopping

On Tuesday morning Yuko took Oli, Verena and me on a little road trip to Himeji. She had told us that now would be the perfect time to visit the castle there because it had just been renovated and was all shiny and white - in a few years it would fade back to grey.

The drive took about 1,5 hours which Yuko called "not far" :-) About a third of it alone was spent driving out of Osaka which is really huge with its about 8.8 million inhabitans!

The castle is indeed very beautiful - as you will see from many angles!
But the work on it is not completely finished yet.
Totally overgrown tree on the way up
Posing with a double castle
Getting closer...
A plan of the original castle - only the inner buildings remain but it's still quite big.
Lovely park view
We walked through the long corridor in the west wing. This is a look out through the window.
And a look in - as you can see, the main tower is quite a distance away!
300 meters of corridor!
Living quarters of the princess' maids
Lovely couple
Live-sized dolls representing princess Sen and her lady in waiting playing cards with poems on them.
The corridor from outside
Shooting hole

This is as far as we could get - the rest of the castle will only be open again after March 2015. It's totally worth a visit!
Thick walls

Different family crests

There was a small museum hall. These are examples of the fish creatures that can be seen on the roof. They are really big!
Originals and replicas of samurai armour
More castle views

Outside of the outer walls
Yuko, Olivier and Verena
We had to go a bit further away to get everything on one picture!
Himeji street design
There are still a lot of traditional style houses here, complete with trimmed trees.
It was already mid-afternoon and time for lunch. Yuko had found a recommendation for a small but good ramen restaurant, so we went there. The place was very simple and had no menu - you just get ramen, that's it! And it was indeed delicious.

After arriving back in Osaka we still had some time which Oli and me used for another shopping excursion. This totally counts as cultural experience!

Instead of one of the big department stores we chose to go to another shopping arcade, as they are typical for Osaka. You can walk on for a loooong time and see many little shops.
I also like to check out kitchen supply shops, they often have things that are specific to a country - like this chop stick display.
Of course we went to the 100 Yen shop and bought a bunch of small things!
Oli's idea of fun: a seaweed shop...
This entire wall has nothing but fake eye lashes! Talk about beauty priorities...
There were severall Pachinko halls.
People are playing their time away. By the way, you don't win money here but food!
Loads of little restaurants for all kinds of tastes.

Holding up the lantern :-)
Among the things I bought were these cute tabi socks.
In the evening we all went for a walk together. First to pick up Shinichi from work. As almost everybody in the family he works in the medical field. 
He has a little clinic for ambulant treatments and operations and proudly showed us around the various rooms and his big machines.

Then we continued our way through the nightly Osaka.
We went to this Chinese restaurant.
It's interesting to see that Chinese food is different here, the dishes don't come in as much sauce as they do in Europe.

Everybody ate until we just could't anymore!