A long long time ago…in a land far far away…there was a lady with powdery-white face, blackened teeth, and brows in the middle of her forehead. She retreated to a mountain temple and came up with an epic tale “on the night of the full moon.”
Part of what made visiting Himeji Castle truly exhilarating – and exhausting – was the fact that the donjon could be scaled up to its top, treating visitors with a panoramic view of Himeji City from its famous castle.
I had seen posh palaces, towering temples, and formidable fortresses, but a castle complex eluded me – until I got to Himeji, a quaint little city near Kobe. Himeji-jo (jo being castle in Nihongo) was completed in the early 1600s, yet it stood as the best-preserved castle in Japan, even emerging unscathed from WW2 bombings.
Less than two weeks before my flight to Japan, WHO declared the swine flu, or A(H1N1) flu, outbreak, a pandemic. By then, the virus had circled the Pacific Rim, having started in Mexico on that side of the ocean and now spreading like a viral Susan Boyle video in the Asia-Pacific region.