30th October, 2006 - After walking around Himeji-jo, we still had a few hours left in the day. I had wanted to see Engyoji (one of the famous temples that lies up in the mountains around Himeji... and also one of the film locations for "Last Samurai"...). Alas, we found ourselves having to conserve our energies with T-chan starting to feel the effects of pregnancy more each day. So instead of tramping through the mountains, we visited the garden of Kokoen instead - which is conveniently right next to Himeji-jo.
This is a relatively new garden, opened in 1992 to commemorate 100 years of the Himeji City. It's a stroll-type garden... and that's exactly what you're encouraged to do.
From the small creek that wound through landscape, you could tell that water was going to be a major feature of the garden.
What we hadn't anticipated however was the number and size of the Koi - Japanese Carp - that were just as integral a part of the garden. And they clearly were interested in us!
It's not that I felt freaked out, but everywhere you turned there were small, glittering fish-eyes staring up at you. Apart from the constant feeling of being watched (and followed), they certainly added to the garden's colour and movement.
The garden certainly makes the most of the water motif... to the point where you are literally part of the scenery.
There was more to the garden than the Koi, and whilst it was a little too artificial (and calculated) in nature for me, it was a great place to explore on a sunny end-of-October afternoon.
There are nine separate garden-zones all up in this 3.5 Ha sanctuary - but I do think that honestly, the pond features are the best. Also, it's a good place to enjoy a tea ceremony if you haven't had the chance in Kyoto. Or just sit down and take in the calming vibes from the garden.
With one last glance at the walls of Himeji-jo in the distance, we say goodbye to Himeji and return to the train station... content.