I decided to go to Okazaki Castle today, to continue my Tokugawa-themed weekend. The weather started out really nice today, so I just wore a T-shirt and my black windbreaker, because it was a little windy.
There are two options to get to the Castle from where I live. Option one: walk/bike there. It’s about 3 miles away, so it’ll take about 30 minutes or so. I would also have to walk/bike back. Option two: take the train. Sounds much faster, but it isn’t. Upside is that at least by taking the train, I don’t use up too much energy to do so. (Other than the energy it takes to get to JR Okazaki.)
On the way to the station, I took a few photos:
The bike shop that moved out a few weeks ago has already been turned into a flat lot. That was fast.
I pass by this rice field every day on the way to school. It’s a little strange having a rice field in the middle of a sprawling suburban city like Okazaki, but it’s also kind of cool.
I like the dog’s expression in this sign:
To get to the castle, I needed to take the Aichi Line, and one thing to keep in mind is that the Aichi Line isn’t run by JR. It’s a different company, so I needed a different ticket, which I could buy outside of the wicket.
Like a doofus, I used my SUICA card, and caused all sorts of problems when I got to the station near Okazaki Castle. I’m sure they see that all the time, though. A few hundred yen and a ticket later, everything was solved.
The Matsudairas’ Place
I got to Okazaki Castle Park, and made my way to the castle.
Here’s a map so we don’t get lost:
First, the park. This bridge leads to a shrine I didn’t go to, but it’s very photogenic:
The park was very pretty, and I bet it would be even more so in Spring.
The castle itself is five stories high, and hiding behind a couple of pine trees.
There were two tickets available. For 200 yen, you can just go up the castle, or for 500 yen, you can go up the castle and to the Ieyasu and Mikawa Bushido Museum next door. I paid 500 yen, because it sounded like a good deal to me.
As I climbed up the donjon, I took a look at the various exhibits about Okazaki’s various feudal lords, and some of the stuff they found on the site. Nothing particularly earth-shattering, but interesting if you live in Okazaki, and can read/speak Japanese.
One fact of note: it’s not the original castle. Most of the castles you see in Japan aren’t original. Many were torn down after the Meiji Restoration, or were destroyed in World War II. Most were rebuilt in the 1950s to spur on tourism, and/or preserve history, depending on your point of view. How accurate they are is a good question.
I made it to the 5th floor observation deck, and the wind was just howling. It must have been around 30-40 MPH, and it was cold. I was starting to regret my wardrobe choice. I really need more warm clothes. It’s getting chilly here!
There was a chain link fence up all around the balcony, so I couldn’t use my Canon EOS to take pictures.
This is what happens with a regular SLR:
Instead, I snuck the lens of my IXY through the gaps in the grid to get some decent shots of the Okazaki skyline. About as decent as you’ll get for a 13,000 yen camera, anyway.
I knitted some of the shots into a panorama or two. The first one is a wee bit wobbly if you zoom in on it at Flickr.
I headed down and took some photos of the park and the exterior of the castle and the museum, and went inside.
A statute of Motoyasu Matsudaira (who I’m pretty sure became Tokugawa Ieyasu):
A really cool clock made out of flowers:
Another interesting clock closer to the museum:
Finally, the Ieyasu and Mikawa Bushido Museum:
The museum is all about the Tokugawas and the battle of Sekigahara. Pretty interesting stuff, if you know your Japanese history. (I’m a little shaky.) They had the famous spear Tonbogiri as well. Well, the spearhead, anyway. One of Ieyasu’s generals wielded that one.
They had a neat exhibit where you could try lifting some mock weapons to see how heavy the real things were, and they had some armor you could try on to see how “comfortable” it was. Not bad for 300 yen.
If you have kids, that might be pretty fun if you’re in or near Okazaki for the day. Not fun enough to bring them across Japan to see it, unless they’re really big history buffs, but fun if you’re close by.
Yeah, I Like Shodo, So Sumi!
After that, I headed off to Anjo to pick up some calligraphy brushes for a friend of mine back in the US. I found a promising-looking shop by doing lots of searching online in Google Maps. The tricky bit is knowing what search terms to use. That took a bit of work, actually.
Leaving the park and heading back to the station to go to Anjo:
I took the Meitetsu line to Shin-Anjo and walked about half a kilometer to the shop. The lady there helped me a lot. She showed me some of their brushes, and let me try one out with water and one of those sheets that you can write with water on. You write with water on it, and it gets dark, then as it dries, it goes back to being all the same color again. It’s good for practicing calligraphy, or just for trying out brushes, but keep in mind that water does not flow like real ink does.
I found a good brush for my friend for around 3,000 yen (which is a good price for a practice brush), and then started searching for good practice-grade paper. I learned a lot about paper that day from the shop owner.
I have so much to learn about calligraphy, that I could probably spend the rest of my life on that alone and not even get close to mastering it. But I did find some good practice paper. I got 1,000 sheets for myself, and I’ll come back before I leave to pick up 1,000 more for my friend.
We chatted a bit in Japanese. I keep saying it, but it’s true: knowing some Japanese is the key to having everything go smoothly here.
Why? Because she gave me some freebies and a discount, too!
I think seeing a foreigner who could speak Japanese and write with a brush come to her shop to buy calligraphy supplies made her day. It was a great experience for me, too.
By the time I finished up with my purchases, it was already dark, and time to head home. As I opened the shop door to leave, the first thing that I noticed was that it was freezing outside.
Note to self: next time, check the weather forecast before you go out!
Also, buy some warmer gear!