HEAVENLY HIMEJI

After a rest day at the World Cup yesterday, the action returned on Tuesday in Kobe for an encounter that was both a mismatch and a dead rubber. As expected, the Springboks crushed the Canadians with the minimum of fuss, running in ten tries to take the game 66-7. However, the Canadians did do well to restrict the South Africans to three tries in the second half and to score one themselves with a man disadvantage.

We had a look at Kobe itself last week, but Himeji, home of Japan’s largest and most famous castle, is just a little ways down the train track. I visited the city myself in my first summer in Japan, and I think it’s fair to say I was a little taken with it reading back the blog I wrote then. I wonder how I’d feel now after seeing so many other castles.

The Japanese themselves have nicknamed the castle either ‘White Egret Castle’ or ‘White Heron Castle’ due to the brilliant white that the castle regained after renovation in 2015. But it seems there’s no pleasing some, as it is now perhaps most famously known as ‘Too White Castle’.

A quick word to the wise on my experience of Japanese castles in general. With few exceptions, the exterior is far more impressive than the interior. If you want to just walk around the grounds, it is most often free, as they normally serve a double function as a park for local residents.

The Japanese love numbering and ranking their attractions. Himeji is one of Japan’s “three great castles”, alongside Kumamoto (mentioned yesterday) and Matsumoto. There are also “three great gardens”, which are located in Kanazawa, Okayama and Mito. I’ve been to all three of the castles and one of the gardens. They were all worth it.

Tomorrow is a day of reckoning for Scotland. They need to beat Russia, and they need to secure a bonus point. Even if they do manage that, it’s going to be a tall order facing the tournament hosts just four days later. Wales will also have the chance to all but secure first place in their pool against Fiji in the late game.

Today’s Match
South Africa 66-7 Canada (Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe)

Tomorrow’s Matches
Argentina vs USA (1345 JST) (Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya)
Scotland vs Russia (1615 JST) (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)
Wales vs Fiji (1845 JST) (Oita Stadium, Oita)

Expression of the day
白すぎ城へ行ったことがありますか ? (shiro sugi jou e itta koto ga arimasu ka)
Which means…
(Have you been to “Too White Castle”?)

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