Doctor Yellow

Leaving Yonago this morning, Mt. Daisen stuck its head up into the clouds. Along the way to Okayama, cherry trees in full bloom bathed the valleys in clouds of white. One of the towns we passed had the poetic name of “Neu 根雨” which means “Rain falling on tree roots”. The names of many Japanese places are so charming. “Yasugi 安来” where we went to the museum translates to “Come in Peace”.  “Himeji 姫路” where the awesome castle is below, translates to “Princess Road”.We paused for a break to take in the splendor of Himeji Castle. A big change from even a few years ago is the number of foreign tourists all over Japan. The crowds at Himeji were from all over the world, including a middle aged man from Italy groaning about having to take his shoes off to enter the castle. If you are planning to visit Japan, wear shoes that you can quickly remove as you have to take them off to enter many castles, temples, shrines, many inns, and businesses.
A highlight of the day was seeing a Doctor Yellow train at Nagoya station. Doctor Yellow is the name given to the inspection train which travels back and forth along the train lines inspecting the rail lines. It’s considered good luck to see one, and when this one appeared out of the blue and briefly stopped, a crowd swarmed around to take a picture. Passing Mt. Fuji on the way to Tokyo was a welcome surprise after many rainy days. Seeing Doctor Yellow has already brought good luck.We travelled some 450 miles by train today, stopping for several hours in Himeji, and then again for several hours in Nagoya, to pick up a stainless steel tofu press I ordered from a tofu machine maker earlier this spring. Having fast trains that leave every ten minutes or so makes all the difference in the world. You can zip from one town to the next with ease without worrying about the time. Another train will be by soon to swoop you up and hurl you to your next destination.

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