Sake, Castle, and Ship

We left Kyoto around 9 this morning on our way to Le Soleal, which will be our home for the next seven nights.

Our first stop was the Sawanotsuru Sake Museum and Brewery in Kobe. We watched a short video on sake-making in olden times (today, they use modern industrial techniques) and got to taste some of their sake and plum wine. Diane and I splurged 500 yen (about $3.30) to taste their premium sake (4400 yen for 720 ml); it was much nicer than the basic sake that was included in the visit.

We didn’t have time to visit their museum, but we did look around the grounds a bit and saw this Shinto shrine just outside the tasting room.

We continued on to Himeji for lunch and a visit to Himeji Castle, which is a beautiful place. We didn’t go into the castle itself (our guides said the interior was pretty bare and visitors spend most of their time trudging up and down stairs); instead, we saw lots of views of the castle. It’s the peak of peony season, so there was a special exhibition of peonies, too.

Le Soleal was waiting for us at the port of Himeji. We were met by a couple of interesting characters who were associated with a taiko drum group who serenaded us as we sailed away.

Le Soleal is a lovely ship, like all the Ponant ships we’ve been on. The food is great, the service attentive, and the Internet connectivity free and very limited. Expect short posts with just a few photos during the voyage.

We’re sailing the Inland Sea; the captain said that we should expect smooth sailing.