I've mentioned already that I've made some concessions on this trip - locations are being skipped, plans are being reshuffled, etc. Today was no different and the rest of the trip will get a major makeover too.
I set off for Himeji about two hours late, arriving just before 11. Stopping at the tourist center to check the bus schedule for the amusement park, I came to find that the famous Himeji Castle was covered in scaffolding, and will be for another two years. That certainly made decisions easier for the lost time, but Himeji Castle is one of the most famous in Japan. It'll have to wait, though.
So I killed about 40 minutes before the bus to Himeji Central Park departed. Running about once every two hours, in either direction, I didn't have much of a choice. I ran through scenarios in my head on the way there - if I stayed for two hours I could ride everything I wanted once and move on. If I found something so great that I wanted to go again, I'd have to spend four hours there.
It turns out that I could do the entire amusement park easily in those two hours. I rode all the coasters and a few of the other rides that I really wanted to go on, and I didn't rush through since there were absolutely no lines in the park. Like Hirakata Park, it suffered from a lack of great re-ridable attractions and signature rides. Fun for a family, but nothing great for couples or adults.
I should mention that the park has a safari that you can drive and walk through. Or take a bus through if you want. It costs extra (or the free ride pass costs extra depending on how you approach things) so I chose the option without the safari. And despite the name "Central Park" it isn't central in any way. The 25-minute bus ride takes you way out of town. But it's a cute, if generally generic, amusement park.
So I made it back to Himeji Station before 4pm, stopping for lunch there as well. It turns out that coming right back was the right choice because I got to Kyocera (Osaka) Dome right before the gates opened for the game. Not that there was a sellout. Hardly! The park was pretty empty except for the cheering sections, and I think the visiting Marines fans outnumbered the hometown Buffaloes fans. The game, like yesterday's, saw the visiting team take a strong lead early (though the Bs weren't shut out). I sat in the outfield bleachers up top, with a pretty good view of everything except deep right-center. I really enjoyed the massive double-hot dog in a French bread baguette. It was delicious and worth the ¥600 for ballpark food.
In the seventh inning, a balk was called against the Marines that resulted in a runner scoring from third. The Marines must have protested the call because it was reviewed by the umpires and took quite a while. They didn't reverse the call though, and I wonder what the penalty is for appealing a call unsuccessfully. If there is one.
Tomorrow, my restructured plans have me back in Kyoto. The Imperial Palace is closed due to the holidays (oops) and another temple has scaffolding on it (at least I did my research this time before the trip) so I'm going to attempt to combine two days into one and have more free time on Sunday to chill around Osaka. Meanwhile, this baseball game is almost over and if the Marines don't win they will have blown a four-run lead in the ninth.
So until Kyoto calls tomorrow...