A Travellerspoint blog

November 2006

Hiroshima - Day 2

One of the top three most beautiful spots in Japan

For the second day we decided to head over to Miyajima. Miyajima is a small island and it has a large temple. It also has a a large otori (orange gate). It is built out in the water when the tide is high it looks like it is floating but when the tide is out you can walk out to it. I suppose it's kind of like the Five Islands.

The O-torii Gate in Miyajima is one of the top three most photographed places in Japan. After being there we understand why. This is it.

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Also, the cynic in Courtney popped out and she decided that if Miyajima was saying they were in the top 3 it really meant they were number 3. Her theory was that if they were number 2, they would have said the top 2. I suppose it is good logic.

We had to catch a 10 minute ferry ride over to the island.


We managed to get off the ferry and slip in front of a tour group and behind this group of school kids.


We picked a path and walked towards the gate and took the required pictures. Along our way to the gate we passed the Itsukushima Shrine. This is a very large shrine that is built out into the water.

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We continued on through the town and went in to the history and folklore museum. It was a preserved family house. The family was a merchant family from the 19th century. Here are a few good shots from inside the museum.

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After the museum we made our way along to, you'll never guess it, the aquarium. When you travel with Courtney and there's an aquarium nearby it's a pretty good bet that you will go visit it. Here are some good pictures from the aquarium.

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After the aquarium we headed back towards the town. There was a ropeway we were going to go up, but first we needed to get something to eat. Once we found a restaurant we didn't have time to go up the ropeway. We figure next time we'll go up. It is oyster season right now and both Hiroshima and Miyajima are very famous for their oysters. Usually people grill them up on the side of the street and sell them. Just like this. But Courtney had hers with udon noodles.


We also wandered around the little town for a while. We found a couple crazy stores. The first one had all these crazy carvings. They were all beautiful but also obnoxiously big. They were also quite expensive. The first one is of two men playing go, a Japanese strategy game, and the second one is of some masks.

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We also went into another store that had a forest out back and sold everything and some woman had the biggest bouffant hair-do Courtney had ever witnessed.

Miyajima also has the world largest rice scoop. Rice scoops were invented here and spread throughout Japan. This scoop weighs over 1 tonne.


One of the big things in Japanese culture is buying souvenirs for other people. But, the thing they got right is that they usually buy sweets for each other. Which means you don't end up with a house full of knick knacks you can just eat all the souvenirs. Also every town or area is famous for a specific treat so you know exactly what to get. We also won't mention that most people buy these sweets at the train station or airport on their way home. We stopped, ate, bought and watched some of the famous Miyajima sweets, momiji manju, being made. The process was very cool to watch. Our pictures sort of turned out.

On Miyajima, as in Nara, there are very tame deer. People feed these deer and pet the deer all the time. We saw this deer and we didn't know if he was just eating or wanted to visit the shrine too. I think he was just eating.


There was also this poor sucker that got mobbed by a lot of deer.


After lunch and wandering around we had to make our way home. It was about a four hour drive and we had to have the car back by 8:00 (or so we thought; as it turned out, they close at 7).

We made it back home with lots of time to get the car back by 8:00 which was good. Until this happened. I was driving to take the car back and I was pulling into the right turning lane and I cut it too close and clipped another guy's mirror with my mirror. The light was red and I saw the guy get out of the car and start to walk up to my car. I rolled down the window and he started to yell at me in Japanese. I had no idea what he was saying. He couldn't speak Enlgish, but I know he said "Police" a few times. I figured it wasn't that bad and there was no way I was going to the Police station with him. The light turned green and the people behind us started honking he got in his car and I had no where to go so I started to go back to the rental agency. He followed me and eventually got in front of me and pulled over. We got out again, by this time he realized I didn't know any Japanese and yelling at me wasn't doing him any good. I took my rental sheet out and tried to explain that he should follow me there. He didn't get that. Eventually he understood that it was rental, smiled and gestured that I shouldn't tell the rental agency about it and he left. So it all worked out in the end. Thank god.

It was an exciting end to our latest adventure. Also here are a lot more pictures from our trip.

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Posted by agc_cwm 19:44 Archived in Japan Comments (1)

Hiroshima - Day 1

The city that rose from the dead

Thursday was a holiday. At first someone explained it was Thanksgiving Labour Day or Thanks for Labour day. It turns out that it was just Labour Day or more importantly we had the day off. We decided on to go away for a few days and decided to go to Hiroshima.

We booked a hotel on Monday night and checked out shinkansen (the bullet train) tickets, but they were going to be ¥40,000 ($400) return total for us. Using our travel motto, "we can do it for cheaper" we decided to rent a car and drive down. We ended up saving about ¥15,000 ($150) so it was a good decision.

We left early Thursday morning around 9:00 and headed out. We plugged our hotel in our GPS and took off. Cultural note: When you drive here there are toll roads everywhere. You can get on the expressway and drive faster, but you have to pay a toll depending on how long you go for. For example or toll from Osaka to Hiroshima was about ¥7500 ($75) for about 350 kms. But, even with these tolls it was still cheaper than the shinkansen. One of my students told me that it was supposed to rain on Thursday. It wasn't raining when we left, but it was raining by the time we arrived in Hiroshima, which seemed oddly appropriate. We figured that going to the Peace Museum and the A-Bomb dome needed to be done on a rainy day not a sunny happy day.

Andrew made great time navigating to our hotel (with the help of our onboard GPS). We were on the 11th floor of our hotel and it had a great view out over the river and the city.

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We got settled in and made our way to the streetcar stop to connect to the Peace Park.

The first thing we happened upon was the A-bomb dome. The bomb was detonated in August 6, 1945 at 08:15, about 600m above this building. It was formerly the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It was one of the few buildings left standing within a 2km radius of the explosion. It is in the same condition that it was the day that the bomb was detonated (well, they had to restore it in the mid 90's because it was falling down. But they restored it to how it was on August 6, 1945).

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This is a shot of a steel beam and how it was bent.


Then we made our way to the Children's Peace Monument. There was a girl named Sadako who was diagnosed with leukemia 10 years after the bomb was dropped. One of the beliefs in Japan is that if you fold 1000 paper cranes then a wish will come true. She started to fold 1000 paper cranes but she died before she finished. The rest of her classmates finished folding all the cranes for her. After that they built the Children's Peace Monument and people send cranes from all over the world.

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When Courtney was in grade 6 her teacher taught them how to fold cranes and they sent them to Hiroshima. Because of this she spent all her free time between when we decided to go to Hiroshima and when we left folding cranes. It was only about two days, and what with working, she only ended up having 11 cranes ready to go when we got there. She registered them and placed them near the monument. Some of the cranes and displays that people made were fantastic. Here are a few shots.

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This display is made of a lot of small folded cranes.


But, my favorite one was a display from Bradford, Ont. Only because they had to give three reasons how they would help world peace and Austin from Bradford said this...


If you can't read it, it says...

I can help the world be a peaceful and here are three ways how. First, I will be kind to others. Next, I will be quiet. Finally, I will pick up garbage.
Austin, Bradford, Ont.

We were very entertained by this. It is such a Canadian kid thing to say.

After the Children's Peace Memorial we made our way up towards the Peace Museum. We passed the centotaph for the A-Bomb Victims. The kanji on the front says, "Let all the souls here rest in peace; For we shall not repeat the evil." You can see through the cenotaph and see the flame of peace. This flame will be put out when the last nuclear weapon on earth is destroyed and finally you can see the A-Bomb Dome.


The Peace Museum was only ¥50 ($0.50) to enter which was a real bargain I think. I don't have a whole lot to say about the Peace Museum, maybe Courtney will have more to add, I think it is something everyone should see. I don't know who said this but it goes something like this, "One death is a tradegy, but 100,000 is a statistic" (it sounds like Churchill, but I'm not sure). For me the Peace Museum changed my perspective from the 100,000 people to each individual person. It was a thought provoking afternoon.

After we left the Peace Museum with went over to the Korean Victims Monument. There were a lot of enslaved Korean workers that were killed by the bomb so they created a monument for them. And we went to the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound. There is a cinerarium underneath this mound that housed the ashes of 70,000 people that they hadn't been able to identify. Currently there are only about 1000 that remain unclaimed.

By this time it was pouring down rain so we decided to go get some food and find somewhere indoors to hide out. We went to check out the movie theaters, but all that was playing was "Flags of our Fathers" and "Letters from Iwa-jima" two WWII movies and we both decided that we'd had enough WWII for today. So we continued on our journey.

We stopped in to a coffee shop to warm ourselves and steel ourselves for the next journey. We did a lot shopping and went to an okonomiyaki restaurant. The region we live in is called Kansai. Kansai is famous for takoyaki (fried octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (kind of like a pancake, but completely different). Hiroshima makes a similar okonomiyaki but with a twist. Everyone says you have to try it so we did. It turns our Hiroshima-yaki is better than Kansai-style okonomiyaki. While we were sitting an American couple came up and sat at the grill next to us. We had a good chat with them while we ate.

After supper we had to go walk off all the food. We wandered along a covered shopping arcade, where Courtney finally found a pair of polarized sunglasses to replace the ones that broke months ago. We wandered along the arcade until we realized we had already been there. After that we decided to go check out and do some karaoke.

We kicked ass pretty hard for a couple of dead sober Canadian kids. Here's Court rockin out on some Meatloaf.

I'm not sure what I'm singing maybe Foo Fighters or Franz Ferdinand.


And this is us doing some Bon Jovi to wrap up the night.

We originally signed up to do 1 hour, but that just wasn't long enough. We ended up doing 2 hours. Plus it took us about 30 minutes to get warmed up. Court decided to start us off with some Bee Gees to start the evening off. Which is a bad idea because no one can sing like Robin or Barry or the other Gibb (aside: it jumped off the page. He told me to put in a song and I put in the first one I looked at ~CW). Especially when they can't sing and aren't warmed up. Needless to say our performances improved as the night went on. [Side Note: Karaoke in Japan is different than Canada. It's not like going to the Oasis where everyone gets to see you perform. Here you rent out a small room and you and your friends have your own private karaoke machine and room. There's a phone that you can use to call and order more drinks or food. It's a pretty good system I think.]

After we finished up the karaoke session we picked up some snacks and made our way back to our hotel where we promptly crashed after a long full day.

Posted by agc_cwm 06:02 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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