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Friday, June 26th, 2009. 9:43pm Japan Time.
Today, we packed our things and said good-bye to Kyoto. I had to keep reminding myself of how different it would be if I could understand what everyone is saying all of the time, and if I had a job and was coming home to school work like I soon will be. Even doing so, I couldn't help enjoying the fresh air as I showered with the window slightly open and thinking that I feel more like myself here than I do in America. Still, I would miss my friends if I stayed in Japan. I hope they're missing me, too!
We took the Japan Rail to Hiroshima today, and I feel lucky that we once again had brilliant sunshine to greet us there. Since it is their rainy reason, it seems that we have been really fortunate with outrunning the rain. :) At first, I was really excited to get to Hiroshima and see the history there, but as I saw our first memorial, the only standing remains of a building from the first a-bomb dropped in history, it quickly became very solemn. Even after talking to Terinati about it and understanding why it happened, and seeing how the local people here were clearly beyond hating America, if they ever did, I still felt the sorrow from that building, pain never to be forgotten. I'm glad that they decided to preserve it, because otherwise there would be nothing left to demonstrate the true horror of the a-bomb. Everything has been rebuilt, the park with all of its peace memorials is beautiful, so it would be easy to take it lightly without seeing it for yourself. Not even the mound where they buried the ashes of those who were killed that day bring it home as well as that structure did.
I tried hard not to cry, but then we saw a memorial for a girl who had leukemia from the radiation of the a-bomb, I lost it. She had been trying to create 1000 origami cranes before she died, because it is said that if you do so, you can have a wish granted. I think she only made it to 644 before she died, and then her loyal classmates took up the job of finishing the rest on her behalf. :( That sort of stuff always makes me cry. It's a reminder of how good the human spirit can be, even in the face of disaster. It only got harder from there, and I was glad to be wearing sunglasses.
But, Hiroshima isn't all about that, either. After visiting there and seeing the castle, we went through the many streets to shop. We were excited to find a gamers store that had many familiar favorites (the Zombies games, card games, D&D, Shadowrun, etc.), but not L5R. I was sad about that. :} After walking them for hours trying to find a place called Moss Burgers mentioned by Inside Japan Tours (they supposedly make Japanese-style burgers, and we were looking for the experience, but IJT said they were scattered around and we'd see one...), but we didn't see a single one, so we settled for a place called Straight Burgers. I have no idea what that means, but other than weird soda flavors and a different kind of taste to the meat, my meal tasted pretty typical of those kinds of things. Terinati's burger, however, had some weird sauce and a cooked egg in it. Like, the whole egg, not mashed up or anything. It was interesting at least.
Also, while having to use the restroom out in Hiroshima, I couldn't help but think that ever since that bathroom in Tokyo where there was no soap and no drier, most public bathrooms have been the same. And then it hit me! The Japanese don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom like we do! It's just like they don't say anything after someone sneezes! So, they probably have sinks for convenience, but not out of necessity like in America. What does it mean that a country so concerned with preventing illness that there hasn't been a single city I've been to yet without people wearing doctor's masks, doesn't wash its hands after using the restroom, something Americans think is a necessity to preventing the spread of disease? This begs the question . . . have any studies been done proving that it actually helps? I want to look into it more now, but it will have to wait until I have internet again . . . and free time.
So! After that, we headed back to the train station to take the train to Miyajima-guchi, where we took a ferry to our current location, Miyajima! The ferry ride was so beautiful! The water was sparkling as the sun was setting, and I took many pictures to try and capture the moment. Just into the island and off of the ferry was our stop, the Yamaichi Inn! Our hostess, who is also a lover of cats, speaks pretty good English and is very sweet and friendly. She prepared dinner for us, our only guests for tonight, and then we went out walking by the beach. We were very much not alone, as there were school children out, even at 8:30pm, led by whoever leads them (I would guess it's their teachers) to look at the torii gate in the water and such. There were also tour groups still running that late, even though almost all of the stores had closed by then! Nevertheless, it was a magical stroll, if only a little startling the first time we ran into a deer looking at us through the darkness. :}
Going back to the inn, it's quite amazing. This is the biggest space we've had yet, up on the third floor with two entrances, both a restroom and a restroom with a shower, a separate room for relaxing and drinking tea or watching TV, and then a separate bedroom. The space makes it feel luxurious, especially with all of the beautiful decorations and historical figures about. The inn looks equipped to handle very important business meetings, and it's literally right at the ferry, so it's great!
The only thing it needs? Internet. I'm really surprised how little internet availability there is if you want to utilize your own computer/laptop. But, there are only a few days left here (SADNESS!) before we head back to Tokyo and then home, so we'll see how it goes. For now, I'm exhausted and need some rest. Talk later!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Day 11 - Hiroshima and Miyajima
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Miyauchi Bekkan (I think that's the name of the place we stayed on Miyajima) was definitely the best accomodations we had while we were there. I could totally live in that room for the rest of my life, if only it had an internet connection. ;) Also, I'm pretty sure the burgers we had in Hiroshima were of the 'British' style - the fried egg on top also is not all that unusual, and is a common variant found in the US as well.ReplyDelete
As for the obsessive-compulsive need to wash our hands after using the bathroom... it's as subjective and ridiculous as the insistence that wearing a bathing suit in a public pool is somehow cleaner. Unless it's a skintight, full-body rubber condom, it's not gonna stop a single microbe from transferring from your disgusting uncleaned American body to that water. :P And if you don't wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom, there's no point in doing it after, unless you peed on your hands. And I for one am not in the practice of peeing on my hands. I usually wash my hands before I use the toilet, because I don't want the disgusting microbes that have gathered on my hands from all the things I've touched, to get on my privates.
We have a lot of stupid customs in America, that really reflect on how we are the most backwards country of the developed world. We haven't even switched to the metric system for crying out loud!