What. A. Day.
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So anyways, yesterday morning we woke up early in Nara while there was still dew on the ground and hopped on a train to Hiroshima. Nara was awesome by the way, check back in a few days and I'll put up the pictures. When we got to Hiroshima we took a streetcar to our hotel, grabbed lunch and went to the atomic bomb museum and park
We woke up early that morning so that we could go to the peace museum then head to an island about an hour away. It's a big tourist island, probably just a little bigger than put-in-bay. We got to the port around 4ish and took a ferry over to the island. We took pictures and avoided all the deer, then before we left we decided to stick around for a little while to watch the sun set over the mountains. So yeah, at some point while we were on this island on the Pacific Ocean there was an earthquake and a tsunami that ravished the northern part of Japan. It was an 8.9 earthquake, the largest ever recorded in Japan. The whole time we were just strolling around on an island. We didn't feel any tremors, and the island is tucked back into the mainland in a bay that has a huge island in front of it that must have deflected the waves. We never knew anything happened.
We headed back to Hiroshima and people were in the streets handing out newspapers. I caught that the headline was about an earthquake, but thought they were referring to the one earlier in the week that was just very minor and far away. But eventually we grabbed one of the papers that was in English and then realized that something was really wrong.
Back at the hotel we turned on the t.v. and every channel was talking about it. On a lighter note, even during such a serious situation the Japanese have a goofy way of making it kind of funny since many of the reporters, even though absolutely safe and nobody else was, were wearing hard hats during the interviews
We tried not to freak out and tried to figure out our options. We seemed to have two of them, fly out of Hiroshima for a few grand through China with several layovers that took over 17 hours or try to get to Tokyo through all the madness and hope it cleared out by then. We didn't really like either of them. After staying up late trying to figure things out, we finally passed out. Before going to bed we shot an email to our travel agent who set up our flights, without much hope. She came through big time though. In the morning we had an email back from her saying that they could switch our flight to leave from Osaka, which is less than two hours from Hiroshima well before Tokyo. By the time we got it though, her office was closed an it was the weekend. We shot her an email back saying to book it. From there we headed to the train station, which was very busy, but not crazy, and luckily squeezed on a bullet train to Osaka
Upon arrival to Osaka, we quickly found out that its the second biggest city in Japan. To put it in perspective, if you took the GDP from Osaka alone, it would be larger than all but 9 other countries. There were people everywhere. We didn't have a hotel, and we weren't sure if we had plane tickets. An American at the train station recommended a hotel a short walk from the train station so we tried to head there, but it was madness. We were standing on a corner reading the map and a old lady tried to help us, but she didn't know where to go so she took us in the wrong direction. So we were standing on the street looking at the map and a guy came up and again tried to help us find where we were going and insisted on walking us there. He had absolutely no idea where he was going. So after wandering though an underground labyrinth for 15 minutes with heavy packs on we pretended like we found the hotel so he wouldn't feel bad.
There was a Starbucks next to the hotel though which just opened for the first time today. So we got on their internet and got a reply that our flight from Osaka is booked for no extra fee and will get us there on time, on actually a shorter flight. Wow
Somebody was looking out for us here. It's a good thing we got our ashes the other day.
We finally found the hotel and spent the rest of the day preparing for our flight and trying to enjoy our last day in Japan. Osaka is unlike anywhere we have been to yet. I know I've used this word a lot, but its crazy. Lots of malls, restaurants, and arcades next to shady joints and there were people everywhere, most of them flushed and stumbling.
Again, the whole situation could have been much much worse for us. We had a lot of very close calls. There were videos of the fish market we went to on the news and there were trucks being tossed through the alleys were we got our first sushi breakfast. We haven't heard from Masami yet, but hope she is ok too.
I'm not sure what our internet situation is going to be at our next stop, but I'll put up another post as soon as I can once we get out of Japan.
I hope everything gets better here soon.