Konnichiwa from Japan

Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
Trip End Feb 01, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Chugoku,
Thursday, October 21, 2010

Typical of Japanese punctuality our ferry arrived into Shimonoseki early! We were coming into port as I opened my eyes. So we had a mad dash to get all our gear together. Karen more than myself I must add as she likes to empty her entire backpack wherever we sleep! ha ha.

It took us a while to get through customs surprisingly. They interrogated me for a while. Was it my beard? Karen even had her bag searched! The look on her face was classic. The customs officers were very polite about it though and I suppose they were only doing their job.

So finally we have made it to Japan! The number 1 country on my hit list for the last 10 years. My god it did not disappoint as you are about to read in the next lot of blogs. 

We left Shimonoseki to go to Hiroshima as soon as we left the port. It was the first of the famous bullet trains that we would take. They are amazing! On the train platform it tells you where to stand for each carriage, which you need to know as they leave on the dot! The first 3 carriages are for non-reserved tickets which made it a lot easier. It was the first glimpse of the famous Japanese efficiency. As we were getting on we got talking to this Japanese lady about our trip. She sat in front of us with the seats facing forward. As she leant over the seat she said do you mind if I turn around to hear more of your trip? We both said yes but were thinking what does she mean when she got up, pushed a lever down on the seats and they span around to be now facing us! Well Karen & I were like "Whoaaaaa". We were so impressed. She must have thought we were a right pair of saddos! 

The time flew by on the train, I suppose that's why they call them bullet trains. So we made it to Hiroshima. The name alone brings up so many images. 

On our first night we went out to eat in an Izakaya which is basically a Japanese pub. We walked to the recommended place and got to see quite a bit of the city. Hiroshima is lovely, really clean and green. We could not find the place and probably would never have without the help of two giggling girls (they were shy to speak in English) who asked a taxi driver. It turned out that we were standing right in front of it. You would never have known as it looked like an office block.

The place was so cool. Really minimalistic with great, great food. We had Sashimi and Tempura. Yum! It was a great first day in Japan.  

We spent our first morning there visiting the various peace memorials and museums and learnt about the atrocities caused by the atomic bomb that was dropped here on the 6th of August 1945.

For a moment stop and imagine yourself going about your daily routine in the morning. The sky is blue and clear, you're probably on your way to work, nothing out of the ordinary is going on. And then, at exactly 8.15am you see a bright light in the sky, you hear what sounds like thunder crashing and you are engulfed by an immense heat. You lose consciousness for a few minutes and when you next open your eyes you think you've been transported into another world. A grey, ugly world with flattened buildings, fires everywhere, people screaming in pain trying to remove burning clothes off their bodies. Death surrounds you, and as your eyes start to adjust to your dismal surroundings you become aware of your own pain. Your back is badly burnt, your hair is singed and yet you are lucky. You've made it through...
This is what happened to the citizens of Hiroshima in 1945. One bomb obliterated everything that was familiar to them. One hundred and forty thousand people died as a result of one bomb. Many more would die from the effects of radiation in years to come. This is the damage one bomb could cause in 1945. Today, the nuclear weapons held by the different nations together can inflict 30,000 times the damage that was caused in Hiroshima. And as long as countries insist on holding on to these weapons we all run the risk of suffering the same fate as the people in Hiroshima did 65 years ago. As Einstein said, 'I don't know what we'll be fighting World war 3 with, but I do know what we'll be using to fight World war 4....sticks and stones'. This is why we need to say NO to nuclear weapons.

But, the story of Hiroshima is not one of helplessness, but one of hope. Three days after the attack the tram started working again. Within two weeks plant life started sprouting, and today the city is a bustling metropolis with beautiful buildings and parks. 

It was such a moving and touching day. The memorials are well put together. One particular memorial (the victims memorial) was really beautiful. In all of the memorials the Japanese admit that they were at fault for their aggressive policies and that they have learnt and changed. Which we know to be true after being there for 1 month. One thing i know for sure. War is fucked up shit (excuse the language) and it is very scary to think that 1 bomb can destroy an entire city. There is this one story about a little girl who had cancer because of the effects of the bomb. As she was getting more and more weak she started to make paper cranes as she believed that if she made a 1000 of them she would get better. Sadly she passed away. Her classmates then decided to finish her task and complete the 1000 cranes. They were doing it to spread awareness of children suffering because of war. Other schools around the world heard the story about the little Japanese girl and her paper cranes and they too sent in 1000's of paper cranes. You now can see them at the memorial park. Sadly as i write this there are still children suffering because of war. Why do we do it? We have been on the road for almost 4 months now and the one thing that really stands out is that People are good. They will help you regardless of colour, nationality, religion and political beliefs. When will we realize that we live on one planet and that we are all the same?

On the next day we took a lighter day trip and went to visit one of the most photographed sites in Japan that's set in a gorgeous little island town called Miyajima.

We took the metro and a short ferry ride to the island and the minute we got off we were greeted by the local strays who came in search for food. Now we're not talking about your typical stray here, no, in Miyajima even the strays are better looking! They were beautiful deer and little bambis with gorgeous eyes and a gentle manner. We would have loved to feed them but unfortunately that is what created the problem in the first place. The deer prefer the easy food they get from misguided tourists and have left the forest to come and beg for food in town. Very sad really. We couldn't quite get over seeing this lovely creatures strolling next to us, appearing quite at ease with our company. 

Once we got over the deer we remembered to look around us and marveled at this cute little town. We walked along lovely tiny streets and impressive shrines to get to the big site, The floating Torii gate. It's named as such because the gate is in water and when the tide comes in it looks like it's floating. When the tide is out it just looks like it's stuck in mud. Good job the tide was in when we saw it then! 

The next day we left Hiroshima feeling very excited as our next destination was Tokyo! 

I'm sure we'll be back soon with crazy stories about our stay in this uber cool metropolis. Till then...

Lots of love

Karen and Paul

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auntyp on

hey guys, Yes I can imagine what an impression Hiroshima leaves on people. I just watched a documentary, of the day the A-bomb was dropped, it was very detailed and the reenactments were quite disturbing!!! So I can imagine what it feels like being there!!!!....Loved your pics as always.......Take care...and keep the blogs coming xxxxxxxx

Tukkie on

What a touching blog entry, i'm learning so much from your travels, thanks for sharing :) Japan looks and sounds fascinating, enjoy! Txx

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