Konnichiwa from Japan
Trip Start Aug 09, 2010
124Trip End Feb 01, 2012
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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.
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...
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.
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.
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