A Moving Day in Hiroshima

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Thursday, March 10, 2011

11:31 Last night was an even better sleep, I didn't even need I get up in the night, plus I woke up at 11, giving me over 11 hours sleep. Must have needed it eh. My smelly footed silent roommate has also now gone so I'm the only person in the 8 bed dorm now, although there could be someone in later, you never know. I'm dressed and on the bus taking me to the train station. Today I'm going to Hiroshima as I mentioned yesterday. My throat is a lot less painful now and doesn't look as angry as it has. The journey on the Shinkansen will be about an hour and a half so it's not too far and I've got all afternoon to go to the museum and peace park which are next to each other. So it should be quite easy.
11:38 2 miniature old women just got on the bus, and just like that, 2 of the younger seated passengers got up and gave up their seats for them. I have been on a bus several times in Manchester (I know! I actually have had to use public transport in my years...scary stuff! No really, a couple of occasions it was scary as the kids are scary little bastards!) and not seen anyone give up their seat for a person who needed it, except me of course.
There are 3 schoolgirls on the bus, all looking So smart and properly dressed, even socks pulled up properly, they always wear loafers as well. They seem to just take a pride in what they wear.
12:01 Whoops, nearly got on the wrong train there! Chaos averted, I worked out how to read the timetable, wrong platform! Lady told me 13, she meant 14! Who knows where I'd have gone! As I stepped onto the bullet the hostess asked where I was going and after I said, she said get off! Now the right train is here.

What I WAS going to say before I nearly went on an unexpected tour of Japan, is that what I really love is that you can be anywhere in japan and think "hmm, I want a drink. Maybe a hot drink" and there will be a vending machine with hot an cold drinks just metres away! So, I have my bag of 6 trusty butter and raisin rolls that I have been eating daily for breakfast and snacks. I knew I wa late and needed to have something to eat so I could take all my pills, and I also knew that at the station I would get a hot coffee in a vending machine, for a pound. Magic. So now I'm on the train going a million miles an hour with 3 seats to myself and enough legroom to more or less put my legs straight out in front. Pure luxury people. This small country has so much class. I love it. England...you're way behind in so many ways. Virgin trains are almost on the money, but my god those old trains need modernising. Alex Smith - you'd be like a fast jet pilot driving one of these things. Even the front of the train is shaped like a sleek jet.

It was easy to write about what I saw when crossing russia and Mongolia, we travelled so slowly. This is like watching a DVD on fast forward and attempting to talk about whats going on! Lol! I officially think trains are the best way to travel.

I might just spend a couple of days riding the bullet train around japan with no particular destination! It's effectively free for me at this point.
12:24 Ha! We've arrived in Osaka! This is where I'm coming tomorrow. It only took 15 mins! I think I'm really going to try and come and live here for a while. I love the Japanese language, the politeness, efficiency, technology, culture, peace, calm, lack of congestion, the vibe, the people. Looks like I made the right choice doing this. Thankyou dear ex for breaking my heart and finding my own home an unbearable place to be, because I've found something else to look at now. I always did wonder why my lifeline on my palm had a massive break in it. Maybe this why. Mind you, I say all this as if it would never have happened. I always planned to do this sometime, but that time may never have come with my ex's phobia of travelling. I never realised just how much I would enjoy it.

I was talking to AJ from work last night and saying how happy I am. I'm happier here with tonsillitis in a hard bed in a dorm without any of the luxuries I bought myself over the years at home. We both agreed that it's the simple things in life that make us happiest. How many times on my journey has a hot shower and a proper bed made me happy. Or clean clothes even. Those things we take for granted, and I perhaps wouldn't want to always live this way, but I am surprised daily by my feelings about these things, all the different information pouring into my head. I see everything with these eyes that are effectively trained to see everything on a screen to find faults, i seem to be good at seeing everything, not just temples and shrines and mile high buddhas, or the things I take pictures of and post on my blog. No, there's so much more- I walk down the street and i see people wearing different clothes, everyone using phones that aren't iPhones or androids, the pedestrian crossings with little dots on them that countdown the time until you can cross, and everyone waits until the man is green, not daring to cross until then even if it's clear. The little side streets with hundreds of wires on poles down them, similar to Chinese hutons. The recycling bins everywhere, the bus drivers in White gloves and peaked cap, the lack if litter and chewing gum marking hundreds of little marks on the pavements, the old houses with relics of old times on them, the round paper lampshade things with writing on. The colour and writing everwhere on buses and undergrounda and pouring out of shops. Have I listed enough? My point is that I see everything and maybe I should take pictures of everything, except I feel a bit self conscious. So I understand now, why all the Chinese and Japanese tourists in other countries take pictures of everything, because when you look, you see so much difference in even the little things and want to remember and document it all!
13:05 The landscape here is quite unusual I think. I'm no geographer, And maybe it's a bit man made, I have no idea, we've just passed Hiyama on the way to Hiroshima. The ground is so flat, just perfectly flat, but there are also lots of little spiky hills popping out of the ground too. I'm used to the lake district where if it's hilly, then it's hilly and not flat and you'd be lucky to pitch a tent on the level anywhere. This is like someone got a flat bit of thick plastic and pressed a pencil into it to form random hills in the middle of a load o flatness. I bet japan hasn't ever been described like that before! "welcome to japan! The land that looks like someone attacked a piece of plastic with a pencil". I took some video of the journey if you look on my YouTube page, which might sort of show what I mean, you might also get a sense of how fast we travelled. Either way, now that I've mastered YouTube, I intend to take a fair bit more video where appropriate as it's a fantastic way to see things.
13:36 Talking about seeing, I've become so used to it now.... But my god my vision is fantastic since the lasering. Can't see? Wish you didnt have to fiddle with glasses or contacts? Go and get your eyes lasered! It's the best money I've spent! And it doesn't hurt! All I need now I a haircut....unruly does not do justice to what is happening on my bonce. I'm considering cutting it myself as the hairdresser up from the hostel costs about 40. Not doing that!
13:52 I dont know where we are, but next stop is hiroshima and I've notice that in the countryside area were going through that the houses here are beautiful Japanese houses, all looking almost like the shrines/temples I've been to. With the typical roof style in red clay tiles, and the building in black and White almost beam like. They look so charming surrounded by flat green fields.

14:18 It's a gorgeous sunny day here, I came out the station, found information desk and was given instructions on how to get to the peace park. They use trams here. It's a charming little town, maybe that's the sun speaking. I remember learning about the end of the war and this bomb at school, and kindof on my own as well as I was always interested in the war anyway. It always seemed so distant that a bomb of incomprehensible size and destructive power wiped out part of a country on the other side of the world. And yet now I'm here, in the very place, the epicentre of where it happened. It is such a terrible thing to have happened, especially since I know more about these polite, helpful, charming people, and in such a beautiful part of the world.
15:57 As i started to walk by the shell of the only building left as it was after the bomb exploded, a lady approached me, she was a free, volunteer guide. We sat together and she Spent an hour telling me about the bomb and the aftermath - the bomb exploded 600m above the building and sent burning temperatures of 3-4000 deg in a 1km radius, between the temperatures and radiation over 350,000 people died. She showed me pictures, the area before and after the bomb, charred bodies, the complete flattening of the city, drawings people did of people jumping into to the river then dying, a picture of the effects of the vacuum created by the bomb which resulted in sucking eyes and internal organs out, the results of radiation sickness, a black rain that fell full of poison, the contaminated water, and so on. These people suffered for months, and just a month after the bomb a horrendous typhoon hit and killed as many people over again. It wa interesting talking to her. She said most people don't hate the Americans, some do, but most blame the war not the people.
Looking at the pictures of both the city and the people, and the shell of the last building, then the items found, now in the museum... I felt shocked at it all. How and why we still have atomic bombs is a mystery. Seeing the effects of that would be enough to make anyone think that they should be uninvented. Stick to guns, tanks, planes, but put the bombing and sickness and destruction away for good. I was curious as to why Hiroshima was chosen - because it was the only place without a prisoner of war camp. A lot of children were sent to the countryside just before it happened because the Americans had been sending 'normal' bomb raids in. The result was that over 6000 children were orphaned that day - 6th Aug 1945 at 8.15am.
19:07 Back on the train again, it's dark outside now so nothing to see. Its been an interesting afternoon, and I'm glad I went. I'm quite tired now but my throat is still ok. I've got another bottle of coffee and some music on. Its the only thing I care to listen to, still after nearly 9 months. The Battlestar Galactica soundtrack. I think I've written all I can for today so I'll play a game and relax till I get back to the hostel.

Best thing - further improvement in throat

Worst thing - having a sore throat at all!

Most beautiful- the peace gardens at the bomb site. So many monuments to so many people. Very moving.
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mjkirkham on

So glad you're feeling better.

Have been really enjoying reading about your travels so far. Discovering Hiroshima from your perspective has been particularly interesting.

Justpassingby on

Hi, you should look for "QB House" if you want to get a cheap haircut.
QB House can be found EVERYWHERE in Japan, especially near large train stations and shopping malls. It will cost you only 1000 yen to get your haircut.

Glenn on

Sadly, Hiroshima was deliberately left untouched by bombing raids so that the effects of the yet-to-be-completed atomic bomb in a built-up area could be measured.

I recently read John Hersey's book "Hiroshima", which describes the bombing from the perspective of six people caught up in it. It's not a barrel of laughs, clearly, but I do recommended it if you're interested.

Lizziekins on

Really glad you're on the mend Zoe - and pleased you got to Hiroshima in a state where you could enjoy. Can you stop talking trains now, my inner green-eyed monster can't take it anymore after another crammed commute into London!

Can you let us know that the earthquake wasn't anywhere near you please - just to everyone's minds at rest. xx

mjkirkham on

I second that. Just heard about the earthquake. Please post something to let us know you're okay.

Kay on

Hey Zoe can you email us to let us know you are safe and well after the Japan Earthquake, just read the news! xxxx

Kay on

Can someone post a message if they hear from Zoe.

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