Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Japan: Day 04

Today we decided to head out to Hiroshima!

Almost everyone in the world knows about Hiroshima, but just in case you live under a rock, I'll explain.   Japan had launched a surprise attack on the US by bombing Pear Harbor in Hawaii, which ultimately got the US involved in the war.  Hiroshima is a city in Japan that the US targeted to test the Atomic bomb on during WWII, and hopefully win the war for good.

What I don't remember learning in school (although there's a lot I don't remember, so no surprise there), is that the US considered many different cities before deciding to attack Hiroshima, or even deciding to attack Japan in general.  The reason they chose not to drop the bomb on Germany is because they were totally expecting it.

We got up that morning and hopped on the train.  It was about an hour and a half ride by bullet train, and we didn't have reserved seats, so we had to stand for most of the time.
 Standing room only!

It was okay though, I made my own seat!

The station was very close to the bomb dome, so once we got off the train it was easy to find.  Hiroshima was sad, but it was also probably one of my favorite places in Japan.  The city is beautiful, the people are so nice, and the Peace Park was absolutely perfect.

The bomb dome was so impressive.  Very big and left to stand as a monument to remember, it was peaceful in of itself.

 First glimpse of the bomb dome.  Very big.

 You can still make out the top of the structure, as if the roof were still there.

There's a very famous story in Hiroshima about a young girl who turned horribly sick due to the atomic bombing, and was told by doctors that should would only have one year to live.  When she heard a story that if you folded one thousand paper cranes your wish would be granted, she began to fold and fold and fold cranes.  However, she lacked paper, so she used whatever she could get her hands on, candy wrappings, tissues, anything.  She would go to different hospital rooms and ask to use tissue paper from gifts they recieved.  Her best friend brought any paper she could from school.  However, she fell short of her goal and died before she finished one thousand folded cranes.

The story inspires generation after generation of Japanese girls, and millions fold cranes and bring them to the peace park in her honor.

 Thousands and thousands of hanging origami cranes.

More cranes, hanging and creating different images.

Next we visited the peace museum, which I was surprised to find was not hateful at all towards the US.  In fact, one of the first things I read said: "in 1941, Japan walked the path of war."  I also saw some amazing things that had to do with the war, including authentic letters written by Albert Einstein to president Roosevelt.  It was really sad, seeing a lot of the images from the bombing.

There was also a room dedicated to everyone who died during the atomic bombing, including Americans.  I found one and snapped his picture.

Porter Raymond

After the museum, we popped into a cafe to grab a bit to eat.  There was a little old Japanese woman sitting across from us that immediately started talking and pointing and waving her hands.  She was in love with Dave, and tried and tried and tried to talk to us.  I only know a little Japanese, so it was hard for us to communicate, but she wanted pictures, so she whipped out her camera and started snapping away.  At one point I sat down next to her for a picture and she pushed me out of the way and waved Dave over.  After pictures, she instructed us to wait for 30 minutes, then left and got the pictures developed and came right back to hand them over!  She was very sweet, and told us that Dave was the only one who looked American, and that I was obviously Italian, and Mike was obviously Jewish.

 Here she is!  She talked with us forever!  She also game me a drink coaster she made herself!  Very cool lady!

We waved goodbye and headed out to find the site where the bomb actually hit Hiroshima.  It took a bit, the monument was so tiny, we missed it at first!

 Here it is, next to a random building.  We missed it at first.

 Picture of the bombing aftermath.  This spot is called the Hypocenter.

After finding the Hypocenter, we made our way to Hiroshima Castle, which was rebuilt minus all the commoner buildings.  It was very beautiful.

 Front door of Hiroshima Castle!  It looks so strange with the giant modern buildings in the backdrop!

 Dave, Mike and I inside the gates of the castle.

Castle long hall!

The area around the castle was very beautiful as well, I found a spot of the other side of the water channel that cut through the castle grounds and got a quick shot.
It was such a nice, sunny day!
The castle also had a tower, and we got to go inside and climb all the way to the top.  It was huge!  I got some GREAT pictures.  :)

I thought the tower was so pretty, probably my favorite part of the whole castle.

On our way down we ran into a group of Japanese high school boys trying on a Samurai outfit, when they saw us watching, the one trying on the outfit said: "Hi!" and I said Hi back, then I whipped out my camera and snapped a photo.

 He struck a sward-fighting pose for me!  Very authentic!

After I took the picture I pinched my cheek and said "Kawaii."  He said "Thank you" and everyone laughed.  Then I got to try it on!  The head piece was pretty heavy!

 I'm striking a pose of my own!  What do you think?

After our tour of Hiroshima, we headed back to Osaka, but on the way home we stopped in Kobe, for some Kobe beef!  Kobe is very famous for it's tender, juicy, delicious beef.  It's also very expensive, but we just had to try it once!  When we got off the train in Kobe it was late, around 9pm, and we were surprised to find that all the Kobe beef restaurants had closed for the night!  I asked a few of the cab drivers what they reccomended (I had to look up how to say it, it wasn't one of the words I knew), but none could think of a place to go until one nice cab driver pointed up to a hotel near the station and said: "Hotelu, hotelu,"  Which means 'hotel' in Japanese, so we thanked him and walked towards the hotel.  As I walked I practiced the sentence I would use to ask where we could go.  What I wanted to say was: "We want to eat Kobe beef, what do you recommend?"  I said it over and over before we got inside.  When we walked up to the counter, I asked the attendant if he knew English, but she shook his head.  So I said: "Kobe beef o tabetai desu kara, Osusumi wa nan desu ka?"  He immediately replied with a bow and left to get a map.  The attendent next to him smiled, gave me the thumbs up and said: "Perfect Japanese!"  I couldn't help the huge grin that spread across my face!  Yay!  PERFECT Japanese!  Just what I wanted to hear!

The only place open happened to be in the hotel up on the third floor, so we went up and had some Kobe beef!  Everyone was very nice and helpful, and the chef gave me his business card after we ate, he was a very good chef!

After eating our Kobe beef!  It was just as delicious as everyone says!


  1. u do have perfect Japanese u sound like an anime character some times lmoa!!!!!! that is awsome tough how you communicated so well i got the same BIG SMILE as i was reading that part too. this makes me wish i went with u :) i had no idea how mutch there was to do there. p.s. nice bo stance sensei.....or should i say samurai?

  2. You said Pear Harbor, ha! That's funny.

    Do they do maintainence repairs on the bomb dome?

  3. That was an impressive pose. How is your hostel? We miss you in class. Caleb.

  4. Here is a neat video from Japan. See if you can find it =)