Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Spring Vacation Part 2

After the shoe museum, we headed for Hiroshima. We arrived in the early evening and met up with Nirmal. Hiroshima has about 1.1 million people. They have an above ground tram system. I really enjoyed riding the trams because I could get a feel for the city. Many cities have great subway systems, but as you pop in and out of the subway, you miss a lot. Hiroshima is very modern, has wide boulevards lined with trees, beautiful rivers, and dense entertainment and shopping areas.

We were hungry so we got awesome Sri Lankan food near our dorm. Afterwards, we wandered around the entertainment district. It's difficult to figure out where to go mostly because we can't read. There are usually lots of bars on multiple floors in tall buildings. Many places are "snack bars" where men pay big money to be entertained by women, mostly singing, serving drinks, having conversation and perhaps more, but I have no idea. Fortunately, we found a really cool bar where we could hang out and catch up with Nirmal. The bar had a bottle of alcohol called "Dracula's Blood".

The next morning, we headed to Peace Park, a memorial park for the atom bomb victims. The first place we visited was the A-Bomb Dome, which was one of the few buildings still standing after the bomb and was not destroyed during reconstruction. It's a symbol of what the destruction and devastation was like after the first atomic bomb attack ever and of what should never happen again.

Peace Park is huge and has many memorials and a museum. There's the Flame of Peace, which will hopefully be extinguished someday. The flame will continue to burn until there are no more atomic bombs in the world. There's also the Cenotaph, which is a stone chest that contains all of the victims names.

The most moving exhibits at the museum were the survivors drawings, written and video accounts of what happened to them personally and photographs of the devastation after the bomb. Photos that were taken by news photographers had to be hidden because of censorship by the American government. There is also a Memorial Hall for the A-Bomb Victims that was below ground and included a circular room with stone engravings of the city sky line and names of all the neighborhoods that had been destroyed. It also included a registry of the victims names, photos and audio accounts.

In addition, there is a Children's Peace Memorial inspired by the story of Sadako. She developed leukemia when she was 10 years old and thought that if she could fold 1,000 paper cranes that she could be cured. Paper cranes are a symbol of health and longevity in Japan. She died before she could complete the project. `Her friends from school helped her complete the cranes. Now, thousands of children and schools send cranes to the memorial.
Thousands of paper cranes

This picture is made from hundreds of paper cranes

Children's Memorial

It's amazing how quickly the city was rebuilt after the devastation. It is a beautiful and thriving city. It was an emotional day. I have so many feelings of shame and disgust. There's no justification in using an atomic bomb.

That evening, we had planned to stay in Miyajima, a small island near Hiroshima, so we headed there that afternoon. Miyajima is considered to be one of the three most beautiful/scenic places in Japan. It's famous for the floating torii gate in the sea. This is the view from the ferry boat.

I was so happy that we decided to stay there that night, because it's very peaceful and tranquil plus it was a relief to be there after our emotional and intense day in Hiroshima. During the day Miyajima is packed with tourists and most people only visit for the day and don't spend the night.

When we got to the island the sun hadn't set yet. We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and wandered the island. The island has lots of deer.

it was low tide, so we walked around the torii gate. I'm so happy we had a chance to walk around the torii gate because it's gigantic. This gate is the 8th torii gate. It gets hit with typhoons and general water damage, so it has to be replaced periodically. It actually just sits on the ocean floor with its own weight and is not anchored. It's 16 meters tall and 24 meters wide. The picture below is me and the torii gate. I'm the speck on the right.

Here's Julian and Nirmal next to the torii gate.

There are deer wandering around the island mostly chasing you for food. Julian crumpled up a little wrapper which got the deer attention, so Nirmal took out a big bag and started crumpling it and suddenly the deer were rushing him and surrounded him, but I think he liked the attention.

We took a lot of pictures of the torii I'm sure every tourist does, it really is spectacular. Here it is at night.

We had dinner at a ryokan that was really awesome. They are famous for oysters, so Julian and I ate many oysters. The owner was from Himeji and she was super nice and helpful with making a vegetarian meal for Nirmal. The owner kept asking if Julian was famous and kept thinking she recognized him from somewhere. I asked if they had any famous people visit the island and all her son could think of was the band, Aha! "Take On Me" is such a classic song!

Group shot with the restaurant owner's son

To be continued...

1 comment:

Gwynne Sullivan said...

Bruce Willis ... and you're Demi Moore ...