kansai trip day 1 part 1

Posted on Nov. 26, 2010 by geoffropuff

mickie and i decided to celebrate her move to japan by making a trip to kansai (hiroshima, miyajima island, nara, and osaka).  to save on travel, we decided to try and take what shall be hereafter referred to as TFN (the fucking nightbus).  the 12-hour ride wasn’t the worst thing i’ve ever experienced, but the combination of a cramped neck and lack of sleep made for a less-then-stellar experience.  and that bus driver…  the bastard stopped every two hours for twenty minutes each and left those overhead lights on for every one of those minutes.  let’s do the math: 12 hour ride, stop every 2 hours for 20 minutes, meaning about 2 hours of lights-on time.  horrible.

TFN (the fucking nightbus)

TFN was so unassuming with a cute dog on the side.

after suffering through our first, and last, TFN, mickie and i were off on our kansai adventure, first stop: hiroshima!  well, before actually leaving the bus station, we had to change clothes and brush our teeth cuz 12 hours on a TFN will make you look and smell nasty.  we just set up shop in a small corner near some vending machines and the bathroom.

hiroshima teeth brushing

if it looks empty, it's because we repelled people with just the power of BO and morning breath.

not being much of a solo traveler, i had never really made it to the hiroshima area.  i was glad to finally have the chance to visit the hiroshima peace park, a memorial for the devastation caused by the atomic bomb in WWII.  while walking through the park, we passed by a few famous monuments.  one of them was the children’s peace monument featuring a statue of sadako sasaki, a girl that developed leukemia as a consequence of the radiation from the bomb.  she had attempted to fold 1,000 paper cranes before she died so that her wish of becoming well would come true.

hiroshima peace park sadako statue

sadako holding up a crane to end all suffering.

hiroshima peace park sadako's paper cranes

children from around the world fold thousands of paper cranes and mail them to be displayed around sadako's statue.

another famous monument i got to see was the A-bomb dome, the closest building remaining to ground zero.

hiroshima peace park a-bomb dome

it's amazing that the building remains standing but it's skeletal form is a bit haunting.

hiroshima peace park a-bomb dome wide shot

a wider shot from across the river.

after walking a bit more, we came upon the peace flame which will burn until all nuclear weapons are destroyed.  unfortunately, while i’m hoping that the flame will be extinguished sooner rather than later, my personal opinion is that the flame will burn until for a long time, if not eternity.  nuclear weapons will only cease to exist when they become obsolete compared to even more powerful methods of destruction.  let’s hope i’m horribly wrong.

hiroshima peace park peace flame

let's hope that we can extinguish in the near future.

immediately next to the flame was the memorial cenotaph with all the victims names engraved on it.  i’m really curious as to how long after the cenotaph was erected that names were still being etched into it.  are the few remaining survivors that have cancer right now going to be considered victims of the bomb when they pass?

hiroshima peace park cenotaph

the man on the right takes care of the cenotaph and bows in respect toward it at certain intervals.

we finally made it into the museum where i got a picture with a seemingly random turtle with a huge taiko drum on his back.

hiroshima peace park taiko turtle

i couldn't read the plaque but i'm sure there was some meaning. anyways, TURTLE!

the rest of the museum was just as depressing as you’d imagine so i won’t post any pictures beyond models of hiroshima before and after the bomb hit.

hiroshima peace park museum map before

hiroshima before the bomb.

hiroshima peace park museum map after

hiroshima after the bomb. i felt weak in the knees after seeing this map model.

if you look on the maps, you see the river that runs through hiroshima.  currently, a tour ferry travels up and down the water.

hiroshima peace park tour ferry

this ferry points out historically significant areas all along the river.

forming the edges of the river are big slabs of concrete.  occasionally, you’ll see random cutout entrances in the concrete that lead to the river.

hiroshima peace park river entrance

and i mean totally random stairway that leads directly INTO the river. not even a little dock or something for ferry boarding.

at least we got a good couples photo near the river.

hiroshima peace park river mickie

my hair looks ridiculous but my beard looks sexy.

after being put in a sufficiently sour mood by the museum, we decided to have lunch.  on the way there, my mood was soothed by a random turtle pond!

hiroshima turtle pond

turtles just loungin'.

we eventually made it to our goal: a traditional hiroshima okonomiyaki restaurant.  okonomiyaki is a kind of japanese pancake/pizza thingy made of batter, meat/seafood, cabbage, egg, and other various sauces and toppings.


on a normal okonomiyaki, all the toppings are tossed together to make one big, flat pancake

hiroshima okonomiyaki

but if you notice on my hiroshima okonomiyaki, the batter is the bottom layer followed by the cabbage, the ramen noodles, the meat (i ordered oyster), the egg, the sauce, the cheese, and finally the onions.

on the above picture, the chef gave me the stink-eye when i ordered oyster with cheese topping.

chef stink eye

apparently, pork with cheese is okay, but seafood with cheese is most definitely not.

hiroshima okonomiyaki stink-eye

and i gave him the stink-eye right back.

i was going to show all of day 1 in one post but that would’ve been one of those insanely long posts like from grant’s trip, so i’ll leave you here with a final picture of hiroshima station’s platypus mascot.  why was it a platypus?  i don’t know, but i DO know it was awesome, and blue.

hiroshima platypus mascot

i should look up the significance of this little guy but i rather enjoy his seeming randomness.

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