Touring the islands & learning from our mistakes

Trip Start Jul 27, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, March 20, 2008


Thursday was a national holiday (spring equinox day), and I was able to take Friday off of work so we picked up some rail passes and road the shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima. I decided to take my family here because it's one of my most favorite places in Japan, and because I think it's important that all people visit Hiroshima to learn about the destruction that nuclear weapons cause.

When we got in to Hiroshima, we went right in for our education... walking around the beautiful Peace Park, the Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome), and going through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It was a little windy, and the park was more barren than when I went before in May- but it was none the less beautiful. I got the same happiness high walking through the park, that I experienced 5 years before. Alana found the park a little jeering, which shows that different things speak to people in different ways.

For me the park is a place of serenity, education, and hope. One can visit the park and see the memorials and learn about our mistakes of the past, and at the same time be uplifted by the fact that the trees, the grass, the flowers- all grew back only a short time after the bomb was dropped even though it was predicted that this would take centuries to happen. I don't think that happened because the experts were wrong- but because someone (or something- depending on your beliefs) was looking out for us. In a time of need the blossoms gave the Hiroshima residents hope, the push they needed to move forward through the tragedy. To me, seeing the city rebuilt, and the park full of people from around the world- all supporting the same encouraging and exulting.

After our Peace Memorial experiences, we sauntered through the famous shopping street and went on to the Okonomiyaki village to try some Hiroshima okonomiyaki. It wasn't a big hit with the family, which surprised me. Okonomiyaki (a cross between pizza and a pancake) is one of my most favorite foods in Japan- but of the 3, dad was the only one who was able to eat more than a few bites. Shocking considering that it's packed full of cabbage and other vegetables.

The next morning we got up early and went to Miyajima to visit Itsukushima during high tide (the famous shrine on the beach with the tori in the ocean.) We went through the shrine and saw a wedding and a dance performance there. We did lots of shopping along the quaint little streets, and played with more wild deer that were just roaming around the streets. Mom and I had our fix of the local specialty, momiji manju, (maple leaf shaped sweets filled with various fillings) while Alana and Dad raided all of the gumball machines that sold collectors pins of the area. I am pretty sure between the two of them they plugged a good 2500 yen into the 100 yen machines. [100 yen= $1]

Later that day we hopped back on the train and went to visit Iwakuni. We visited the Kintai bridge, rode a cable car up to Iwakuni's castle, and waltzed through various shopping streets and vendors. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we were just happy to be out enjoying it. That night we visited a large pub restaurant (think TGIF) to get the folks their fix of western food, and to play a little pool.

Saturday I got a little break at the tour guide game, when we met up with Isaac, one of my friends who lives in Hiroshima.
He showed us around a bit, and took us to a cafe along the river for lunch. Since we had already visited all of our major stops, we decided to head back to Kobe a day early.
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