This is the last post from our now long-past vacation!
Our second day in Hiroshima we did some sightseeing around the city, starting with a breakfast of combini sushi and hot tea sitting on the curb in front of Hiroshima Castle’s front gate.
Inside there were a couple of blossoming cherry trees and black pines and I went a little crazy with the photos…
These are all taken from within the walls of the castle compound, but still a fair ways from the castle itself. The castles are not only beautiful buildings, but offer park-areas in the middle of otherwise busy cities, and are often full of people reading, jogging, painting and so on. Most castles appear to have two moats, and several sets of walls before you get to the castle itself. All of these flower shots are taken with one of the outer castle walls, and corner tower in the background.
Inside the wall and tower they had a number of exhibits about the re-building of the castle/walls, and the history of the area. They also had a drum that they historically would have used to communicate with other parts of the compound… In all of these places you have to take your shoes off at the door, and they provide you with slippers to walk around. They’re almost always five sizes too small for me, so I jam my toes in and shuffle about. This place had the slipperiest floor/slippers I’ve ever seen, and all of the tourists were gliding around like we were on ice-skates.
We walked up past a temple (where several couples were getting married, and other people were bringing their babies to the shrine) several stalls selling octopus-balls (little dough-balls filled with octopus bits… not my favorite thing. They look tasty, but the texture puts me off… the dough is a bit mushy and the octopus is chewy. They appear to be popular fair-food though.)
The castle (like many others) also serves as a museum of sorts, and we wandered through the exhibits all the way up to the top, and then got a great view.
In the evening we met up with a bunch of friends (old and new) for food and drinks, but Jordan (the groom) was promptly kidnapped for his bachelor’s party, and us ladies took Miki out to karaoke for her bachelorette’s. We even found a bride costume at the karaoke place, and dressed her appropriately. In case I haven’t mentioned it before — Karaoke is quite different here. You get a small room and you only sing in front of your friends. Most places have food and drink (or you can bring your own) and many also have costumes available. We were pretty amused that night to see a flock of business-men dressed like school-girls. It’s a nicer system, although I should add, by “you sing” I mean, other people. I am not fond of karaoke, or you know, howling like a cat in front of people I expect to like me the next day. 🙂 Which is really kinda unfortunate — it’s very popular here. I generally agree to go along as long as they promise not to try and make me sing.
The next day we headed off to meet up with Dustin, a college friend of Jen’s, got some Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki for lunch (we agree that we prefer hiroshima style… less doughy, more veggies and noodles) and then wandered over to the peace park and A-bomb dome. It’s hard, as an American, to know how to respond in that setting. The Americans forewent bombing industrial and military headquarters, and instead focused on primarily civilian areas. It’s a bit unforgivable.
The monuments and plaques are all quite indirect about attributing blame, and that sort of thing, they just lay out the facts and the stories of the people involved. It’s simultaneously heart-breaking and somewhat distant — on a beautiful sunny day it’s hard to imagine any of it actually occurring. Being a typical jovial tourist (snapping photos, talking with friends) in such a setting is a bit difficult. Mostly we all just wandered from plaque to plaque by ourselves. Eventually we also opted to skip the museum, since we were running short on time, and that hardly seems like the kind of thing you want to run through.
In the evening we went to Miki and Jordan’s wedding, which was adorable. They had a nice ceremony in a garden on an island just outside Hiroshima, and then there was a great reception and dance party after. The couple even got up and did several dances themselves. Jen and I both got “Linda Linda” firmly stuck in our heads there, and have been unable to get rid of it ever since!
The next day we caught a train for home! As a last surprise, we got a wonderfully clear view of Fuji-san from the train. All in all, a great vacation!