Monday, 9 April 2012

3 –day Field Trip to Hiroshima and Yamaguchi

 Hiroshima is famous as the first place to experience the horror of the A-bomb, marking the beginning of a nuclear age, but it was a fantastic place to visit. On this field trip we visited the sobering Peace Memorial Museum, went hiking up Miyajima and posed at the iconic Torii gate in the sea and ate the local cuisine.  We also got the chance to visit Yamaguchi prefectures’ iconic five-arched bridge, Iwakuni Castle and the caves beneath the Akiyoshi Plateau, a plain of rocks.

This particular entry has lots of photos because it was a beautiful place and we saw some incredible scenery's that everyone wanted to keep.

Day 1
It took an hour to get there via the Shinkansen, the world reknowned Japanese bullet train which, if anyone was interested, is yes very fast, and the interior is like an airplane with plenty of leg room. One could twist the rows of chairs to face each other too, so the journey to get there was pretty lush.
Upon arrival we made Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, which basically layers a thin base of the bread-like stuff with yakisoba and salad and egg and spices, which is different from the kansai region. 
We then sent straight for the Peace Memorial Park and the Museum, which I want to include an extra blog for at some point. The museum was created in commemoration of the lives lost to the war and as a reminder of the devastation of nuclear weapons in the hope that the tragedy will never be repeated.
There's a myth that when you fold a thousand cranes the thing you want most in the world will come true. We’ve been folding 1000 cranes for the weeks leading up to the trip to add to the over hundreds of thousand cranes folded by schools and companies in a joint wish for peace:
This was actually started by a child called Sadako who after the bombing contracted leukemia from the radiation, and folded 1000 tiny cranes in the hope that her wish to get better would come true. There's a section dedicated to her now in the museum.

The museum about the victim's actual experiences lay it on pretty thick, with I think a few too many stories of tiny tim on his trike when the bomb burnt his arms off and killed his family. But the thing is, those stories were real. The survivors hand-drawn pictures of the tragedy were particularily hard-hitting, like a childs picture of people with heads round and black.

What was interesting was the added bit about WHY American decided to create and drop the bomb on Japan and also a section on the worlds plan to ban nuclear weapons all together.
The most chilling part of the museum was this, only from last year:

North Korea: ?!

The A-bomb Dome is now a World Heritage site, used to be the town hall. People wanted to knock it down because it served as a painful reminder for them, but others wanted to keep it as a direct, real reminder of what they went through.

A relic of the past- the A-Bomb Dome

Amy was particularily affected, she was sort of struck dumb by the evidence of how we as people ‘destroy ourselves’, which struck me because she’d used the collective pronouns and she’ s right – it wasn’t a Japanese thing or an American thing or even a war thing, it was a people thing, it was us that did that, so it’s up to us not to try it again.
It’s terrifying because never before have we been able to completely wipe out all life on this planet. We've entered the nuclear age, and Hiroshima was where it began.

On a lighter note, we found an old chuu-chuu train that kids were using as a climbing frame and joined in!
Some of the ryuugakusei scrambled up that thing like shot
At one point a Japanese kid, following Alister (on top of the train in the photo) got scolded by his mother who yelled "Canadajin maneshinaide! (Don’t copy the Canadian)!” thinking we couldn’t understand. When we burst out laughing she went bright red, it was so cute ><
We also found a little castle, which we as students could enter for free! A few of us had fun dressing up.

Aki-san, one of the staff at Konan and Larry

We then went for dinner in Hiroshima with Tierney sensei – crepes then sushi then mcdonalds ice-cream followed by purikura (print club)!
And came back and had a hot bath in the shared bathrooms.
Went to bed with the intension of getting up for a jog but slept in instead.
A buffet breakfast!


Left early to make the most of our time in Hiroshima and caught the tram to the park in our free time. We got some stunning photos of a Japanese garden and the plum blossoms.

We then caught the JR Ferry to Miyajima,

Miyajima is an island shaped like a women who is said to break up couples who visit the island because she’s jealous, where the deer roam free like those in Nara. Miyajima is famous for it’s Momiki manjuu, Yakikaki (grilled oyster) and anago (sea eel), and the Itsukushima shrine.

I think me and the girls hiked to her brow...

Fun fact: The Tori (gate) in the sea in front of the shrine
was commissioned by Taira no Kiyomori,
 the person in this recent Japanese drama.

After eating our way around the island me and the girls decided to stay for a hike while the rest of the ryuugakusei (study abroad students) caught the ferry back to get drunk with the sensei’s. They left at around 6pm we caught the ferry back a couple hours later at around 9.30pm.

Here are some shots of the hike to the top of Miyajima:

We also tried almost every flavour of Momiji manjuu on the island, the grilled oyster was surprisingly delicious and didn’t taste just like the sea like I thought it would, and I had two portions of the sea eel.

The sun-lit lake view from the top of Miyajima

Winning pose 'cause we're cool
It was meant to take 2 hours but due to the encroaching darkness and the threat of rain we pretty much ran up, Amy barefoot due to the discomfort of her boots (I'm not kidding, she went up and down with just her socks, like a boss). 
We quoted lord of the rings to keep our spirits up.
It was a really fun climb, and we were rewarded with the liquid gold looking lake at the top and by the time we climbed back down the trail had become so dark in places it was like walking down through a pitch black tunnel!  

The picture below was taken about halfway during our climb down. We had a new mission: touch the gate! 
You can see it's low enough tide to get a closer look at the Tori (gate) - Amy's previous life ambition for 4 years.


The warm air combined with the smell of the sea made me really feel like I was on holiday!
Up close you can see it was like a whole trunk of an old tree was used. It was enormous.
One could also see where the inspiration for Spirited Away came from – the ferry lights, the moment when she dip her foot in to the sea, the shrine and the bridge – we felt like Sen.
And after that speedy hike we dropped by a restaurant to reward ourselves with more Hiroshima Okonomiyaki!
We caught the ferry, brought Lindsey a Totoro birthday cake and some beers to wash down dinner at the station and somehow managed to get the right tram back just before the last one came in.
By the time we got back at around 11, everyone else was stumbling around in the street ready for a party in someone's room. After we had a hot bath everyone gathered in Alister's room for a bit, some people even went clubbing in Hiroshima and claimed to be the only girls in the club, and Marina got sick in the night and couldn’t do any of the adventures we had on the last day :'-(.

We were all pretty tired by now, but the weather was still good and it was an easy day –
After another buffet breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed for the five-arched bridge over Nishiki river called Kintaikyou.

The wooden bridge has a very long history, built all those years ago with technology so advanced that even now it can’t be improved on, using metal coils and clamps instead of nails.

It’s elegant to look at, built because the guy in charge was sick of the bridges being washed away by the river. He built one that lasted a long time, but it was torn down in a typhoon – the villages tried with all their might to keep it from being washed away, calling out, ‘save the bridge!’ but they failed. They decided to create a local bridge tax, so that everyone could contribute a little money to rebuild the bridge as it stands today.

So, we crossed the bridge feeling like I’d been transported into the past (or across the arched bridge Sen crosses to get to the bathhouse in the ghibli film), and went straight for the ropeway to the castle.

Concerning castles in Japan…I daresay that once you’ve seen one castle in Japan you’ve seen them all, but the castle view is often worth it.

At that place too Caroline and Lindsey met up with their old Sensei and ate live fish – as in wriggling live fish, but that's their story.
We then got the coach to the Akiyoshidai Plateau and Cave.
Yoga poses - not easy to do in the wind, but by this time Lindsey was operating with some kind of wild energy, possibly from the live fish she’d indigested not too long ago.
The plains had huge ditches in it that looked like giant eagles nest and the rocks had huge gashed in them like those eagles had sharpened their talons on them.

Jelly fish waterfall

These caves are caused by the calcium (which is actually really really old bones of sea creatures that must have roamed there 1000’s of years ago) in the limestone rock being eroded by the rainwater over the years, the crevices in the roak growing bigger, eventually becoming the caves we saw.
The pictures lining the walls leading down to the cave were of the worlds history a bit, which was pretty cool.

Then shinkansen home. Had bento on the train.

And that concludes the last trip with Konan University!

They've been incredable.

In April I'm going to see Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' at Konan Womens University. We went drinking with the sensei's who work there one night at a mexican place in Okamoto and now we've started to work there again! Lookign foward to meeting the girls again. 

Also to look foward to is the Sakura season, my trip to Hokkaido and the Leeds Kanji Exam aftermath!

I really should be studying right now, this blog takes me hours to complete properly. I really should get my priorites straight -_-

1 comment:

  1. looks like you're having an incredible time!