Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hiroshima with Mama Callie

We had a lucky peek at Mt. Fuji on our flight down to Hiroshima! Below is a pic of a Japanese plane. The Japanese somehow manage to make anything and everything cute! (although I was happy we didn't have a pikachu plane)

Upon arrival in Hiroshima we went exploring on foot around the city. Our first stop were the pretty gardens, ponds and tea houses of Shukkei-en. My mom practiced trying to be zen.

We couldn't believe the weather!!! No snow, the grass was GREEN and the trees actually had flowers!!!! We ain't in Hokkaido no more!!!!!!

Our next stop was Hirsoshima Castle... Everyone pokes fun at how small it is and even my guide book said, "there's little reason to proceed" - but since he was my first Japanese castle I loved him!

My mom and I played samurai warriors outside before heading back to the hotel to meet my friend's friends for okonomiyaki!!!

Sadly no crazy dragons were in the moat on the way out. :-(

One of my best girlfriends in Sapporo grew up in Hiroshima so she connected me with her old friends who are still living there.

They took us for okonomiyaki (a yummy batter pancakey dish.) I was sooooo excited to try Hiroshima's famed and unique soba noodle style of okonomiyaki!

Mmmmm.... We went for a pork/shrimp/soba noodle combo. It was DEEEEEEEELISH!!!!! (we went back everyday for more!)

Mmmmmmmm... It put Sapporo's okonomiyaki to shame!
More on Okonomiyaki:

After we stuffed ourselves with okonomiyaki, my mom asked the boys to take her to a Pachinko parlor and teach her how to do it! (although they were almost as clueless as we were! hahah)

Another post on Pachinko coming soon... :-)

Day 2: Peace Memorial Park and Museum

We started at the A-bomb Dome (Gembaku Doumu.) It was almost at the hypocenter of the blast and was one of the few structures in the surrounding 3km that remained standing.

We spent a good few hours at the Peace Memorial Museum which showed a moving and balanced picture of why the atrocity took place, as well its harrowing effects.

It leaves you in tears and speechless.

It's a beautiful museum that everyone should visit!

The place I wanted to see the most was the Children's Peace Monument. I remember reading the story about Sasaki Sadako when I was young. We also spent time in my English classes in Sapporo talking about her story. For those of you who don't know the story - Sasaki Sadako survived the atomic bomb when she was only a few years old. Years later when she was 12 she fell ill with leukemia and started to fold cranes while in the hospital in the hope that if she reached 1,000 she'd be cured. Sadly she died before reaching her goal, but her classmates and later children from all over the world continued to fold and send cranes to her... later this monument was built.

Surrounding the monument are thousands and thousands of colorful paper cranes sent by schoolchildren from all around the world. They send messages of peace and love. We were lucky to see a Junior High School group on a field trip. The kids were reading their poems and hopes for peace and love in the world.

Monument in Memory of the Korean Victims of the Bomb.

After a sombering day at the Peace Park and Museum we were luckily able to cheer up by going out with my friend's twin brother and sister. They took us out to a beautiful traditional Japanese restaurant. mmmmmmm....

It was great to meet up with some locals who were able to show us around town and take us to the hot spots at night. :-)

Shopping is always a fun adventure in Japan. While shopping in Hiroshima we ran into OBAMA!!!!! He was dressed to the 9's in a cherry blossom pink leotard!

My Mom also tried out a bday hat and goggles for her bday while I opted for a tako yaki (octopus ball) hat. Ahhhhh Hiroshima - we'll miss you!!!!!!!!

more photos:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Miyajima with Mama Callie

On Valentine's Day my mom and I took a ferry boat over to Miyajima Island where the famous floating otorii gate is. We were lucky cause there was a sporadic heat wave that hit Hiroshima so the weather was gorgeous!!!!!! Another bonus was that we happened to go during the annual OYSTER FESTIVAL!!!!! (kaki matsuri!!!!) whoo hoooooo...

On the ferry ride over we saw fishermen sorting their thousands of oysters... and when we arrived at the Miyajima port the oyster festival was already in full swing!

There were lines and lines and lines of people waiting to grill up and chow down on their oysters.

We were also lucky to catch a crazy dragon dance contortionist performance...

After smelling enough of the oysters and watching the dragon show we meandered into Miyajima town... The first thing you notice are the dozens and dozens of deer wandering the streets!!! They especially were fond of my mom and ate up her map. Other than that they were sooo friendly.

After our photo shoot with the deers we went to see the floating Otorii gate during high tide.

Then we went to Itsukushima Shrine... which was built 1,400 years ago. It was built over water so it felt like we were still on a boat. We struck it lucky once again because we saw a traditional Japanese wedding procession.

When the wedding group spotted me on the shrine they yelled for me to come over and pose for photos with the fancy newleyweds. hahahaha... I looked a bit out of place in my grubby shirt and jeans.

We then took the ropeway up to Mt. Misen for views across the islands and Seto Inland Sea... I also did a circuit hike which went around the mountain to tiny little temples dotted along the cliffsides.

Down at the bottom there were heaps of deer - but up on Mt. Misen monkeys were EVERYWHERE!!!! Signs warned us of the cheeky monkeys who love stealing purses, cameras and moneys. They even provided us free lockers were we could lock away our valuables before hiking around the mountain.

Back at the bottom we explored Miyajima a bit more... and saw the 5 storied Pagoda and Senjokaku (hall of 1,000 mats)

The town itself was so pretty and different to Sapporo!!!! So many traditional houses, canals, little alleyways.... and even monkeys who stood on their heads for money. hahaha...

The boys in Hiroshima and Miyajima were soooo friendly!!!

More boys talked to me in 4 days than my entire 6 months in Sapporo! I even had a date lined up back in Hiroshima for Valentine's day!!!

I'm gonna miss this place ;-(

By the time we were ready to head back home it was low tide so we were able to wander all the way out to otorii gate.

Before heading back to Hiroshima we stopped for a meal of Miyajima's famed dish: anago meshi - grilled eel. It was DEEEEELISH!!!!!!

For more pics: