Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hiroshima...Some History, Germans and Plum wine. Day 10, 11, and 12 Japan

We arrived at Hiroshima around 7pm and realized that we needed to get to the other side of the station to get to another K's hostel. So Eden and I have come to the realization that we have awful sense of direction and our 2 brains combined cannot figure out our destination. We found a cross walk and crossed over and stopped in front of a restaurant and this little old woman noticed we were lost so she tried to help us. Thankfully this other woman walked by and she offered to take us to our destination. We have decided to tell some people that we are from Canada specifically from New Brunswick we just seem to get better responses when we say we are Canadian and the Japanese get excited. So the woman brought us to K's hostel and we thanked her and said good night.

Next morning our plan was to head to the A-bomb dome and Peace Memorial Park. Now first things first we needed breakfast and caffeine. We walked down to the entrance of the hostel and started talking to these 2 German girls who were on the same breakfast mission. So the hostel told us to go to a cafe which was close to all of Hiroshima's sights. Eden, the 2 German girls Luca and Cari, and I got to the cafe and we all chose this thing that looked like a half of a grilled cheese. We all sat down took a bite of what we bought and were all disappointed it was this sweet pastry thing with sweet cheese and was not satisfying at all. Breakfast has been a difficult meal for me here they don't do egg and cheese on a bagel and everything has bacon or pork in it so no dice for this Jew if I want to try to keep kosher.

Anyways we made plans to meet the girls later for dinner and Eden and I headed to the sights. We first went to the A-bomb dome which stands as a reminder of the destruction visited upon Hiroshima. In 1945 the U.S. ordered the atom bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima without warning. This building served as the Industrial Promotion Hall until the bomb exploded almost directly above it. Numerous people were killed or badly burned and others suffered harmful side effects from the radiation. This building is preserved as a memorial and is a symbol of the city's tragic past.

We then walked to the children's peace monument where there is a collection of origami paper cranes. Story has it that if you create a 1,000 paper cranes you make a wish and it will come true. This is inspired by a girl who was exposed to the radiation of the bomb and developed leukemia at age 11 in 1955 who folded 1,000 paper cranes and wished to recover. She died before reaching her goal.

Next was the Peace Memorial Museum which tells the story and the history of Japan, the wars and what lead to the drop of the atom bomb. We were in their for about an hour reading all the panels without getting too much into it what is mentioned is that after Pearl Harbor the UK and U.S demanded that Japan sign a peace treaty. They refused to sign it and this is what lead to the tragedy of the Hiroshima bombing. It was noted that the U.S. dropped the bomb without warning and their were a number of documents advising against that decision. After the bombing there were a number of protest against nuclear war and the use of nuclear weapons. When you walk further into the museum you get to see the aftermath of the bomb. Hiroshima was completely destroyed and their were stories of children who made it home to their parents burned and died shortly after. Their burned clothing is displayed as well as examples of illnesses people experienced. I walked out of the museum depressed and a bit ashamed to be American.

Even though we were a bit somber we needed to eat lunch and we went to a restaurant called zucchini a tapas place recommended by Lonely Planet. We both ordered paella but mine was vegetarian. The meal came with a glass of sangria and ice cream for dessert this was the best western meal we have had since we have been here.

After lunch we headed to Hiroshima castle. There was not much to see but we got to see samurai garments and weapons. There was also an area where you can play dress up. Eden dressed up as a samurai while I put on the kimono and we played dress up and entertained this couple while they took ridiculous photos of us. We then made our way to the bus station to try to get tickets to head up to Mount Fuji we had no luck and again ran into the language barrier thing we gave up and went to meet our new friends for dinner.

Luca and Cari were waiting for us and Jonathan joined us who is also German. Luca and Cari are 19 and Luca and I totally bonded and realized she is the German 19 year old version of me. I saw myself in her... she is silly, makes mistakes but is learning from them, tries to be a good listener, is a flirt and is boy crazy and her bday is also in January. We were walking around Hiroshima looking for a bar and we stumbled upon a small bar where you mix different flavors with beer or liquor. I had my first experience with Japanese plum wine and soda. It was like drinking a wine cooler but after 5 you are done! The bartender told us to go to a restaurant down the street to have Hiroshima style okonomiyaki. Yah try to say that word 5 times fast I dare you! It is a patty or noodles egg meat and sauce. You can add fish, mochi and cheese or other meat to it. Normally they all come with pork and egg but they were nice enough to make one without pork so I could sample it. The restaurant was an awesome experience you had to take your shoes off and sit on pillow on the ground in your own private room and they give you a buzzer to press for service. Great thing about Japan is tipping does not exist here... Little side note.

So we all got drunk off beer and wine and headed out to a 7 eleven which are everywhere and bought some more beer and wine. We then walked to a playground near the river to swing on the swing set and go down the slide. Jonathan and Cari went closer to the river and Luca, Eden and I waited for this sketchy guy on a bike to leave the park so Eden could find a place to pee without being seen. He rode his bike closer so us and we exchanged a number of oys and he almost got off the bike to talk to us. Eden and I called out for Jonathan. Luca projected "Goodbye!" And he got the hint and left us alone. He was a really sketchy character. We attract a lot of attention since we are not Japanese and guys think its amusing to say hi and give us high fives.

We decided to go back to the hostel since Luca and I were covered in bug bites. We continued to drink and lounge. These 2 French guys joined us as well. Luca picked up a guitar and we started to sing while others amused themselves by having one of the French guys speak French. By 4am it was time to pass out.

In case you were wondering we figured out our Mount Fuji plans and are on a bus heading to Osaka. Stay tuned.

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