Posted by Heliocentrism on January 14, 2011
December 27-28, 2010
The backpacking rookie
This was my nephew’s first time going on any type of backpacking trip. Though it was a very short trip, it was still fun seeing him experiencing Japan. I think he enjoyed it because he kept running off the take pictures of stuff or to ask questions of passers by.
The trip started out with us not knowing where the bus stop was. I knew which block the stop was on, but I didn’t know the exact location. Makeeya got a guy working at a nearby Starbucks to help us. We found it with plenty of time to catch the bus.
We knew the departure and arrival time, but everything else was a mystery to be discovered along the way. When we stopped somewhere near Bungo-Takada for what I thought was a rest stop. We were actually waiting to board a ferry.
The sea was rough and if I had looked out at the waves I could have made myself seasick. I went up stairs where the padded seat were and laid out to sleep. I could almost pretend that I was a baby being rocked to sleep by an overly aggressive mother.
It was night by the time we got to our hostel in Hiroshima. We had to leave for Kyoto at noon the next day, so we wanted to wake up early to see the sights. We decided to get something to eat then go to bed early.
Grape ≠ Grapefruit
The lady at the front desk recommended an restaurant a few blocks away from the hostel and gave us a map. It was pretty easy to find.
No one there spoke English, but fortunately they had an English menu. It had all the dishes written in both English and Japanese. We picked what we wanted to order and pointed to it. The waitress would then look at the corresponding Japanese translation. It’s a great system.
But there was a mis-translation in the drinks section. We all ordered the pomegranate-grape drink on the menu, only to be given grapefruit juice. We tried to explain to them what happened, but there was no use. I ordered Calpis instead.
Ok, the name is horrible, but the drink itself is divine!
I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t eat chicken.
My mom is a vegetarian which makes eating in Asia a bit of a challenge. In most Asian countries the people do not eat a lot of meat, but there is a little meat in everything, even the kim chee has prawns in it.
I am not a vegetarian, but many of my friends who are, have told me how hard it is to eat in most restaurants in Asia. When they ask what dishes have no meat the waitors usually recommends a chicken or seafood dish. The concept of not eating anything that has ever had a mother is complete baffling to many Asians. This is why many western vegetarians living in Asia quickly fall in love with some India/ Nepali restaurant near their apartment.
So before we went to the restaurant I, on my mom’s behalf, ask the hostel receptionist to write a note to the waitress. I asked that the paper say that my mom was vegetarian and will not eat chicken, fish, beef, pork,… Even with the paper, we still had trouble ordering my mom’s food. They read the paper and thought, “This must be a mistake. How is this even possible?”
Just like my home
We took a Japanese-style family room in the hostel. This meant that we would sleep on futons placed on the floor. The gang was delighted to try out sleeping in a traditional Japanese way until I told them that the accommodations would have them sleeping in the same fashion as they had been sleeping at my place. The only difference would be that now the sheets match.
Now we just want peace.
The next day we went to the area of Hiroshima where the first atomic bomb was dropped.
While on Christmas break during grad-school in England, I visited my sister in D.C. She took me to the section of the Air and Space Museum at the Dulles Airport. They had the Enola Gay on display. In case you don’t know, that is the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.
I walked up to it and touched it. It was cold. It didn’t look scary like one would expect something that had killed so many people in such a short time would. It looked goofy and awkward as if it were hiding it’s true nature.
I wondered how Enola Gay, the mother of the pilot, felt when she heard about her namesake. Did it bother her? Did she wonder what on earth was her son thinking? How would I feel if someone named a bomb dropping plane after me?
It is a somber place. I don’t have to tell you how I felt walking around Peace Park in Hiroshima; you can imagine it for yourself.
I was surprised at how things were portrayed. I’ve visited many war memorials and monuments dedicated to fallen soldiers and civilians. There is usually some finger pointing that shows though. This one places no blame on anything other than the war. To me it said that it doesn’t matter who was right or who was wrong, having an atomic bomb dropped on your city for whatever reason, justified or not, is not a good thing for anybody and that peace should be more valued by every country.
The bus stop for this bus is across the street from the Tokiwa near Oita Station, in front of the Forus.
- Oita to Hiroshima – 5,700YEN or
- 4,750YEN with a group discount
- Bus leaves Oita at 10:09 and gets to Hiroshima at 16:12
- There is a bathroom on the bus.
- The ticket for this bus ride includes a boat ride from Kyushu to Honshu. But you can buy tickets for the boat alone.
- Coordinates 34°23’33.0″N 132°28’25.7″E
The nearest Station is Hiroshima Station.
Minami-ku, Hiroshima city,
- Depends on the room, but Dorm rooms are 2,500YEN/ night.
- the doors are lock after a certain hour. I don’t remember what time.
- No free parking, but there is paid parking nearby. Ask about the cheaper weekend parking areas.
Hiroshima Peace Park
- 34°23’34.1″N 132°27’08.1″E
- Take the tram #2, 3, 6 or 7 to Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome-Mae)
- This will put you right in front of the dome.
- From there you can cross the bridge and head south to see the park, the museums, and other monuments.
- Memorial Hall
Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
(in the Peace Memorial Park)
- Peace Museum
Peace Memorial Museum
Naka-ku, Hiroshima City
Peace Memorial Museum
- Most are free.
- The Peace Museum cost 50Yen to enter.
- The park is always open.
- The museum and hall’s times are 8:30 – 17:00.