About Me

Ikawa-cho Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima-ken, Japan
I was recently accepted by the JET program as an assistant English teacher in Japan for one year.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

my trip to hiroshima part one: day one

hello blog, and welcome to my trip to hiroshima part one: day one
i took a train to hiroshima, by myself, well actually three trains, during "golden week" which is a period of successive national holidays: constitution day, green day, and children's day. from my house hiroshima is about 3 hours away, maybe a little less, and it costs around 7500 yen or a little more than $75 US to get there. let's get started.

here is a bridge i crossed by train. i live on an island, so i had to go over some water to get to the mainland of japan, or honshuu, the biggest of the 4 main islands, where hiroshima is.

i took a train two stops west, then another train for a while north, to okayama, where i got on this thing. this is the infamous "bullet train" although here it is called the special new express train, or something. it is like being on an airplane, really, and it moves so fast. kind of expensive though, even for an unreserved seat.

soon i got to hiroshima and up to my little hotel room where i threw my sweatshirt on the bed. the room was cute and cheap! only 6000 yen per day, i think, so like way less than $100. i think two people could have even fit nicely in this little room.

i got to the hotel from the trainstation by way of one of these - streetcars. they are like trolleys, or above ground subways, or just trains. they move along tracks in the road and stop at stoplights and crosswalks. they are cheap too but confusing. i think i understood what i was doing at the very end of the trip. oh by the way these photos are in order of when i took them, and i only deleted a few. so stay with me.

check this out. it is a covered shopping arcade that started by my hotel and, if you follow it all the way to the end about ten blocks, ends at the atomic bomb dome and the peace park, where the museums and monuments are. in this photo there is a mcdonalds (red and yellow arches) across the street from a shinto shrine (rope and hanging white paper). i just thought it was an interesting situation.

here is the shrine from the front. it is really just a little wooden box you can throw money in. maybe some stuff happens up those steps, i am not sure. it looked closed.

this store is called octopus army.

crazy balloon artist entertainer man with black balloon hat and red balloon cat. pink balloon on the way. small crowd was around him.

if you go to hiroshima, maybe you will see this guy, who was tan and red from standing out in the sun all day. it got warmer the week i was there, hot even, for the first time all year. but this guy was SCREAMING, chanting OHMMM as loud as he could, i guess looking for buddhist donations. later there would be other people doing this. some had hats, some were ladies, one beat a drum, and some were quiet.

i walked around a lot and decided i wasn't ready for the a-bomb stuff, so i walked north, where i found the hiroshima museum of art. it was small, really small, two main buildings, special exhibit and permanent collection. the permanent collection was in that circular building. i think i walked straight in without buying a ticket. lots of semi-modern, late 1800s early 1900s european and european stlye (by japanese people) art. i think they were having an exhibit on dutch paintings over time? it was pretty boring but i liked it.

i walked further north and found hiroshima castle, which was destroyed in 45 but rebuilt. sorry i do not remember that light post being in this photo.

this is one of the two entrance gates. there was a big moat all around the castle.

from within the compound, with a stone map. i walked up to the castle but did not want to pay to go in and up, because it was hot, and i wasn't very interested.

took this picture and turned around. it wasn't as impressive or as huge as osaka castle was. that thing was massive. this was more modest.

snapped this picture of a cool car on my way out of the castle. now i notice the guy was posing. his girlfriend laughed when i took it. very cool car.

so i was looking at the map and i was like ok if i am here the peace dome should be right there...and there it was. spooky.

but this monument, i think to children, was in front of it. it was kind of nice, if you pressed a button a voice talked about it in english! there are little doves at the top.

and the god of peace, i guess, at the bottom, being peaceful.

and then like a bajillion paper cranes attached to this thing, because there was one girl named sadako sasaki who was 2 when she lived a mile away from where the bomb dropped, and 9 years later she got leukemia. her friend was like if you fold 1,000 paper cranes your wish will come true and she was like 'okay i want to not die' but it didn't work out because she died a year later. her mom said it was an atomic bomb disease so i guess it was. this is why paper cranes mean peace now, i think. there are a ton of them here, from people from different schools, and even more later at the sadako sasaki memorial itself, which is crazy.

and here is the dome. which used to be a government bureau of industry, or something, before the bomb blew up a block away from it and killed everyone inside. eventually the city of hiroshima passed a law that this building will be maintained as a symbol of the devastation of the bomb and a reminder and a symbol of peace for eternity, in perpetuity, forever. the corner of it came out to where that foundation is. i was not emotionally prepared for any more bomb related stuff, so i turned around and headed back to the hotel.

i think this is a cool picture, do you? parking lot, naked lady sculpture, a bunch of discarded juice boxes and soda cans, coke machine and a benz. stuff like this all around the city, and all around japan in general.

i took this picture at like 6 PM. these people are waiting in line for okonomiyaki, a pancake shaped japanese food that hiroshima is famous for, because they do it differently than how the rest of japan does.

and another very long line. i was like what gives, i dont want to wait on that line. so i ate somewhere else and wandered around later at night until i found a smaller place.

there used to be a big kirin beer factory in hiroshima near the train station, i read. kirin means giraffe, but the logo is a dragon. go figure! big sign was kind of neat.

this is a photo of the front of a pet shop from across the street. it took a couple of tries but i think this one turned out pretty well. i don't think they sell monkeys or apes, so that's false advertising, just for cuteness.

this little rodin's thinker was across the street from my hotel on the corner. i bet he was thinking about eating crab at that restaurant.

and here is the outisde of my hotel, HOTEL ACTIVE! really the best name ever. i would go back there again, seriously, because they had free western buffet style breakfasts every morning, and it was just a nice place.

so later i found the okonomiyaki place that wasn't crowded. just a few guys eating a drinking, so i became a curiosity to them for the night. the owner's 5 year old son kept poking me in the back, and i would be like speak english, and he's say "no way!" but about the food. right. so anywhere else in japan, you will get a bowl filled with batter liquid, cabbage, and seafood and pork ingredients, and you are expected to pour that onto a griddle, let it cook, flip it, and then cover it with sauce and mayo and eat it. not so in hiroshima. instead of all mixed up together, hiroshima okonomiyaki is a delicate layered situation. first a little circle of batter is cooked up, upon which a ton of cabbage is stacked. then seafood, pork, while some noodles are cooked elsewhere, and an egg is mushed up and fried. the whole thing gets flipped two or three times, and then you put sauce and mayo on it. it was great! i am telling you.

here is the finished product, sprinkled with sesame seeds and seaweed flakes. it was delicious. i was 1/4th the way done before the chef handed me the mayo spray bottle, which was extra great. in hiroshima it's the style to eat this thing with the little metal spatula, so i tried that and resorted to chopsticks when it became impossible.

ahahaa and here i am about to eat. this picture was taken by a 40 year old computer programmer with no girlfriend. on the right is the chef and under my head is this weirdo guy who was sitting next to me. also the chef's wife is there. you can see the little metal spatula, even. wow, the chef is holding a big cabbage head. awesome.

so then i walked around more, and took this picture of hiroshima at night. it is like any major japanese city, really. not as intense and big as osaka, though. they have it all. pachinko, slot machines, sketchy hotels by the hour, video arcades, thousands of tiny little bars on high floors of buildings with weird names, convenience stores, everything.

here are to japanese girls i met at a bar throwing the victory sign, which everyone does automatically. the one on the right even showed up the second night i went to that bar, because she goes out with one of the guys who works there. i was an interesting spectacle to them, which was okay.
and that is it for my first day in hiroshima. i hope you liked it. there are two more days coming up, so stay tuned.
i bought a dollar's worth of shrimp, which is like 15 little shrimp, so i am going to make shrimpy broccoli pasta for dinner tonight.
liz and sammy are coming over soon, and then right after that i get to go home, which i am looking excited for. alright. have a good one.


  1. Hi Russel, I just found your blog - you have a ton of great photos throughout. I just got accepted into JET and received an excel sheet that reads 徳島県 Tokushima-ken 三好市 Miyoshi-shi - I wonder if I'm replacing you, I read in your blog that you decided not to sign up for a new year. Have you guys heard who your replacement JETs are yet? If it's Ian from America that's me and I'd love to bother you with questions. All I know is I'm Miyoshi-shi but that seems to be big, is that the Iya Valley? Or could it be any number of towns in Miyoshi? Well, keep posting the good photos - cheers, Ian

  2. Ian
    It is very possible that you are my replacement! Please email me at russell.lifson@gmail.com so we can discuss

  3. Yum...Okonomiyaki.
    And that hotel name is hilarious, especially with the ! at the end.