Monday, April 19, 2010

Hiroshima and Miyajima- Now the WHOLE story :)

Over Valentine's Day weekend, Brett had Monday the 15th off, so we decided to take advantage of it. We went on a family trip to Hiroshima, Japan and Miyajima Island. We joked that "nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like an atomic bomb". Despite that, we had a great time! Warning- this is a long post, but believe me, this is WAY narrowed down from the actual number of pictures we took!

We walked to the Fussa train station from base at about 4:15am, in order to catch the first train into Tokyo at 4:47am. We actually fell asleep on the train, but somehow woke up at the Tokyo station (everyone else had already gotten off the train). Once we got off the train in Tokyo, we boarded the Shinkansen (bullet train) for Hiroshima. It is about a 4 hour train ride, which is MUCH faster than driving would be.
We arrived at the station. Since we took the early train, we made it to Hiroshima at about noon. We checked into our hotel and then took off for Peace Memorial Park. The city of Hiroshima is actually quite small and easy to maneuver. They have a trolley system as well as trains and buses.
Peace Memorial Park is located right where the atom bomb exploded. This is the famous Atomic Bomb Dome Building. This building was located near the epicenter of the bomb, and instead of knocking it down, they have turned it into a memorial.

Peace Memorial Park is quite large and beautiful. There are many statues and monuments dedicated to various groups that were affected by World War 2. This one is dedicated to the many college students who lost their lives.
This is the monument for the children who were lost in the war.
The main memorial monument for peace, located just outside the museum.

We walked over to the museum.
We toured about 1/2 the museum, and then took a break near the gift shop. Mallory was enjoying herself and the chairs in the sitting area.

Looking out the window of the museum towards the monument.

This statue was struck as the bomb went off. The force of the bomb left a "shadow" on it's face.
After touring about 1/2 the museum (which only cost 50yen, or about 50 cents, each to tour and is an amazing museum) we were starving. So, we left to go find some lunch and figured we'd just finish the rest of the museum later. Hiroshima is known for Okonomiyaki, which must be Japanese for "delicious"!! Since it is the local food, we decided to give it a try. We loved it!
Daddy and Mal in the Okonomiyaki Restaurant. There is a warmer in the middle of the table to keep the food warm.
The guys making our lunch. Okonomiyaki is basically a thin pancake batter, on which they add cabbage, corn, noodles, meat (if you want it- various kinds), cheese, green onions, and various other ingredients if you choose. They cook them in front of you on a main grill.
Our lunch on our table. After they cook it, they add a DELICIOUS sauce and then put them on the warmer on your table, and you eat if off of there. Mmmm...
The outside of the restaurant, Nagata-ya.
After eating, we wandered around town a bit. This is Hondori Street, one of the main shopping areas. It was neat because it is covered with shops on both sides. It's like an outside/inside mall, if that makes any sense.
A giant monchi-chi. Who remembers those from the 80's?
After walking around for a bit, we realized we wouldn't make it back to the museum before it closed, and we were pretty tired since we got up so early, so we walked back to our hotel. We stayed at a place called the Hotel New Hiroden.
When we booked the trip, they knew it was the 2 of us (and M of course). So they said we needed a "double room". Little did we know, it was a room with 2 twin beds, that were attached to the walls. We had to laugh a bit at that. We each had a very low to the ground bed, in true Japanese style. We put our comforters down on the floor in between the 2 beds and that is where Mallory slept. Our beds were hard, so I think she got the best end of the deal!
Valentine's Day (Sunday) we woke up and were going to go to Miyajima Island. It is just off the mainland coast, and has been known for thousands of years as an island for worship. The beautiful shrine built there is partly in the water when the tide comes in.
We rode the train over to the ferry station, and boarded the ferry to Miyajima Island.

Pulling up to the island. The Tori Gate is built in the water.
It was cold and windy on the ferry!
We got off the ferry and there are goats just roaming around the island. There are signs telling you that they are friendly but that they will eat your stuff. They aren't kidding. This guy took my map out of my hands.
Our family by the Tori Gate (this picture is a prime candidate for a Christmas card picture this year, so you'll probably be seeing it again :)
The shrine. As you can tell, the tide was going out as we were there. The pictures actually look much neater when the water is up, but we would have had to be there at 3am...whatcha gonna do?
There was a very pretty bride and groom getting married at the shrine this weekend.
Inside part of the temple.
Sake casks
After touring the shrine, we walked up the hill toward the rope tram to go up Mt. Misen.
A cute little waterfall along the way.
"wonderful scenery is seen by least"...ok...
Getting on the ropeway
Going up on the ropeway
Mal loved it!
View out towards Hiroshima from the tramway
We made it to the top. "No eating around here"- just fyi!
Beautiful views

Climbing up the mountain
Partway up was this Lover's Sanctuary

Mallory made it to the top too

We walked around the top, took pictures, and rode the tram back down. At the bottom of the mountain, we explored the island a bit more.
Brett the Samurai
The 5 story pagoda near the shrine

The world's largest rice scoop. I'd hate to see the plate that rice goes on, or the person who eats that much rice!
The maple leaf is a symbol of the island. This was basically a fried donut in the maple leaf shape. It was delicious!
Oysters are a delicacy on the island. I'm not a fan, but Brett needed to try them.
He said they were pretty good actually.
After our day on Miyajima Island, we headed back to the mainland. We were hungry, so we stopped for dinner. We ate Okonomiyaki again- we are addicts!
Mal just ate her monkey paci :)
This was the hair dryer at our hotel. It says "please do not use for the other purpose other than drying your hair". Ummm....ok.
Monday morning we got up and went to Hiroshima Castle. It was cold and rainy again, and most of the signs were only in Japanese, so it didn't take us that long to tour.
Crossing the moat
The bathroom signs- aren't they cute?

This huge drum was inside the castle. Mallory held the sticks and did beat on it a bit. I think she has picked up her drumming skills from Kindermusic, but Brett says they are all from him.
The front of the castle. It burned down during World War 2, but has since been rebuilt.
View from the top, out over Hiroshima City. If you look closely, the sign on one of those buildings says "Texas"!
After the castle, we walked back over to Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome again.

We also toured the rest of the museum that we didn't get to the first day. This tricycle and helmet belonged to a 4 year old who was riding it outside when the bomb went off. He was treated in his house for a few days by his parents, but ended up passing away. His father buried him and his trike in their backyard. After the park and museum were opened, he dug it up and donated it, along with the story.
A school uniform worn by a student who was walking outside when the bomb went off.
After our museum visit, and a wonderful weekend away, we hopped back on the Shinkansen and rode it home. Here is Brett and Mallory on the bullet train. She's not really drinking from the water bottle- just gnawing on the lid.
The amazing Quinns were our puppy sitters for the weekend. Mike left us a "report card", written in pilot speak, for Maverick. In case you don't read Air Force- he did great :)
We were asked by others if we felt out of place being in a city where Americans cruelly took the lives of many Japanese back in WW2. Honestly, no. Not once have I ever felt out of place anywhere in Japan, even here. In fact, they always go out of their way to make you feel welcome, and try to work thru the language barrier as best they can. This city that has suffered such a catastrophic event is now dedicated to world peace. We found that the museum was a bit skewed in their direction. I think that Pearl Harbor was mentioned once in one small paragraph- they left that detail out of most of the war facts. However, the over all theme was definitely bringing an end to atomic weapons world wide and bringing peace to all nations. That is a lofty goal to be sure, but one worth always striving for.
What a wonderful, educational trip and fun-filled weekend. We had a great time as a family, and really enjoyed learning more about this great country called Japan!