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Tales from Japan – part 3

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Thursday…oh what to say about Thursday. We caught a cab from our ryokan to our previous ryokan, where we had stashed most of our luggage. In our early morning exuberance, we left our laptop in the cab and promptly freaked out. Fortunately, the ryokan staff was extremely helpful and we had the laptop back within 10 minutes. 10 scary, scary minutes. After that, it was non-stop travel to Miyajima. Our day can be summarized like this:

  • Taxi
  • Walk
  • Train
  • Shinkansen (bullet train)
  • Another shinkansen
  • Train
  • Ferry

The shinkansens were great; I had never been on a bullet train before. Lots of legroom and nice views along the way. After a while though, I desperately wanted to be done traveling.

The shinkansen.

A mystery snack on the train.

Miyajima was an oasis though, and we were immediately treated to a private dinner of exquisite food with an attentive waitstaff bring us course after course. We took a stroll after dinner to see the torii in the water. It is large enough that boats loaded down with raucous tourists drive though it, and projects a calm presence even when the tourist boat has a light-up dragon head.

Dinner in Miyajima.

A boat passing through the torii.

On Friday morning we had much more time to explore the island. The temple here is gorgeous beyond words. Walking past the tame deer that live on the island, we headed up what seemed to be an endless stone staircase. The climb was well worth it, and we were greeted at the top with a path surrounded by statues of Buddha. We explored all the shrines, including a cave that absolutely packed with statues. Miyajima offered far more than we had time to look at it, but we had to leave early to make a pilgrimage to a different kind of shrine: the Peace Memorial at Hiroshima.

The steps to the temple.

A path lined with uniquely carved Buddhas.

Inside a temple.

The deer on the island are tame.

After a short trip to the Hiroshima train station, we caught a cab and asked to be taken to the A-Bomb Dome. The dome in question is the top of a crumbling structure that was the closest building to the blast that remained standing. We zipped through the city, swung around a corner and it suddenly came into view. The dome is a very sobering sight. Our cab driver told Anne “peace” as we got out onto the street. Nearly fifteen years ago, when I was at the Air Force Academy, I toured American nuclear missile silos and considered working in one as a post-graduation career path. Seeing Hiroshima after nearly taking that road with my life was…troubling. We walked around the memorial, went through the museum, and had to rush back to the train station to take a shinkansen bound for Osaka.

The A-Bomb Dome.

The dome in its setting in the heart of Hiroshima.


Written by Scott

November 18, 2007 at 10:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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2 Responses

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  1. I get teary whenever I remember Hiroshima. Were there tons of mulit-colored 1000 paper cranes placed everywhere? They are so touching and beautiful.


    November 18, 2007 at 10:41 pm

  2. Yeah, the cranes were there. It’s hard to do the peace memorial justice in a blog post, so much of it is about the atmosphere and the setting of the place. The original cranes, by the girl who got sick from the radiation, are preserved in the museum right next to the memorial. That was pretty overwhelming to see.


    November 18, 2007 at 10:57 pm

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