Saturday, August 12, 2017

Time for some good old fashioned Hiroshima hospitality

One 10 hour plane ride and 4 hours of trains brought me to this 5 story pagoda (built in the 15th century) on the island of Miyajima (shrine island). It is a UNESCO Word Heritage site.
I took a week off from the busy film industry as Misfits was ending and the Good Doctor was starting up. 
The flight I'm looking for today is Osaka, Japan.

There's my ride, Air Canada Rouge. I upgraded to premium economy, and it was well worth it. Way more leg room for the long flight.

We were over water for the majority of the flight. As we got closer I could see many islands.

I watched a French movie with English sub titles, this line was a little harsh to say the least. 
getting close!

the airport in Osaka, my Friday became a Saturday (16 hour difference)

ahhhh the trains, one at the airport, two to get through Osaka......

then the Bullet Train to Hiroshima!

and thank god Ritsue came up from Hiroshima to hold my hand, I found the ordeal a little intimidating. (It did help that you could have a beer while you rode the train).
The train has the capability to reach speeds of 320 km/h.

Then we landed in Hiroshima, and took one more train to get close to Ritsue's neighbourhood.

Her home was very traditional, including this Tatami mat floor (made of soft rush straw).....

but not this toilet, you need a degree in engineering to figure out all the controls, And the water hits you in places, well, I'm just not used to!

The family shrine to the ancestors.

Ritsue's mother hand made these slippers for my arrival, what a thoughtful gift. It was an honor to wear them.

Ritsue's ride. I tried to get into the passenger seat, which was the driver's seat in Japan. It was my first time experiencing road travel on the opposite side to North America, and I found it fascinating.
Across the street from her house, still not sure on the meaning.

Then it was time for our first road trip.......

I was just soaking up all the cultural differences and similarities.

My first real glimpse of the Sea of Japan and Seto Inland Sea.

Why does all the packaging over here look so much more colorful than back home?

When I saw this as an option, call me prude, but I had to pass and find a more conventional, sitting down type of bathroom.

and then there were the vending machines. They were everywhere, even in neighbourhoods. Yet, you never saw any signs of vandalism, very good.

After Ritsue parked in her top secret spot away from all of the holiday mayhem, we boarded the Miyajima Ferry. I have been known to complain now and again, but honestly, the mid-30 temperatures with the added humidity was a culture shock all it's own! 
Oyster beds

The first thing I noticed was how lush all the mountains were.

approaching Shrine Island.

Apparently there is over 1,000 of these tiny deer on the Island, and they are not afraid of humans or afraid to mooch off of them!

The shrine was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay so that it would appear to be floating on the water, separate from the sacred island, which could be approached by the devout
So much to take in, I was feeling very fortunate to experience it all.

many visitors today, it was a holiday week-end

very cool to see 

many spiritual examples all over the island

Ritsue is doing a prayer ritual at one of the shrines.

We walked by this and sat down and watched. I actually felt sorry for the monkey.
To me it did not represent what Shrine Island was all about.

One of the local streets on the island.

This blog is long enough, It would take me a month to research all of the shrines on the island that we went and saw. So amazing.

This stairway from one shrine to another was so impressive in it's own right

I was in awe the entire day

another example of the faith shown here.
so much detail

You would need more than one day to experience all of the island.

It continued...

and continued.....I felt humbled.

back down in tourist land, 
I showed some restraint by staying away from the very tempting beer vending machine.

wow, cigarettes for the parents, pop for the kids, I haven't seen a cigarette vending machine in Canada for many, many years.

next day, time to fill up the tank, another road trip on Walter Monty's big adventure

very pretty to see the water and the mountains.....
You think there are a lot of Starbuck's in Vancouver. Well, there seemed to be a 7-11 on every block in the Hiroshima area.

Being an old trucker dude, I was fascinated by the difference in the trucks here compared to North America. A lot of them seemed more polished, they would be perfect for the film industry in Vancouver!

Amazing scenery

It takes a bit to get used to being on the wrong side of the road, lol.

My head was on a swivel as I took in the scenery.
Okay, in this heat and humidity, I do not think Iwakuni castle above this forest is on our travel plans today.

We arrived at another historical landmark.

and there's a vending machine waiting for us.

a lots of street vendors, including the fish on a stick stand. (I would have tried it, but it was way, way too hot to enjoy.)

The Nishiki River.

and there we were at the historic Kintai Bridge, originally built in 1673

It was well worth the 300 yen admission.

random, who can resist, a turtle pic

One major thing I noticed as soon as I got to Japan, was the difference in the cars there. This is a good example of what you see on the roads.
There were more shrines to respect here by the bridge.

more wow factor

another masterpiece of history

After visiting the shrine, and making an offering of a few yen, you can get a paper with a fortune on it.

We were blessed enough to be the only two allowed into this shrine prayer room. (They were about to have a prayer session)
after you got your fortune, you tie them on these lines.
its all a trip!

Vaaatttttttt! Gold carp too???

as the road trip continued, I noticed that the main highway included many tunnels through the many mountains. Some were over 2 km long.

digging the trucks
Trusting Ritsue's navigational skills on this one.

Ritsue treated me to a traditional Japanese hotel experience in the resort town of Hagi
I loved the Kikugahama beach resort

We had a incredible meal delivered to our room! So many dishes!
(This clunky old dude had a little trouble being comfortable sitting on the bamboo mats.)
I even had my own kimono, look at me!

Very many new taste experiences for me.

After dinner, a walk on the beach was in order. (a view facing back to the hotel)

The sleep on the bamboo floor was actually very comfortable.

The morning view
breakfast was another full on production

this was hard to leave..
foot spa while having your coffee, oh ya!

not my usual breakfast back home , but while in Rome, I mean Japan.........

saw a cool old school mailbox during our travels

Back on the road....

on one highway as another one passes above us

As Ritsue took me to my next surprise destination, I had to get her to stop to take a couple of pics.

We went by a little fishing village.

I could not get enough of my new surroundings.

random, old winch (not wench) shot

The view made you forget all about the stifling humidity!
I was curious about why no fishing vessels were travelling in or out. Maybe it was not the season.

The view as we climbed above the village.

Ritsue took me to the Motonosumi Inari shrine in Nagato City

Even a hack Samsung phone photographer can ace a few scenery shots here.

and the water..

ok, let's get going to the shrine

Almost there!

The view

and it doesn't seem to matter where you are, you can always count on a vending machine being there

After the amazing shrine experience we headed out again. As we cruised through some gorgeous country roads, we stopped to check out a very amazing view. Never mind the ocean, I saw rice fields, which I have never seen before.

I had to see the rice plants up close.

bonus shot!

It was so hot and humid, Ritsue insisted we stop and get a couple of her favourite ice cream bars. Now that hit the spot!
Onwards! To the Tsunoshima Bridge! 

Oh boy, the Sea of Japan is as gorgeous and maybe even more gorgeouser (is that a word?)

The beach looked pristine. (It was too hot, so no beach for us. (plus, there was fee to use the beach)

and in the middle of all the paradise was reality, this was an industrial operation of some sort

as the week flew by, I found the best parts of the trip were at the home of Ritsue and her mother. 
C'mon? fresh bread and homemade plum jam? Heaven!
Oh my, the one size fits all slippers do not fit all. (My feet are only elevens!)

This was a memorable experience. I spent one afternoon with Ritsue's mother. (google translate is not as accurate as it boasts, just sayin!) We went to a meeting of her retirement peers, and even though there were language barriers, I was treated like one of the gang. (That's her with croquet mallet. I sucked at this activity!)

Honestly! I would of sang the songs, but alas, I can barely speak Japanese, let alone read it.

Afterwards, we went to the local grocery store. You will not find this kind of octopus selection in my Burnaby neighbourhood.

A lot easier to find Daikon (Japanese radish) as well.

Go ahead spoil the guest, I don't mind! Ritsue's mother, Reiko,  prepared this deep fried dish of fish, octopus, veggies and ? (I don't remember everything prepared, but I certainly remember how delicious it was!)
The next day we headed to downtown Hiroshima. It doesn't matter what country you are in, someone always gets paid too much money (in my humble opinion) to create "art?"

We stopped by Ritsue's office to see her workplace and meet some of her co-workers.

Sign in the bathroom, sure hope I did the right thing!

Here comes our bus.

Soaking in all the sights of downtown Hiroshima.

In a mall, these fish were projected onto the floor. They swam around, but the crazy thing was if you got too close to them, they actually swam away.

a little English, an little French, but overall, not very much.

Many old style street cars cruising up and down the main streets

There are not a lot of coffee shops in Hiroshima, but of course there is a Starbucks. Prices very similar to Vancouver.
It was an open air mall, and it was very hot and humid, so cutting through this massive bank to take advantage of the air conditioning seemed like a very good idea.

We were on a mission, down the street we go............

and there it is! Ritsue to us to a, what they call a ticket voucher shop. (I call it scalpers, but not the less......)

We scored 2 tickets to the baseball game, starring the beloved Hiroshima Carp!

It was very straightforward, they had a list of tickets available and the price and dates. 

The open air mall stretched for many blocks.

out into the sreet.....

a moment of realization hit when we came across this building that used to be bank. It was one of very few building still standing downtown town after the atomic bomb was dropped on the city in 1945. (approx. 360 metres away from the hypocenter)

It has been renovated many times.

We had lunch at restaurant. It was very busy, so the only seats available were in the smoking section? really? (the smell was unfortunately familiar. Smoking has been banned in public places in Vancouver for 30 years)

and there it was, the bomb dome in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome). This was very close to where the actual atomic bomb detonated. I had no words, I could only look and wonder.

mind blowing, these pictures are ones my father took when he was in the Canadian Navy back in the 1950's. To think him and I have stood in the same place in Hiroshima. I never heard the stories, he passed away in 1984.

I spent a lot of time at the memorial. All of a sudden, the heat and humidity did not seem to be a problem anymore.

This canal by the bomb dome is very close to........
.The Aioi Bridge (相生橋 aioi hashi) is an unusual "T"-shaped three-way bridge in Hiroshima, Japan. The original bridge, constructed in 1932, was the aiming point for the 1945 Hiroshima atom bomb because its shape was easily recognized from the air.

The memorial tower to the students put to work for the war effort lost in the bombing.

Insert you own thoughts here.

The memorial cenotaph looks towards the bomb dome.

At the museum, a shot of the before

and after

A watch that stopped when the bomb dropped. There were many more tragic examples of the bomb, including burned clothing and haunting stories about the people that died and survived.

The memorial wall was sadly very expansive. 

The museum included pictures of the dead and the survivors of the attack. It also included people in Hiroshima that were not directly affected but were around at the time. Ritsue's grandmother was one of those people.

Across the street from the memorial was a building that also survived the bombing, but I'm sure a lot of visitors do not realize this.

Quite a day to say the least. Back on the streetcar heading for home.

I am not a frequent transit or train user. My thoughts were about how crowded and hot the train was.
Okay, I had to give it a try. There was a vending machine in Ritsue's neighbourhood that had a beer vending machine. Drinking on the street in legal so, I thought once again, " when in Rome." I got out my yen, 300 I think.....

and decided to indulge myself in a frosty beverage

ahhh that hits the spot!

Friday morning we went for a walk around Ritsue's neighbourhood. Above her house was a good view of Hiroshima and the surrounding area.
a lot of haze today affected the view

one little rice paddy in the back of some houses close by

we came across a cemetary close by. I thought this glass statue was very unique

monuments abound. These ones in front are in spirit of unborn children

A place you can light candles or set off fireworks in honor of your departed love ones
They are all family cremation plots

shrine at the cemetery (I forget who it is in honor of)

One more sleep at the Kasai house.

Lifted up my shoe and found this little guy. (we call the skinks back in my home town)
One last trip in her neighbourhood to do a little shopping.

We did find a coffee shop, although $5.00 price tag seemed a little steep for a cup of coffee. 

I also learned that the same bottle of Bacardi gold that I pay $27.00 dollars for in Canada is only $15 here in Hiroshima

Then it was time for the finale. We headed back downtown Friday night.......

and joined the masses and headed towards Mazda Zoom Zoom stadium...

So many followers
We made it to the Hiroshima Carp game.

Hot, humid, and well worth it. This stadium seats 32,000 and is sold out for the whole season. (those seats in front eventually filled up)

draft beer poured right at your seat!

It is a different experience than North American baseball. A lot more singing of songs that everyone seems to know, lots of noise makers, and long red balloons, which everyone blows up and lets go at the end of the 6th inning.

Tonight the Carp lost to the Chunichi Dragons, but we had a great time.

Now this was a trip. After the game, we thought we were the last two to cram on the train, and then the doors opened again and more people were pushed into it. Talk about getting to know your neighbour! I feel sorry for the poor business man I was sweating all over!

My last treat at Ritsue's house Saturday morning.

Nothing like a big ole bowl of eel for breakfast! Yum Yum!
Ritsue got me to the bullet train...(thank-you!)

We said our good-bye for this adventure....

Why do you have sun glasses on Ritsue? (just teasing)

I was a little anxious making the trip to Osaka, because there were two train transfers, but thanks to Ritsue help and my limited I.Q., I managed to find the airport.

survived the transfer at Himeji station.

thanks to Ritsue for the advice, and even I recognize the plane symbol

cruising through Osaka

I make it to the airport knowing that the plane was four hours late. (apparently Air Canada only has one plane going to Japan, lol. The plane was four hours late leaving Vancouver, hence the 4 hours late getting back there.) I did take advantage of the 2,000 yen voucher they gave me for the delay.
Osaka tarmac

one more 2 minute train between terminals (you can see in reflection)

catching up on some pre Japan trip blogging

made it to the gate, too bad the plane hadn't yet.

There she is.

and there is Vancouver 10 hours later. (left Saturday night, arrived Saturday afternoon)
Some of the treats brought back for the kids. 
No time to sleep.......... The kids and I had tickets for the Phantom of the Opera.

I was tired from the trip, but I love this show, I think I managed to stay awake for most of it.