Saturday, April 13, 2013

Spring Breakers: Hiroshima and Miyajima

During the first part of the Japan leg of our trip we were on our own, without a tour. Needless to say it was definitely a culture shock coming from Singapore where everyone spoke English. Although I went to Japanese school after school in elementary school and took Japanese from 7th through 12th grade my Japanese is horrendous at best (I'm sure my grandparents are so ashamed). They really aren't kidding when they say "use it or lose it." Luckily my mom's Japanese is better than mine. Unfortunately as we found out throughout the trip knowing how to speak Japanese doesn't always translate to understanding Japanese.

L to R: Hiroshima before, Hiroshima after, a child's tricycle that survived the blast
Our first stop in Japan was Hiroshima. I have always wanted to visit the Peace Memorial Museum/Park so I was really excited to finally get to go. Let me just say, in all honesty, you feel like a real asshole as an American there. We did the headset tour that takes you around through the museum and the stories you hear are absolutely heart breaking. They have a model of what Hiroshima looked like before and after the a-bomb blast and the devestation is staggering. With everything going on with North Korea it makes me wonder how anyone would ever wish that kind of destruction and pain on another.

Outside the museum is the beautiful park. One of my favorite parts of the park was the Children's Peace Monument where they display the thousands of paper cranes that are folded and sent in like the famous story of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes.
The next day we took a ferry to Miyajima island where we visited the Itsukushima Shrine which is most notably known for their floating torii gate. Both the gate and shrine are built along the beach in such a way that they look like their floating in the water during high tide. When we got there the tide was high enough that the tori gate was in the water, but not quite high enough to have reached the shrine. Either way it was beautiful. The other highlight of Miyajima were all the DEER! The deer are so sweet and docile there...except for when their stealing the food right out of someone's stroller.

Later that day we took the bullet train from Hiroshima to Kyoto where we met up with our tour group. But we'll save the Kyoto recap for another day.

Missed out on the first parts of the spring breakers series? Check out our Hawaii and Singapore posts.

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