A Travellerspoint blog

Hiroshima again and an incredible man


View The Big One on ClareRoach's travel map.

Hiroshima (Masahiro Sasaki - A truly incredible human being)

Whilst staying in Miyazato, a little island off Hiroshima I stumbled across an inviting looking cafe in one of the backstreets which also had a sign advertising a gallery exhibition which caught my eye.

I went in focused on a cold drink to cool down. I got talking to the cafe owner and explained I'd been at the Peace Museum and found it very moving. She then explained that she had been two years old at the time the bomb was dropped and was 3km away from the centre. She has two older siblings and said that they are also well but remained silent on the remainder of her family. conversation was difficult because of the language barriers but the sadness was evident.

She then told me that she was renting part of her space for the exhibition which was focused on the Atomic Bomb. Two ladies joined me for a while, who it turns out are the family of the artist. we chatted for a while (again not easily) and then the artist Masahiro Sasaki came and introduced himself.

He spoke excellent English and is a lovely man. I then spent a very enjoyable and informative 30/40 minutes with the artist. His paintings are outstanding. There were four in total. One of the Dome illustrated in peace, one of it after the bomb had hit and two of ground zero images. They really are well done and capture something different. The Dome in peace was the one I related to the most and it turns out it is Masahiros favourite also.

What he then told me, brought a tear to my eye. There are stacks of large books lined up on the table each containing thousands of paintings, accompanied by a prayer. Masahiro explained to me that for the past six years, EVERY DAY he paints a different picture and writes a different prayer for peace and continues to do so.

Mashahiro was extremely grateful to me for visiting. He gave me a gift of one of his postcard paintings which he signed and I in returned became the first entry in a visitors book. The exhibition will remain in Miyajima and I hope will attract many visitors who will gain a true insight

For me this exhibition and artist speak volumes about Japan and the Japanese culture and if in Miyajima is a must to visit.

Thank you for sharing Mashario.

Posted by ClareRoach 00:39 Comments (0)

Hiroshima


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This was somewhere I'd always wanted to visit for some reason and I nearly changed my mind when I realised how far it was from Tokyo and how much tickets would cost for train etc.Anyway, as this blog is called Hiroshima it's obvious that I decided to go anyway and I'm so glad I did.

As I was already in Kyoto, I took a early bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima and then a land bus, which seemed to me to be the same as a bus but a bit slower with less translation etc. Arrived at the Hiroshima main sites nice and early and started with the Atomic Bomb Dome which is The symbol of Hiroshima. Already from reading the information around the site you can feel the enormity of what happened here and everyone is quietly reading the information signs dotted around which include some home made laminated postings of survivor stories with links to their own personal blogs.

After taking a few photos I moved onto the Childrens Peace Monument which is a monument for peace to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. (More about Sadako to follow)

Next was the Cenotaph for the A Bomb Victims which sits in the middle of the Peace Memorial Park and carries an epitaph: "Rest in Peace, for the error shall not be repeated". The central stone room carries the list of name of both domestic and overseas A-bomb victims.

There were many other areas of interest in the park. Too many to mention individually here but these were the most notable monuments.

Finally I made my way over to the Peace Museum. I was feeling quite somber as I entered the building but nothing could have prepared me for the story that unravelled as I followed the 'route' around the museum. I didn't take a single photograph as somehow it felt intrusive and inappropriate (it wasn't prohibited and some people did, just not comfortable for me). The museum is a mix of facts, exhibits, photos and personal stories and is hugely humbling.

Lots of the personal accounts are in relation to children as they had been taken out of schools across the region and drafted into the area to help with the war effort. They are heartbreaking. One story that stayed with me and is well know is that of a little girl called Sadako Saski who I mentioned earlier.

Sadako was two years old when she was exposed to the A-bomb. She had no apparent injuries and grew into a strong and healthy girl. However, nine years later she suddenly developed signs of an illness and was diagnosed with leukemia and was admitted to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. she believed that folding paper cranes would help her recover. She set out to fold a 1,000 but continued beyond praying for her wish to live as she made each one, right up to the end. On October 25, 1955, when after an eight-month struggle with the disease, she passed away.

Sadako's death triggered a campaign to build a monument to pray for world peace and the peaceful repose of the many children killed by the atomic bomb. Later, this story spread to the world, and now, approximately 10 million cranes are offered each year before the Children's Peace Monument.

Before going to Hiroshima, I had seen the little origami cranes in lots of places but not realised their significance. They have now become a worldwide symbol of peace and I picked up one in the gift shop on my way out which will stay with me whilst I travel.

All in all, it is harrowing in places and deeply moving. What struck me was how the Japanese have reacted to this most hideous event. The focus is all on peace and mixing with other cultures, welcoming and being kind to each other. Overall I came away feeling saddened that it could ever have happened and would urge anyone reading this to make their own visit to Hiroshima

Posted by ClareRoach 16:02 Comments (0)

Kyoto, temples, shrines and cold coffee


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I was in the train and realised we were at my stop for Kyoto and I hadn't noticed busy writing my blog. I had to yell wait as I frantically grabbed my stuff together. I don't think it's the done thing in Japan but I did manage to get off - extremely flustered and looking like I'd just stepped out of the shower, again! The description of how to get to my Ryakon (traditional Japanese B&B said about a 7 minute walk from the East Gate exit of the station. They were lying or else my heavy backpack turned it into about a 35/40 minute walk.

First impressions of the Ryakon were much as I had expected with the Japanese style futon on a rafia floor. I hadn't expected all the rules which were a little surprising. I was provided with Japanese style slippers and left my lovely sketchers in a pigeon hole in reception. Probably a good idea and my room will smell nicer this evening! Anyway, I'd only been in my room a minute or two when there was a tap. The guy had come to tell me I couldn't take the slippers in the room I had to leave them outside my door. Okay... Next he asked me if I was having a shower tonight. I told him I probably wouldn't. I would have one in the morning, He said bathrooms open at 7.30. I explained I would need a shower before then as I would be up and out early as I had to get Helen's Golden Temple shot before everyone else arrived. No I can't use bathroom before 7.30 as I might wake people up. shower now it is then! Bizarre.

Kinkakuki-MichinTemple (The Golden Temple)

I was one of the first people to arrive outside the locked gates! I met a lovely Calafornia Starla. she, like me, wanted nice pictures without tourists in and also talked as much as me (but not as much as Ceri lol!). We ended up pairing up for the whole day and she was excellent company.

The temple was every bit as beautiful as Helen and Christine told me It would be and we took loads of pictures, had a wander around and were 'done' before we knew it.

Gion & Yasakajina Shrine

I had been told to visit this area as it was the Geisha district so off we set. On arrival we spotted a huge shrine, Yasakajina and couldn't resist a peak. There was a huge Torii Gate at the entrance and lots of Chinese lanterns everywhere. Also there were lots of fortune notes being placed on bars. Unfortunately they weren't in English so we couldn't read them or leave our own, but we got the spirit of them. Lots of photos and we were off again.

Fushimi Inari Shrine & Tofukuji Temple

This time Starla had heard about the Fushimi Inari Shrine which apparently is famous for its rows of Torii gates which sounded amazing. On arrival at the bus stop we followed two girls, one from Belgium and one from Japan who said they were also going there and ended up at the Tofukji Temple. Not the shrine we were after but beautiful nevertheless. Another hundred photos and we left, finally finding the Fushimi Inari Shrine. What a sight. so many Torii's and something like 30,000 miniature shrines according to the information signs. I would find it difficult to recommend one over another between the Golden Temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine (Torii's). I truly felt lucky to have experienced both today.

SAKE

All shrines out, we started the trip back. Somehow we got a bit waylaid and accidentally ended up doing a mini Sake tasting session in a little backstreet local shop. I think the Japanese guy was as surprised as we were to find us in his shop but he was charming and we tried several different Sake's before Starla bought a bottle to go home. I would also have been tempted had I been going home :)

On arrival back in Kyoto we were both starving so decided on finding somewhere to eat. Starla fancied noodles which was fine with me and I ordered a margarita noodles which arrived with meat in it! Still delicious washed down with a local beer.

Eventually said so long to Starla who was off back to Toyko and all in all a lovely day. Nearly forgot, most importantly, Starla introduced me to cold coffee in the form of frappachinos with chocolate in - delicious. Not sure if it was a good idea, but ut I'm guessing they are a few more calories than my usual coffee!

Off to Hiroshima tomorrow, so see you there x

Posted by ClareRoach 22:48 Comments (0)

Kyoto, temples, shrines and cold coffee


View The Big One on ClareRoach's travel map.

I was in the train and realised we were at my stop for Kyoto and I hadn't noticed busy writing my blog. I had to yell wait as I frantically grabbed my stuff together. I don't think it's the done thing in Japan but I did manage to get off - extremely flustered and looking like I'd just stepped out of the shower, again! The description of how to get to my Ryakon (traditional Japanese B&B said about a 7 minute walk from the East Gate exit of the station. They were lying or else my heavy backpack turned it into about a 35/40 minute walk.

First impressions of the Ryakon were much as I had expected with the Japanese style futon on a rafia floor. I hadn't expected all the rules which were a little surprising. I was provided with Japanese style slippers and left my lovely sketchers in a pigeon hole in reception. Probably a good idea and my room will smell nicer this evening! Anyway, I'd only been in my room a minute or two when there was a tap. The guy had come to tell me I couldn't take the slippers in the room I had to leave them outside my door. Okay... Next he asked me if I was having a shower tonight. I told him I probably wouldn't. I would have one in the morning, He said bathrooms open at 7.30. I explained I would need a shower before then as I would be up and out early as I had to get Helen's Golden Temple shot before everyone else arrived. No I can't use bathroom before 7.30 as I might wake people up. shower now it is then! Bizarre.

Kinkakuki-MichinTemple (The Golden Temple)

I was one of the first people to arrive outside the locked gates! I met a lovely Calafornia Starla. she, like me, wanted nice pictures without tourists in and also talked as much as me (but not as much as Ceri lol!). We ended up pairing up for the whole day and she was excellent company.

The temple was every bit as beautiful as Helen and Christine told me It would be and we took loads of pictures, had a wander around and were 'done' before we knew it.

Gion & Yasakajina Shrine

I had been told to visit this area as it was the Geisha district so off we set. On arrival we spotted a huge shrine, Yasakajina and couldn't resist a peak. There was a huge Torii Gate at the entrance and lots of Chinese lanterns everywhere. Also there were lots of fortune notes being placed on bars. Unfortunately they weren't in English so we couldn't read them or leave our own, but we got the spirit of them. Lots of photos and we were off again.

Fushimi Inari Shrine & Tofukuji Temple

This time Starla had heard about the Fushimi Inari Shrine which apparently is famous for its rows of Torii gates which sounded amazing. On arrival at the bus stop we followed two girls, one from Belgium and one from Japan who said they were also going there and ended up at the Tofukji Temple. Not the shrine we were after but beautiful nevertheless. Another hundred photos and we left, finally finding the Fushimi Inari Shrine. What a sight. so many Torii's and something like 30,000 miniature shrines according to the information signs. I would find it difficult to recommend one over another between the Golden Temple and the Fushimi Inari Shrine (Torii's). I truly felt lucky to have experienced both today.

SAKE

All shrines out, we started the trip back. Somehow we got a bit waylaid and accidentally ended up doing a mini Sake tasting session in a little backstreet local shop. I think the Japanese guy was as surprised as we were to find us in his shop but he was charming and we tried several different Sake's before Starla bought a bottle to go home. I would also have been tempted had I been going home :)

On arrival back in Kyoto we were both starving so decided on finding somewhere to eat. Starla fancied noodles which was fine with me and I ordered a margarita noodles which arrived with meat in it! Still delicious washed down with a local beer.

Eventually said so long to Starla who was off back to Toyko and all in all a lovely day. Nearly forgot, most importantly, Starla introduced me to cold coffee in the form of frappachinos with chocolate in - delicious. Not sure if it was a good idea, but ut I'm guessing they are a few more calories than my usual coffee!

Off to Hiroshima tomorrow, so see you there x

Posted by ClareRoach 22:48 Comments (0)

Japan - Here I come


View The Big One on ClareRoach's travel map.

First impressions were good. Lots of signs translated into English and people seemingly genuinely pleased to help. There are lots of staff at the airports and stations etc. Standing ready to provide information and once you settle into things it is without doubt the easiest country to negotiate my way around that I've been in so far. That said it's really, really expensive! Each country I go to seems to be more than the last which doesn't bode well!

I loved the capsule hotel at the airport. It was really slick, spotlessly clean, ordered and did exactly what it said on the tin. Just gutted it is fully booked for the night before I fly out. I can't believe the toilets! I know I sound like every other tourist but I can't get over how pristine and complicated they are, with all sorts of functions I couldn't have dreamed up - they play music, have heated seats and numerous other functions involving squirting water! Also, all the places I've stayed so far, provide toiletries, toothbrush sets, hairbrushes etc. All in little individual packets - so cute and orderly.

SHINJUKU - Downtown Kinkakukico

I was helpfully told to stay in Shinjuku as it was where everything happened. After some internet research I found a nice hotel which proved to be functional, not too far from the station I arrived in but a bit tricky to find whilst carrying a backpack. what I hadn't realised was it was in the very centre of the red light district! Fine at day, but I would have preferred it if Jaquie was back for venturing out in the evenings.

Anyway, venture out I did because the Robot Restaurant was apparently not something to be missed and that is absolutely the case. I went with an open mind and sat excitedly waiting with my beer and my basket of (salted) popcorn. I prefer sweet but things here aren't designed to be fattening (all the Japanese are thin. I have yet to see one carrying any weight. Plus they all dress so stylishly.). The show was amazing, full of lights, movement, noise and incredible remote control costumes. Only thing missing for me was Cerys - I kept thinking how much she would have loved to see it all from the costume, stage side of things.

Food has been a bit tricky. Ive resisted the usual chains and been trying to eat. Japanese. Again, like China it's very meat based but I have discovered a couple of things I like - tempura and some of the soups. Also some things I really dislike. - tofu and can't say I'm fussed on cold rice or rice for breakfast.

On my second day here, I was wondering around the centre and discovered it had been turned into a huge street festival with lots of traditional Japanese dancing. I lost a good few hours sitting in the streets with the crowds just watching and absorbing all the noise and colour. I dipped into a restaurant, upstairs behind me for a quick orange juice, only to discover it was Loooooooooo the French company that make really nice toiletries. I ended up having a French onion soup which would have revelled any I've had in France and met a really nice couple who live in an island off The North of Japan. They even offered for me to come and stay with them. Probably cause I'd already told them, their island wasn't on my trip! Kate you would have loved the restaurant, we could definitely do with one in Cardiff :)

MOUNT FUJI & HAKONE

I decided on an excursion for this as doing it myself involved several different forms of transport and realistically an overnight stay. It was a full day, from 7:30 to 20:00 and our Guide kept us to a really strict and tight timetable. If she hadn't we wouldn't have packed so much in and although on times it did feel a bit rushed, I enjoyed it and recognise that sometimes I need chivvying up, or I can easily loose a couple of hours/days.

First stops were for amount Fuji and I think I got some good shots of this amazing volcanic mountain. In Japan they are incredibly proud of Mount Fuji, our guide entertained us with folk law stories about it and had us all sing a song about it being the number one mountain in Japan - quite bizarre!

After a typical Japanese lunch in Harkone which was beautiful and well worth a couple of days, we had a lovely river cruise followed by a cable car ride. All quite charming and a real treat of a day.

I was exhausted by the time we got back so just grabbed some food and went to bed ready for another early start today.

Managed to find my way from hotel to Tokyo to Kyoto (on a bullet train I did manage to get a photo of). Very, very nearly missed my stop writing this so have just logged back. On to upload and will fill you in on Kyoto in next update xxxx

Posted by ClareRoach 04:33 Comments (0)

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