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Nick's Japan Journal

by Nick

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Welcome to the blog of my trip to Japan back in August.

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Oh dear oh deer! Arriving in Miyajima.

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An half hour trip on the train from Hiroshima takes you to Miyajimaguchi which is where the ferry leaves for Miyajima.

After only a short crossing I arrive in the ferry terminal to be greeted by the fellows pictured here.

These deer are everywhere and not a bit shy, as you can see. Throughout the day they could be seen snatching food and paper and anything they could get hold of from unsuspecting tourists!
24th Aug 2006, 13:27   | tags:,,comments (12)

It's a turtle!

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Oh, I know it's a bit daft, but today has been so serious and there were
loads of these little guys swimming around in the moat around the castle and
they were so cute, I just had to post a pic of one :-)
23rd Aug 2006, 13:13   | tags:,,comments (7)

Hiroshima Castle

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Hiroshima Castle dates from 1589, but sadly, along with most other things in the city, was totally destroyed in the events of 1945.

However, as you can see it has been reconstructed and now houses Samurai cultural artifacts and a museum on the history of the castle.
23rd Aug 2006, 13:05   | tags:,comments (0)

Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja shrine

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Yeah, I know, it's another shrine! Sorry. I've got another one coming up tomorrow as well hopefully.

This shrine was within the walls of Hiroshima castle.

I took a picture of the water and the ladles as it is customary to wash your hands by pouring water from the ladle onto your left hand with your right and then vice versa. It apparently cleanses you before entering the temple or shrine.
23rd Aug 2006, 12:53   | tags:,,comments (3)

A-bomb Dome

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Now known as the A-bomb Dome, this was originaly the "Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall."

It was one of the few buildings to (partially) survive the blast and despite attemps to have it demolished over the years it has been structurally reinforced and remains as another monument to the victims of the A-bomb.

The picture below is a photo I took of a picture on diplay there showing what the building used to look like. Apparently, the roof of the dome was made of copper, but this would have melted instantly.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park

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Well, I guess everyone who visits Hiroshima must come here: this morning I went to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum.

The museum tells the story of the city from it's founding to the present day.

The famous part of the city's history is of course the day "Little Boy" the atomic bomb droped on Hiroshima from the U.S. bomber "Enola Gay". That was August 6 1945.

It detonated 600m above the ground and immediately destroyed most of the city and some 80,000 people, although the total deathtoll is estimated at around 140,000 taking into account those that didn't die instantly.

The history is given in a very balanced and matter-of-fact way and there are lots of artefacts that were recoverd from the city after the bombing including burnt clothing and melted and shattered bits of buildings.

Every time a nuclear test is conducted in the world, the mayor of Hiroshima writes a letter of protest to that country. A whole wall is filled with copies of these letters and I am suprised to say that some are to the UK (I counted three in the eighties being the most recent).

The top picture is of the Peace Memorial (cenotaph) itself and in the background at the other end of the large pool (you can't really see it too well) is the "Flame of Peace" which will be extinguised once the last nuclear weapon on earth is destroyed.

The second picture is of the Children's Peace monument and depicts a young girl holding up a origami crane.

The story behind this is that of 12 year old Sasaki Sadako who became ill with leukaemia after the A-bomb. She had heard that she might be cured if she folded 1000 origami cranes. Sadly her wish never came true and after she died her classmates continued to fold paper cranes in her honour and so inspired the monument.

I's not pictured, but around the monument are glass cases with thousands of colourful garlands and collages made out of paper cranes brought here by children from all over Japan.

The Gates of Peace

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Apparently only built last year these are the Gates of Peace.

They are inscribed with the word for "peace" in 49 different languages.
23rd Aug 2006, 11:59   | tags:,comments (2)

Okonomiyaki

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Tonight I went in search of Hiroshima's legendary "Okonomiyaki".

Apparently it is quite different to okonomiyaki prepared elsewhere in Japan.

As you can see, the whole counter top is a huge hotplate and they prepare and cook it in front of you.

On one side is a pancake, the other is like an omlette and sandwiched in between is (in my case) bacon, cabbage, onion, bean shoots, noodles and sauce. You can have other stuff in it though.

When they have finished cooking it, they slide it over so it's right in front of you. You have a wedge shapped cutter, a dish and chopsticks and serve yourself, one pizza-like slice at a time. Good fun!

They were very friendly here. The chef that cooked mine offered to take my picture after seeing me snap a quick shot of my meal.

There are so many Okonomiyaki restaurants in this particular area of the city it has been given a name: Okonomimura!
22nd Aug 2006, 14:08   | tags:,,comments (7)