I went to Hiroshima on Thursday, by myself. I was pretty excited. I’ve been preparing for this trip for a solid month…at least. The plan was to take the Japan Rail slow train to either Kokura or Shin-Shimonoseki (about 15 minutes) and then catch a shinkansen bullet train to Hiroshima (about 45 minutes). In order to save money, I decided to take the shinkansen from Shin-Shimonoseki.
It was really neat. My first time on a speed train. Alas, as we were all lined up to board, I noticed that not many people were going to the last unreserved car, so I went on over…only to discover that people were smoking on it! Yuck. It took me a couple stops to realize that I was in the smoking car, so I switched to the next car and was able to breathe for the last half of the trip.
When I stepped off the train, I was so disoriented. It took me a good 10 minutes to find a map, in English. I sat in the terminal and tried to get my bearings. I felt pretty good about it, so I walked out toward the city. Not before long, though, the streets I was walking along were not matching up with the map. So, I asked a waitress a very handy question indeed, “Watashi-wa doko desuka?” (Where am I?) She didn’t know how to explain, so she pulled her boss/cook aside and he told me that I was going East when I wanted to go West. I came out of the wrong side of the train station.
I was able to make it back to the station and get on the correct side when Aki called me and said that she and Taka would meet me in front of the baseball stadium. I felt like I could get there alright…they have streetcars that go straight there from the train station. So, I got on and started hyperventilating a little bit. Now, I usually can keep my cool when I’m traveling around places, but this time, I was so discombobulated. If any of you watch LOST, you know that Desmond did a bit of time travel in his mind during this past season. One thing he discovered was that you need a constant…something that is the same in one time as well as in another. Without it, your brain will explode. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is necessary for regular travel as well. Thankfully, Taka and Aki were more than willing to oblige as my constant and after sitting down for some okonomiyaki lunch, I felt much more at ease.
We went to the Peace Park, saw the A-Bomb Dome. It is the closest building to the blast site to still be standing, so they have left it in its original condition (post bomb of course) as a reminder of the travesty of nuclear warfare. It was pretty strange being there…as an American…watching and learning firsthand the destruction brought to Japan by my own country. I still don’t know how I feel about the whole thing. I think there are very valid points on both sides. Just now, I think I have decided…yes…I have come to the conclusion that war is ugly. No one really wins in it. No sir, I don’t like it. I have another post on here, a couple blogs back, that discusses some more things indepth dealing with the war, so you should look at that if you have time and are interested.
While we were in front of the Peace Flame and Memorial Cenotaph, two Jehovah’s Witnesses came up to us and began to witness to us. It was crazy. Here we were, three Christians, in the middle of Hiroshima, being witnessed to by JW’s, while people near us were bowing down and offering flowers, money, and incense to the souls of the victims of the bomb. It was so strange, in fact, to me that I began video-taping it. I have the link below for you.
After that part of the city, the Asada’s and I parted ways. They had a baseball game to go see, and I was sufficiently buffeted with my constant (which I have concluded to not only be the Asada’s but also food in general), so I went off to explore some more parts of the city. I went to the Hiroshima Museum of Art (not planned…but there was an exhibition of Parisienne Art) and then walked toward the Hiroshima Castle. There, in front of a vending machine, I met three tourists from Amsterdam, Holland. When in the East, it’s typical for foreignors not to acknowledge other foreignors. I’m not sure why…but it’s almost an unspoken rule. I hate it. So, I spoke out that you could tell we were all foreignors because we are actually hydrating ourselves. They laughed and agreed and then the acquaintance was made. We went in the castle together discussing our different purposes for being in the country…mine being scrutinized by the one agnostic guy, praised by the one Christian guy, and disregarded by the atheistic woman. It was a really neat “coincidence” and I hope that I was able to bless their lives a little in that time we spent together in the castle.
After that I went to a coffee house and sipped some ice coffee while writing out 18…yes, 18…postcards. I had bought stamps earlier that day and planned to drop them in the mailbox by the train station before boarding the JR slow train back to Shimonoseki. I boarded the train, with a bag of McDonalds food…only because it was fast…don’t judge me. Cringed when I saw a bunch of US Marines consider getting on my train, but they decided to wait for the next one through Iwakuni. I was glad. I had 4 hours ahead of me and I didn’t really want to be grouped in with a group of young Marines for one of those. Around midnight, I got back to the Center and crashed in my bed. Enjoy the pictures below!
A Video for your enjoyment