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I spent the beginning of the weekend with a brief stop in Hiroshima to visit the A-Bomb memorial and peace park, followed by a trip to Miyajima, a scenic island just off the coast.
There's not a ton to say about Hiroshima, more than anything it was interesting to see the pacifist culture that's arisen out of the bombings. Especially that it persists to this day. Most of the museum doesn't even put the bombings in the context of the war, but rather as a standalone event presented more as a testament to the horrors of nuclear warfare. Really interesting and sobering visit. Part was under construction as it seems so many things are here (just like Europe!), so after my final taste of the fall leaves, I headed out to Miyajima.
I stayed in a small town on the mainland and took the ferry early in the morning. As I was walking in, I ran into a university professor who told me his English students were practicing by giving tours of the island. The information itself wasn't super, nor was their English, but it was a blast as a cultural experience. We sang some Backstreet Boys, shared pastries and so on. Also, five Japanese girls just for me, who knew I had such powers :-P
After, I hiked up to the mountain on the island for some views. Going on Saturday was a questionable choice as the tourists were out in full force. Deer roam the island as well, but weren't quite as dense as in Nara. It was a long walk, but I got tons of practice greeting people as every single person I passed gave a "Konnichiwa". The view from the top was absolutely awesome, tons of islands lying around and each one had dozens of oyster farms surrounding, they are big here!
The coolest thing was that I stayed long enough to see the Tori Gate at both high tide and then low tide on the way back down. The change was way larger than I expected. Most pictures you see are at high tide and it seems to float on the water, but low tide is a good 3-4 feet lower and it turns out you can literally walk out on the sand under it. Really disorienting to see that after my morning expedition.
On the train, I continue to notice rivers we cross tend to have a very large sea wall far larger than is needed for the tide. It's usually two parts, the inner/bottom part is maybe a few feet above high tide, then there's a wide area people picnic on or run through, and finally outside of that there's another 20-30 foot wall. I don't know how bad monsoon season is here, but they must really be prepared for the worst.
On the second leg of my 4-hour train trip, I sat next to a Japanese guy who was clearly interested in my Samurai Champloo screening session. It took 4 years, but I finally got that headphone splitter purchase to pay off. I brought the movies, he bought us some Prangle-like chips and much fun was had. He even showed me some Judo videos. Language barriers be damned! Remember kids, always carry a headphone splitter, you never know when the moment will strike!
Hotels here on out for me, so things should be winding down in Japan!