Thursday, November 30, 2006

An update at last

I've been wanting to blog for a while, but haven't really been able to (easily) get my laptop connected to the internet lately. Resultantly there is a fair bit of stuff for those of you who want to read it. But first, some random photos for those of you who don't want to read much.

Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima

Itsukushima Shrine (Floating Torii), Miyajima

Christmas Lights on Heiwa-doori, Hiroshima

Universal Studios Japan, Osaka

The bigest christmas tree in Japan (Apparently)

More Christmas decorations, Osaka

And for those of you who need your daily dose of my ramblings, enjoy.

26.11.06 1.50pm
This is another shinkansen blog. I just left Hiroshima and am now heading for Kobe. Hiroshima was quite an interesting little town which would probably throw up a lot of cool little places if I had a little more time there. Funnily, the city is perhaps the most Melbourne-like Japanese city I’ve come across so far. There’s a couple of rivers running through it which feel a bit like the Yarra; there’s trams; and the place isn’t as busy and bustling as the bigger cities like Tokyo/Osaka.

Probably the most interesting thing for me was taking a number of strolls through the Peace Park which contains 原爆ドーム (the atomic bomb dome). The dome was pretty much directly below the epicenter of the blast when the a-bomb exploded over Hiroshima back in August 1945 – and probably as a result was virtually the only thing left standing in the immediate vicinity (I think the shockwaves radiating outwards tended to cause more destruction than the shockwaves radiating vertically down). It is now a World Heritage site – more for what it represents than its physical appearance, but even so, the skeletal ruin that is the dome is sadly beautiful in its own way.

I also managed to make a trip to 宮島 (Miyajima) which is where the ‘floating’ shrine is. There are probably some very nice hiking trails up the mountains there, but the actual shrine and surrounding town is unfortunately little more than a massive tourist magnet. Meaning the place just reeks of gimmicky souvenir shops. But I still enjoyed just walking around in a place that wasn’t full of cars and salary men.

The hostel I stayed at (J-Hoppers Hiroshima) deserves a little paragraph of its own too. I booked it because it was run by the same people as a hostel I enjoyed staying at in Kyoto. When I arrived, it turned out that it had only just opened less than a month ago, meaning everything was in pristine condition. It was probably more comfortable than some of the business hotels I’ve stayed in here in Japan. But the best thing about it was the people. The owners are awesome (and remembered me from when I stayed with them in Kyoto ahha) and I met another Aussie from Cairns (Gary) and an American from North Carolina (Matt) on my first night there. The three of us somehow got along pretty well and we spent quite a lot of time hanging out in the lounge – as well as wandering around the city together (not to mention eating okonomiyaki). Somehow, Gary and Matt reminded me of my exchange buddies Ben and Aaron respectively. And, walking around with the two of them, I went back to being mistaken for the Japanese friend/tour guide everywhere we went, which really made it feel just like my exchange days haha.

[Ben: if you read this, Gary really had a thing for おでん at the time so we were constantly stopping at convenience stores which reminded me so much of you – but don’t worry, you’re still the 本物 haha]

Anyway, if I ever go back to Hiroshima I will definitely try to stay there again.

26.11.06 8.55pm
Finally here at the hostel in Kobe. Not quite as fun (so far) as J-Hoppers but nice nonetheless. It’s got a very homely feel here. We’re all sort of sitting in the lounge/common room watching TV/eating/reading at the moment.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do with myself in the next couple of days. Perhaps I’ll just sleep in and wander around the city for the day tomorrow and hope that Yoko has some interesting places to take me after I meet her haha. It sounds like the JR station is quite a walk from here, so at least that will take up some of the time – although the weather has turned bad lately so I’m not sure if I’ll really feel like walking.

Speaking of which, today when I went to Hiroshima station with Gary (we were both leaving Hiroshima at the same time), it really started pouring. And we had decided to walk to the station. It’s been a while since I got that soaked haha. Maybe I should have invested 150 yen into that tram ticket after all – but I suppose we both dried quickly enough and it was kind of funny to be dripping wet while you walk past all the Japanese people carrying umbrellas (who looked at me like they’re wondering what sort of weird Japanese person I am).

29.11.06 8.26am
It’s already Wednesday and it feels like I just arrived in Kobe. I’ve been heading into Osaka the last couple of nights so I’ve hardly seen Kobe at all. Takako and Yoko took me to a nice izakaya on Monday night which had a very traditional Japan feel. And was extremely cheap (I think it ended up being less than $15 a head). We just wandered around the north end of Osaka for a while afterwards until it was time to head home.

Yesterday we went to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) which was unexpectedly good. Some of the rides/shows were a little bit tacky, but there were plenty of other things to see (including Japan’s biggest Christmas tree).

I got a call from Sayaka yesterday too, which reminded me how much I want to go back to Tokyo and see everybody there. But it’s weird because at the same time I want to spend a little bit more time to catch up with people down here in Kansai too. If only there was more time…


Clare said...

Hey! this intensive blogging reminds me of you being away on exchange!! How time flies! If only you are coming to visit me again in HK!!! tat would be sweet!!

enjoy your time :) and see you real soon back in Melb!!!

Mel said...

Wow you've taken some awesome pics age. Keep up the good work! hehe

Keep the posts coming btw; i'm enjoying hearing what you've been up to.

How cool was it that you met Gary and Matt?!

Take care,