Local hike

Today was a pretty great day!  I got back last night and felt like relaxing today.  I had a small urge to go into work and see what emails transpired on Friday in regards to my housing debacle.  But I squelched that urge and decided to stay away from work.  Then I was super lazy and decided I had to get out of the house.  I decided to go for a run/hike.  I ran to the hiking trail in Zushi that is opposite the Jimmuji train station.  I was a little lost and ran for about 40 minutes (it’s really not that far).

I went on the hike.  I would have run but my knee has been a little twinge-y since I hyper-extended it a few weeks ago so I played it safe.  I came upon a pretty awesome shrine but didn’t find the rock climbing wall that is pretty popular.  Next time, next time.

Above, I included some photos including a sign stating that the area is a Wildlife Preserve.  Apparently, Seamus Squirrel’s Japanese cousins are well-liked around here.  Gross.

Okonomiyaki

One of the foods that the Hiroshima Prefecture is known for is Okonomiyaki.  It is amazing.  There is a thin wafer/tortilla of flour and water, tons of cabbage and sprouts, pork, egg and the most amazingly delicious, addictive sauce ever.  I had one at Miyajima and one in Hiroshima proper.  I’m fairly certain that both places were the ones that Mom and I went to in 2008.  It was so tasty and awesome!  Whoever visits, even if we don’t make it down to hiroshima, I will find a okonomiyaki place locally just so you can try it!

Hiroshima


We arrived in Hiroshima and walked along the Peace Promenade and went to Atomic Peace Park.  I went twice in two days: once on Friday afternoon and once on Saturday morning before leaving.  I skipped the museum this time but the park itself is very solemn and hopeful at the same time.  There are many memorials and signs with multiple translations.  

 I just finished “Unbroken” and they talk about riding through that countryside and witnessing the destruction.  That first, the trees had no leaves, then there were no trees and then there was nothing.  It was horrific but at the same time, the reason why the POWs were free, rather than dead.  The Japanese knew they were losing the war and had issued an “All-Kill order” for all POWs later that August.

  
It’s amazing how the city rebuilt.  And now the hope is that no city or place on earth has to go through that destruction again.  One new sight I saw this time was the marker that indicates the hypocenter, the location where the bomb exploded, 600 m above the ground.  It’s outside the park on a street that is otherwise completely modernized and contains several parking structures.  

On Saturday, as I was walking to the Peace Park, I took a different route and it was completely jarring to me that all of a sudden, there was the “A-bomb dome.”  It was a striking reminder that it can be so easy to be involved in our daily lives and forget to pay homage and witness to the past.

Sasebo

Next up…Sasebo!  The clinic went well although there were fewer patients then Iwakuni.  Sasebo is a beautiful place with rolling green hills that meet the water and gorgeous sunsets.  The base is pretty small.  We had a mini-adventure getting there since I thought Nagasaki and Sasebo were on the same train line.  They’re not!  

Also, I am confused about the Shinkansen to JR transfer.  When we arrived at Hakata, we were able to transfer directly to the JR limited express without any other ticket.  But then on the train, the conductor wanted our JR tickets, which we didn’t have.  Eventually, we worked out that we would pay when we arrived at the station but there has to be some way to pay for JR tickets at the beginning.  Currently, it’s an awkward experience that I’d like to avoid.  Also, a side note to this experience- always have extra money on me in Japan.  Yikes!  The transfer station did not have ANY foreign ATMs.  The main tourist/international ATMs are at the 7-11 and when there’s no 7-11, well…it’s no bueno.  Fortunately, I didn’t need the money since we got picked up by the duty driver but it was still pretty stressful.

So, in Sasebo, I went out with a former medical school classmate who’s a GP right now.  He and his friend Edgar took me out to the most delicious yakitori place, followed by a karaoke bar where they had bottle service.  The bottle service concept confused me at first.  I thought, “Wait, we’re about to spend $250 on a bottle in a random bar on a Thursday night?”  No, thank goodness!  They frequent this bar and they buy a bottle of alcohol at wholesale cost.  Then, each time they go, they pay a flat fee of 800Y and they can drink as much as they want from their bottle.  We stayed out until midnight, which was later than I was expecting but a lot of fun.  To finish off the evening, we went to “Ra-ra ramen,” which was so good!  I can’t wait to take SMS and see if he thinks it’s better than his L.A. spot!  Then I took a cab back to the hotel while Edgar and Scott walked back to their apartments off-base.
The next morning, I was sleepy but I had one patient and then we were off.  The corpsman and I went off to Hiroshima for the evening before heading back on Saturday.

Miyajima and Itsukushima


In between Sasebo and Iwakuni, we stopped at Miyajima for the afternoon.  We had several strokes of luck.  First, there were two ferries to choose from and we bought the tickets for the JR ferry.  This was awesome because the JR ferry has the sea lane that actually makes a wide swing right in front of the floating tori.  It was an awesome vantage point!  Also, it was high-tide so the tori looked particularly magnificent.  Last time I was there, it was low tide and the pilings were visible, which was a little less cool looking. 


The shrine was established in the time of Empress Suiko.  It is one of the famous “Three views of Japan (日本三景 Nihon Sankei).”  These were set forth by Hayashi Gaho in 1643 and include the pine-clad islands of Matushima in Miyagi Prefecture; the pine-clad sandbar of Amanohashidate in Kyoto Prefecture; and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima Prefecture. 
Disgustingly, the deer is drinking from the water fountain.  Just like this sign, I bet it would try and eat my
face if I got close enough!

There were also deer on the island.  I called them “rats with long legs.”  As my Dad says, he and Mom really raised a bunch of animal lovers.  The corpsman thought they were super-cute and took lots of pictures.


There was also a Shinto ceremony happening.  It seemed solemn and may have been a funeral. The women were wearing some beautiful kimonos and some elaborate headpieces.  But right outside the recessed area of the shrine were swarms of people watching and/or taking pictures.  As cool as it would have been to take a picture, something just didn’t seem right so I refrained.  I did continue my taking pictures of me behind the photo-op boards with face-holes cut out.  I think they’re so funny!