Last week flew by quickly. We studied, planned our Spring Break trip to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo and hung out around the campus. I took part in an elementary school visit, where 10 exchange students went to Seinan’s Elementary school department and attended an English class with second graders. It was a lot of fun singing and playing language games with the kids, who seemed to really enjoy having us there. We have another visit later this week.
Our Hiroshima field trip was short, but memorable. We left Fukuoka Saturday morning, first visiting Kokura Castle in Kitakyushu. There were interesting historical artifacts like katanas and samurai armors on display, and different, fun ways of presenting how people used to live centuries ago. The castle itself was beautiful too.
Our next stop was Karato Fish Market in Shimonoseki on the main island Honshu. I was excited when our buss crossed the bridge between islands Kyushu and Honshu, since it was the first time I visited Honshu. Karato Fish Market was an amazing place. First of all, the scenery outside was amazing – mountains, the sea, bridge, ships and islands – and second, I love seafood. There were dozens of stalls in a hall selling different kinds of sushi, tempura and other seafood dishes. I got sushi from two different stalls and some shrimp tempura. They were delicious.
Our last stop before Hiroshima was Kintai-Bridge, which is a beautiful arched bridge complex. On the other side of the bridge was a small park with food stalls around it. I got some cheesecake/grapefruit yogurt ice-cream. It was delicious.
When we got to Hiroshima, it was already quite late. Our buss took a turn around the Peace Memorial Park before taking us to our hotel. After we’d taken our belongings to our hotel rooms, we headed straight to the Peace Memorial museum. Unfortunately we got there too late and it had already closed. However, we walked around the park, which has art and monuments in honor of the victims of the atomic bomb.
Walking around the park was emotional. The way all the monuments in the park honored the victims and hoped for world peace – I was speechless. In the picture above is the Pond of Peace and in the middle of it the Flame of Peace, which will burn until there are no more nuclear weapons in the world. A bit further away, closer to the A-Bomb Dome is a huge bell, one of the three Peace Bells in the park, that you can toll gently in honor of the victims and world peace. Unfortunately the Bell was locked when we got there as it was late and we couldn’t toll it.
On the other side of the bridge from the Peace Bell is the A-Bomb Dome – a building that suffered damages by the bomb, but was left to its state as one of the monuments of the park. It is a reminder of what happened. Walking past it was a powerful experience – seeing a building that was a remarkable architectural monument, in ruin. It is a formidable piece of world war history.
After we’d paid our respects, we headed out to find ourselves some well-known Hiroshima okonomiyaki, which is a kind of Japanese salty pancake with cabbage and eggs. In Hiroshima, noodles are a regular filling, whereas in Fukuoka they are an extra and only added if you choose so. I got the so-called Original Hiroshima okonomiyaki, which had cabbage, pork, shrimp, eggs, green onions and bean sprouts. It was good and I’m excited to compare it to okonomiyaki in Osaka, where we’ll be going on our Spring Break. After a day of sight-seeing we spent the evening watching quality TV and relaxing.
The next day, we left our hotel early to visit Miyajima island before returning to Fukuoka. Miyajima is known as the deer island as it is inhabited by quite tame deer that might try to eat your papers or plastic bags if they feel like it. There are also many shrines in Miyajima, the biggest one Itsukushima shrine. You need tickets to enter Itsukushima, but after you’re in you can enjoy the great views, pay respects to the Gods and buy charms and prophecies. I bought a good-luck charm and a charm that helps you with your studies and keep them with me most of the time. I also got a prophecy that revealed to be 大吉, great luck.
As I mentioned earlier, there are lot of deer on the island of Miyajima. They are used to people and may just come to you in hopes of food – though you shouldn’t feed them. Some are tame enough to pet. We ran into a certain deer while looking for something to eat after visiting Itsukushima shrine. He was standing near a food stall, just hanging around, when we bought some dango. We went a bit further away to eat our sweets when the deer came to us. He just stood there with us and when we finished eating and left the spot, he followed us. We named him Bernard and welcomed him as a part of our squad. He followed us for 5 to 6 minutes before finding someone else to hang out with.
After Miyajima, we returned to Fukuoka. The trip was very pleasant with a lot to see and experience. Exploring Honshu isn’t over yet, though. Our Spring Break begins this Friday and me and a couple of my friends will be spending it exploring Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo. I’m excited!