Monday, August 20, 2012

Eating our way to, through and from Hiroshima...

It wasn't really the plan to eat and drink our way to, through and from this historic city in Japan, but that is what ended up happening, Of course, there was plenty of things to SEE as well, and I tried to capture a lot of the things I found interesting. The interesting happened the moment I shut my car door. We had just parked in a seven-story parking structure nestled between a block of department stores, paying 100 yen an hour so we had a ride from the Iwakuni train station to base. When my car door shut, there was no echo. No loud engine noises. No honking. No loud stereo with bass and speakers that cost more than the car itself. It was eerily quiet, but there were plenty of cars around. I looked up and the ceiling of each level of the structure had acoustic foam sprayed on it... the eerie silence was explained.

Please note that all of the cars are backed in to spaces. This is how people park in Japan. I have brushed up on my reverse skills. Fortunately my car is equipped with "sonar" that beeps at me. Sensors are located on all four corners of the car and I am alerted on my dashboard when I the computer deems me too close to other things. Even a sprig of weeds growing from a crack behind my car. No joke.
Eating commenced just moments after we parked. The train and bus station is less than 5 minutes from the parking structure and on the corner of the train station is a doughnut store. I walked past it, as doughnuts are a breakfast fare, in my opinion, but the men in the group had other ideas. My spouse, Rodney, and fellow Marine Ray, took an immediate detour in to the doughnut store, aptly named Mister Donut. The only other woman in the group, Yolanda, and I continued our focused mission: To purchase train tickets to Hiroshima.

Ray with his dozen doughnuts. He did share. That's Yolanda laughing and the Mister Donut is in the background. We are in the middle of the train station lobby.
The doughnut I tried looked like a frozen baby's teething toy and tasted like cinnamon and sugar.
While there are automatic ticket dispensing machines available for fast train ticket purchases, Yolanda said using the window with an actual person helping you is easier for those of us not fluent in Japanese. I followed her advice. After all, she and he husband, Josh, were the seasoned Japan travelers, I am a mere novice. The round-trip ticket cost for adults was about 1,500 yen, Will was half price and Xan was free. So, the entire train cost for my family of four was about $47.25. The train ride is about 45-50 minutes, one-way.

Two of our tickets. Since Xan was free, he had to follow closely behind is brother in the turn style so they could go through the gate at the same time. 

We took the 3:11 p.m. train, and walked over to Track 6 to meet it.
To meet the train, we had to go up stairs and across a covered foot bridge to the right track. All along the footbridge were colorful advertising posters.

Our group walking to Track 6.

One of the advertising posters. It still is a pleasant surprise to see how much of the writing is in English.

A view of the racks from the footbridge. The high-rises are apartment buildings.

One of the trains arrives on Track 7.

Yolanda, with the help of her son, Eli, demonstrates where to wait  in line for the train. Americans would be surprised by the lack of barricades, fences and barriers. There are a lot of sheer drops that individuals are responsible for keeping themselves from falling off of. 

I meant to get a picture of the open-air area where we wait for the train., It wasn't until I got home that I realized I got a woman picking her nose. Added bonus for you.

Japanese graffiti! This was carved in to my window (there are not assigned seats, you just rush to find the best seat possible once you are on the train or bus). I have no idea what it says, so if you can read it and it is an expletive, don't show it to your kids.
The inside of the train car.
Below are a few pictures of the view out my window. Most of these were taken near Otake.

This is a cemetery, with obelisk-shaped shrines for the ashes of the deceased. This is the fist wall-like one I have seen. Most of them are in small, flat lots.
After about 45 minutes of jerky, swaying train ride, we arrived at the Hiroshima Port, where all of the public transportation in Hiroshima begins and ends. Trains, bullet trains, buses, taxis... they are all here at this hub. To get to where we were going, Peace Park,we needed to take a bus. But first we had to get outside the train station and to the bus stop.
My kids, walking around in awe, with Josh herding them along. 

These goldfish were hanging all along the station. These are for the annual goldfish festival.

Greeting us as we exited the station.

The hustle and bustle to the left as we exited the station and walked about 50 yards to the bus stop.
Lots of English slogans.

The bus schedule. Fortunately, Yolanda told me to just look for the icon of the domed building and that is where we wanted to go.
Xan and Rodney on the bus. We had about 8 stops before we got to our stop at Peace Park.
I am sure it was by design, but as we got off of the bus and to a dozen steps in to Peace Park, one of the first things you come upon is this rock and tree, partially obscuring the view of the A-Bomb Dome. This park has been created as a memorial to the victims of the American A-bomb that was dropped there, as they were the first victims of a nuclear attack. The park promotes world peace and urges countries to end the manufacturing and use of nuclear weapons. The information provided is very factual, and does an excellent job of not placing blame. As Yolanda explained, there is more of a sense of "What can we learn from this and how can we prevent it from happening again?"

As you walk to the left of the rock, this is the first clear view of the A-Bomb Dome. The building as been left as it stood in the aftermath of the bombing.

Moving clockwise around the dome, if the first photo was at 1 o'clock, the second photo was at 3 o-clock, and this on is at 6 o'clock.
Taken from across the river.
Artists often come to sketch or paint the dome.
A large placard stands in front of the A-Bomb Dome. Here are each of the four sections, with the English translations:

Photo 1
Caption 1
Photo 2
Caption 2
Photo 3
Caption 3
Photo 4
Caption 4
We moved on across the bridge, where the A-Bomb Museum is. Although we did not have time to go to the museum, I am looking forward to going and learning more.

The museum is the long building in the distance. The Peace Flame can be seen in the center of the platform. The arch-shaped Cenotaph between the two carries the names of each of those who died in the blast.

Will and Xan (with Emma dashing behind) under the Children's  Peace Memorial. This is dedicated to all of the children who died in the blast and features a Japanese girl with her arms outstretched, with a paper crane above here. This is representative of the true story of a young girl who died of radiation from the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would get well. Those cases behind the memorial are full of paper cranes.

A peace sign made from paper cranes.
The memorials were very well done and there were many tourists out, despite the heat and humidity., As a matter of fact, Yolanda took a Spaniard couple's photo as we crossed back over the bridge to where the dome was located. Across the street and adjacent to the Peace Park is Hondori Street, where we spent the remainder of the evening. This is a busy outdoor mall, with just about any kind of store you can imagine, including ones you might recognize.

In case you forget where you are, this arched sign appears at every crossroad.

Entering the covered portion of the street. I would say it is about half a mile long. Perfect to rainy days!

Would any shopping center be complete without a daiso?

Electronics store, sort of like Radio Shack.
Arcades are HUGE, both in size and in popularity.

Here are a couple of places you might recognize:

This is where we ate dinner, Andersen's. It is a buffet-style place, but you pay for each item you get. They have different styles of food you can choose from, and then they cook it fresh and bring it to your table.

The numbers for my meal, Xan's meal and Will's meal.

The salad portions of my meal. I got a potato salad and a cucumber salad, with bread of course! Instead of silverware and a napkin, you get chopsticks and a textured wet wipe.

Ray's steak and potatoes from the Steak and Grill section.

My children are not very adventuresome when it comes to food. Will got onion rings and  fries from the Sandwich and Salad section.
Xan got cheese pizza from the Pizza and Pasta section.
This is my seafood dish from the Chinese section. Oddly, there wasn't a Japanese section.
This small Coke cost $4.25. Xan was appalled that there were no refills.
One of the features that night was this balloon artist in the "Where's Waldo" shirt and balloon top hat. He was very talented and each kid got a balloon figure for free!

Eli got a popular Japanese cartoon character, Anpanman.
Will got Yoshi from Mario Cart
Xan asked for and got a sword.

Emma got a bunny.
While the restaurant portion of the shop was on the second floor, the first floor had all kinds of delicious things to see and buy. And some fun things to amaze the kids.

Legos are very popular in Japan and there were Lego figurines in the lobby at Andersen's. 

The desserts were too beautiful to eat. This cake was about 8 inches in diameter and  cost  almost $52.
My mother will now be able to visit me in Japan: There are Starbucks in Hiroshima. We stopped at this one and everyone got something, The kids got hot cocoa, Rodney got a house blend ice coffee and I got the biggest black iced tea they made. With Sweet 'N Low, of course!

Will with his "short" sized cocoa.
We walked around Hondori Street for awhile longer, but then everyone wanted dessert. So dessert we got, from a cute corner sweet shop, and these eclairs were delicious! I got the one with berries.

After dessert, everyone was full and tired, so we headed back to the bus stop to take the bus to the train station, and then boarded the train bound for Iwakuni. We made it back to the garage about 5 hours after we left. We paid 500 yen to unpark our car.


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