Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Coming from a country town like Saijo and stepping into Hiroshima was quite an adjustment. It's no Tokyo, to be sure, but still the 10th largest city in Japan with about two million people. My first indication was the architecture; a nice silver fountain in front of the JR to greet me as I would cross the bridge into downtown. Second, the pachinko parlors are pretty much the same. Makes me wish I liked to play the slots; I might actually make some money. Third; the diversity, well, as much diversity as you'd expect in Japan. I actually saw more than twenty foreigners in Hiroshima, which wasn't the average day for me.
So let's run it down.
First stop - the Peace Park.
The site of the original atomic bomb explosion on August 6th, 1945. Sixty years, eleven months, and four days have passed. (8:15 AM local time). I had my share of writing about dramatic events when I visited ground zero in New York. I won't pretend to know all the facts. I'll just leave you with what I did, and let the feelings come to you as they may. Depressed, pensive, insightful, loathing, whatever...
One thing that did catch my eye in the dome was the lack of graffitti and the original rubble. It was quite obvious that not even punk teenagers would dare deface a historical witness like this one. The rubble, complete with brick, tile, and stone, was still scattered for meters around the dome.
Remains of Hiroshima Castle (I think this is a quality picture, would have liked better light, though).
Let's move on, shall we? From the Castle, I went over to one of the main shopping areas next to the country's largest Deo-Deo, Sogo. Sogo has ten floors, mainly for women's clothing, but it is complete with a full shopping center, restaurants, and home-furnishings. Most department stores like Fuji Grand and You Me Town are like that. Only spent a short time here, and still need to buy my grandfather a 90th birthday gift.
Picked up some Dr. Pepper from the Jupiter import store - nice. 103 yen each, cheaper than vending machines. I don't understand that... I am such a glutton.
Subway. I wasn't going to go in after that full dinner of Tonkatsu (my first real meal without resorting to any English, yeah!), but I tell you, turkey has a way of reeling me in. And I had been walking around the outdoor shopping area for like two hours, so there's got to be room for a sandwich and a cookie. Back to my old routine. Six inch turkey ham on whole wheat with swiss cheese, spinach, and spicy mustard with two chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven and a Dr. Pepper for $5.62. Whereas in Japan it would be one fifteen cm turkey on wheat with cheddar cheese, lettuce, masta-do, with one chocolate chip cookie for about 490 yen. Not too bad.
Shack and Mac. Shack I recommend. Nice atmosphere, place to play pool, play darts, good bar area to talk to girls, and decent tables for the restaurant (may have to try the Mexican fajitas). Ran into a nice English speaking guy named Yama who bought me an Asahi beer. Will have to meet him next weekend to find some girls at Ultra. Mac isn't my kind of place. Nice gaijin-friendly environment, but it's smaller, less sociable. They do have more music, however. A lot more. I still have more exploring to do when I go back to hang out on Saturday. The life of a gaijin is always interesting. I'm certainly a lot more preoccupied now than back home. The news this week- will try to get a Jitsuin, my legal stamp in Kanji characters. I hope they spell something daring...