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Japan November 2015 - Tokyo - Nagoya - Hiroshima - Shimonoseki - Fukuoka - Page 6

Day 16 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Rainy bomb day

As predicted, its raining. At times it was raining just enough to justify an umbrella, which I didnt have, but mostly it was raining enough for me to hold my hand out to ensure it was actually raining.
What this meant for me was, no mountain, instead time to hang around the city and have a look at things that got blown up, and things that got rebuilt after being blown up.

This was almost all under recontruction, including the museum, which is under construction until 2018.
The castle is not under reconstruction, its just been finished, apparently for the 3rd time since it was rebuilt in about 1950. They just dont make castles like they used to.

As one might expect, the hordes of tourists were everywhere around the peace park, museum and dome. There were foreign and domestic tourists, lots of school children.
The school kids had clip boards that were ingenious, a strap around your neck, and the bottom of it clips to your school uniform, so you could write on it without holding it with your hands.
The foreign groups were probably here for only the day, so do or die, they were doing everything, to a schedule, before racing off to see whatevers next on their packed itinerary.
I have the luxury of another 3 days here before going to the next place, hopefully it stops raining so I can go to some places out of town and walk around a lot and take pointless photos.

The whole checking out things that got bombed didnt take very long, so I wandered around town for a while to find lunch, then retreated to my hotel, perfect day to do washing, but no, Sunroute plaza has no washing machines.

The museum, is only half open, and the other half will close soon when the closed half reopens. It is in dire need of being updated, I dont think its been improved since it first opened in the 1950's. Many of the exhibits look old and tired.

Pointless new entrance area.

The diorama was cool, but didnt really explain much.

The actual bomb is quite a lot smaller than I seem to recall. I always thought it was as big as a small plane.

A sea of schoolkids. They mostly were quiet, but the big menace was a teacher making kids pose and look sad whilst he took photos, presumably for the school paper.
He was rearranging their uniform and telling them how to pose and what expressions to have on their faces, in front of big photos of naked burnt corpses.

The peace park, is basically a big puddle today.

The childrens monument. One thing I learnt, is that as many as a quarter of the people killed were Korean slaves. Hiroshima had been at least partially evacuated due to ongoing bombing of the conventional kind. Left behind were soldiers, and workers in factories, many of whom were Korean.
Presumably, many comfort women as well. Scandal reignited.

I got to ring the bell.

Nearby is the only building that remained standing, or so the legend goes. I think the real story is they demolished a lot of stuff really quickly, but left this place as a symbolic shell.

Place looks like a bomb hit it.

Nearby is the reconstructed Hiroshima castle. This isnt it. I assumed this is the entry, but its not. The entry is around the corner and along a muddy path.
Instead, this is some kind of shrine where foreigners wandering around are told to leave.

The castle. Parts of it look like its made out of old pallets.

Inside, and its tourist shops to buy a t-shirt. Actually the upper levels are a kinds of museum, mainly swords. Strangely, includes a sword made in 1980.
They have guards everywhere enforcing the no photo rule.

The view was not bad, even though its rainy.

Hiroshima like all Japanese cities has some kind of tower no one uses anymore.

And then because last night was curry and chocolate coated chips night, I opted for a healthy lunch from the fantastic Andersens bakery. The serving of minestrone was small, but delicious, but the real highlight was the two kinds of bread, both genuinely fresh out of the oven.

Get wet to go somewhere dry

Now its really raining. Raining enough so that I stood out the front of the hotel pondering what to do.
After a google session, I found the local massive Aeon mall, and decided to go there. Because its indoors.
The first part of the journey, was to get to the tram, which was a sprint through puddles, my goretex boots kept my feet completely dry, but the rest of me was wet due to cars driving past in the gutter splashing me. Oh well.
Now that I was wet, I got off at the main station, and decided to walk the rest of the way, it didnt look too far, turns out it was about an hour.
I went under the station, and clearly was now on the wrong side of the tracks, because there was not a lot there, just a lot of puddles and cars trying to splash me more.

Getting wet turned out to be no problem, the inside of the mall was at least 30 degrees. I was dry within seconds.

After dinner, I repeated the journey, now with a lot less rain, but still drizzle, and getting under the tracks in a random location was my reward for an extra 15,000 steps this evening.

Taking photos of rain never really works.

On the wrong side of the tracks, I was able to appreciate that a whitegoods store just leaves their product un guarded on the street all night.

Star Wars hysteria is peaking. Enjoy your Star Wars Xmas.

This Aeon mall, apparently the biggest x in y, has a great dining area / food court hybrid. Smarter than your normal food court.

I had mapo tofu, cause Chinese food in Japan is everywhere now, so long as you want mapo tofu, xiao long bao or the black sticky noodles they call Chinese food in Korea.
It was actually good though, came in a volcanically heated pot, just like in Chengdu where they invented it.

Not a lot to photograph tonight due to the rain, so heres the mall from the outside as I departed. It used to be a huge Kirin beer factory. Then it was called diamond city mall, but now Aeon bought it. They own everything.

The highlight of my evening was this tunnel under the tracks. It went for hundreds of metres, and my head was very very close to the roof.
Pipes went everywhere, and water ran in channels down both sides of the floor. It was like being in a computer game. I expected zombies to come running at me.

Last photo this evening, this is a huge crossing and trains come every few seconds, yet pedestrians charge across in between the barriers coming down.
This all seemed a bit ridiculous, a little old lady would have no chance to make it over.
Your only other option is the zombie tunnel 500 metres up the road.

mother on 2015-11-17 said:
I used to go through that tunnel at least once a week to a school on the other side of the tracks. It hasn't changed. The Aeon Mall is new though

mother on 2015-11-17 said:
Andersons' is still there! Atomic bomb dome was the only concrete building in the area, all the rest were wooden houses and a lot had been cleared by school kids to make fire breaks.

Day 17 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015


Now its really really raining. Enough for the streets to be flooded. At least flooded to the point they would be considered flooded in Adelaide, probably not Japanese flood level.
Bravely, or much more correctly, foolishly, I decided to go to Iwakuni anyway, to see a bridge and a castle, because thats what you do in Japan.
Super foolishly, I decided to walk from Iwakuni station to the main area of tourism interest, in the pouring rain, despite there being nuerous buses available. How else would I get to see Iwakuni?

To say I got wet would be an understatement, my jacket was soaked through and I was quite concerned my camera would break, my phone is waterproof, so that would be ok.
Eventually, I was wet enough that it no longer mattered, so I stupidly decided to walk up the big hill to the castle, along unmarked paths, is this where I slipped over? Of course not.

Despite the path I took up to the castle being dark, in cloud, with water running down the mud, I remained upright here. However I later took a hilarious spill down a wooden ramp in the castle car park.
Luckily there was absolutely no one around to see me. My knee now hurts, but I think its just bruised cause it hurts no more or less when bending it or walking on it.

I quite enjoyed taking photos of clouds on the ground.

When I left Hiroshima, I had convinced myself that by the time I got off the train at Iwakuni the weather would be clearing. So very wrong.

The main street here has nice covered footpaths so you dont have to get wet. So I stood out in the middle of the road in the now DRIVING rain to take a photo of the dry areas.

I thought I would stop for a coffee somewhere and see if the weather got any better, however I think everything is shut due to rain. Is that possible?

Iwakuni is also a U.S. air force base. So theres streets full of places welcoming Americans with underage Japanese schoolgirls.

I dont think too many tourists walk from the main station to the tourist area, it was full of rubbish.

Eventually I re found the right area, I climbed up an overpass in the rain to check I was on the right path. The extremely detailed tree manicuring along the street told me this was the way.

And heres the bridge. Its been reconstruted recently. Originally it was all wood but kept washing away. Also in the times before tourism, only Samurai could cross. Now you can pay $4 to walk over it. I didnt.

You can just see the castle on the top of the hill behind the bridge.

Instead of paying to walk over, I walked a couple of hundred metres upstream to the next bridge which had no fee to cross. Captain tightarse reporting for duty.

The samurai compound has many nice trees and gardens.

There is a cable car to the top, but no, I was too proud to use it. Instead I had to look around for a path of some description to walk up in the flood.
Eventually I found one behind this temple.

In the rain, the path was quite challenging despite not being very far.

The cloud made for an interesting experience.

Redundant photo from the only clearing on the way up.

And heres Japan standard castle recreation version 9.3d.
This particular one was built in the 1950's and is based on an original that only stood nearby for 7 years.
The samurai were banished to this part of Japan, but were not allowed to have castles. They built one anyway, but the emperor made them destroy it.

I had to wake up the guy selling tickets, I had the whole place to myself. So no one was going to stop me taking photos today. Actually they allow photos in this castle. There were many swords.

View back down to the bridge.

A castle to myself is an opportunity to take one of my signature photos.

Really raining hard now. If you look to the right of the bridge (I have zoomed in), you can see all the cars and buses and whatever parked in the river. They were brave doing this on a day like today I thought.

Time for one last photo of an impressive garden before I put my camera away and jogged / swam back to the station.

Mystery fair and bad pho

It might sound like the record is broken, but its still raining.
Because of ongoing rain, I had to go back to the local covered shopping area.
First I had to do one of the bravest things ever, and put my still wet clothes back on. I have very few clean clothes left due to lack of washing machines in this hotel, and since I would be wandering around in the rain again I saw no point in getting everything I own saturated.

So I wandered back to the main street, and low and behold, its all packed out and theres some sort of religious festival where you have to eat things on sticks and buy plastic flowers on sticks.
There were quite litreally hundreds of temporary covered stalls, most selling food, but also various fun fair games, and a lot of stalls selling the plastic tributes to some kind of god things on sticks, just like I saw in Asakusa a couple of weeks back.
I still dont know what was going on, there was a panel of important men and people lined up to throw money into a big wine barrel, so its the important man make me buy plastic on stick and throw money in barrel fair.

We have a few places in Adelaide with the capsule machines where you put money in and get a prize, normally a Pokemon. Japan you can get a whole cactus garden.

Or a family of owls.

At first I thought these were the only stalls set up, I thought their location was very weird. Look at the people scurrying out of the rain, whilst under umbrellas.

But then I noticed both sides of every street for many blocks had similar things set up, on a Wednesday night.

This seems to be the centre of the attractions.

And heres the guys in blue jackets whos job is to glare at you until you put money in the barrel.

And now, my first actual bad meal. It wasnt bad as in I might be posioned, but it was a place that was quite fancy, and claimed to be authentic Vietnamese food.
Last nights Mapo Tofu was pretty good, so I rolled the dice once more.
This time, I got something absolutely flavourless, I am certain they just put hot water on some rice noodles, and added one piece of beef and some lettuce. There was no flavour to the broth at all, and the herbs you expect to get with pho were absent.
To top it off, one sliver of beef, and no sauces of any kind to add. Do not recommend.
I have had good pho in Shanghai and Seoul, so Japan has failed.

adriana on 2015-11-18 said:
Ask your hotel where the nearest coin laundry is to do your washing. They usually have one nearby. Where was the festival? I don't remember any in Hiroshima at this time of year. Was it a local shrine one?

mother on 2015-11-18 said:
Nice to see the castle close up. We have never made it yet as the last time we were there, we got stuck in a train for 5 hours waiting for a typhoon to pass.

Day 18 - Thursday, 19 November 2015

Raining tourists

It has stopped raining from the sky! Instead I went to Miyajima where it was raining tourists by the boat load.
I took a lot of photos whilst there, so will talk about Miyajima itself with the photos, but before then, my observations...

There are 3 kinds of tourists in Japan. First of all there is the huge European tour group, seniors normally from Germany, sometimes France. They all have huge brightly colored jackets, and can be seen negotiating some kind of discount wherever they go, holding everyone up. These are the most annoying.
Next up, is the mother daughter team, usually from the USA or Australia. I have seen countless combos of mother daughter at the big tourist attractions. The daughter is normally complaining that its too far to walk. But where are the fathers and sons? Back home working is my guess to pay for the mother and daughter.
And finally, the gay couple. One will be fat and have a beard, stereotypes exist for a reason. These couples can come from anywhere, I have seen French, USA, Australian and one couple explaining that they are not American, they are Canadian. They can frequently be seen in the fake antique shops near tourist attractions discussing how that piece would be perfect in some kind of room they have back home.

My next observation for the day is another hilarious TV shopping show for beauty products. This time its for face cream to get rid of wrinkles. A bunch of middle aged women pose for an art class, and the students draw their faces, with many wrinkle lines.
They then use the cream for however long, and return to the same art class to be drawn again. Then in front of the live studio audience they compare drawings pre and post face cream, to the screaming excitement of the crowd who then throw money at the man selling the cream.

I better talk about the photos now.

The train to the Miyajima station takes 45 minutes. Then you go on a ferry to the island, or so I thought. I saw this sign and got really excited.
Alas, it was only a tunnel to the other side of the road. Oh well, ferry time.

The ferry can also take cars, but there were none today.

I was appreciating the blue sky, a lot.

So I took another sky photo.

Everyone raced to the edge of the ferry to photograph the gate thing you can just see here. We nearly flipped.

I went to keep an eye on the motors.

As soon as I left the ferry terminal, my nemesis was waiting for me.

Heres one of the top x scenic spots in all Japan! Top x because these lists are bullshit.
The tide was out, it only becomes a scenic spot when its surrounded by the ocean, so maybe later. This has been rebuilt 8 times, and was last rebuilt sometime last month.

Mass tai chi was observing the gate in the ocean.

Theres nothing left in the world Obama hasnt liked at some point.

Theres a lot of temples and such to pay entry for, or not.

I started my climb, a looping course, its not particularly far or steep. It had some deep puddles though, people in regular shoes were very annoyed.
Today was a day where I actually saw a few other people on the trail.

Its mostly trees and no view until you get to the top.

With the occasional temple of course.

A sure sign I was about to be at the top, some boulders and a tunnel.

The actual peak is quite far from the cable car, but they have erected a viewing platform with toilets underneath.
I never actually saw the cable car, but I saw people walking to the cable car station doubled over clutching their chests. Its 100 steps and theres signs telling you of your progress to get to the bottom station.
The amount of complaining was pretty hilarious, some people now cant even make it up a few stairs to get on a machine to haul their lazy ass up the mountain.

This deer still has his horns. I could have been killed.

Not a bad view.

I took a lot of view photos, but have spared the world from scrolling to get past them.

Deadly snake warning! I have been wandering around the mountains not even on trails with gay abandon.

The way down was much much more developed than the way up, it was a concrete path the whole way, and the occasional dam.

Nearly back down now, and I can see the tide has come in to surround the gate.

There are still more temples to pay to look at, or climb around to photograph without paying.

Both the path up and down pretty much follow a stream of waterfalls the whole way. Plenty of water today due to 3 days straight of rain.

Once back down, I had the famous maple leaf snack, filled with red bean. Two varieties, red bean with skin, red bean without skin. I couldnt tell the difference.
These are hand made by an automated machine. Basically, its an obun. There are over 100 shops with a machine making them for the hordes of tourists.

You can also pay to walk along this thing which is apparently spiritually rewarding when the tides come in fully. But its under construction as you can see.

I think the idea with this is to capture the reflection in very still ocean.

Instead I captured the deer, being intimidated by a pigeon.

There is an extensive tourist shopping area to buy chopsticks and glass jewelry and food on sticks.

Or you can observe another giant wooden spoon. Didnt I see one in Nagoya too? Theres a box accepting donations for this one.

I got to wander

Tonight was actually the first night I got to go for a proper wander around Hiroshima without getting wet. Its also my last night here.
Tomorrow I go to the unheard of Shimonoseki. The reason I am going there is because there was literally no accommodation in any main city for the Friday and Saturday night due to peak leaf hysteria season.
Anyway, its on the very bottom of the main island of Honshu, just across from Kyushu. I thought when I booked it would be a small fishing town, but it has a population of a quarter of a million, and walking distance under the ocean is another half a million at Kitahyushu.
Anyway, enough about tomorrow.

My wander around Hiroshima was great. As you can see below, they take xmas very seriously. My path was a looping course around all the areas I had been to before, through what I would guess is the red light district, across some bridges where I stopped to look at the darkness, and then I eventually ended up at the main station to buy my ticket for tomorrow.
I like to buy my ticket the day before, to eliminate waiting for hours, or having to find alternative transport on the day with my luggage in tow.

Along the way I was nearly killed by cyclists coming from every diretion, wrong side of the road, wrong way up a one way street, darting out of buildings. Most of them had babies on the back.
I also noticed a lot of smoking cafes and restaurants, even in department stores. I wonder if this differs from Tokyo where I cant really remember there being any left.
My last fun activity of the evening was to watch a bunch of tourists try and get directions from the tram conductor, before boarding the tram, thus holding up everyone already on the tram.
I blame google for this nonsense, because everyone now tries to use google translate, rather than just waving hands and speaking in English, which 99 times out of 100 does the trick. Google is making the world a dumber place.

These xmas lights go down every main street, miles and miles of it, causing traffic chaos.

There was an accident and I am sure the lights caused it, they were only turned on for the first time last night, probably to coincide with that festival which is still going tonight.

This was meant to be the last photo of the lights....

However I presume this is for Game of Thrones xmas.

This cat attacked me with a balloon as I crossed the road.

Then I got pissed on by a bear.

I officially declare Fukuyama to be the biggest department store in Hiroshima. It is much bigger than Asse across the road. The place really is called Asse.

Asse does however have a huge number of restaurants, including this okonomyaki floor.

I bypassed it and went to the other floor and had pasta.
Pasta seems to be one of the Japanese staples, you have Ramen, Tonkatsu (stuff deep frien in bread crumbs), Curry, Sushi and Pasta.
With the sheer number of pasta places, I thought I would give it a try, and it actually was pretty good. I chose the healthiest thing on their menu I think, avocado and prawn.
They generally have 2 categories, western style and japanese style. The western style is much as you would get in Australia but often with a raw egg on top.
The Japanese style normally introduces seaweed flakes, a scoop of mash potato or a hamburger pattie, or all of them together, plus snow crab, always snow crab.
What I really appreciated was the American hot sauce they provided.

mother on 2015-11-19 said:
That was my neighbourhood department store. It is also called the el el building. Did you go out on the roof? Junkudo bookstore on the 14th floor?

adriana on 2015-11-19 said:
They have built a new observation platform on the top. It never used to have toilets. You are not allowed to die or give birth on Miyajima as it is a sacred island.

Page 7 is new locations, go there now.


Hi Resolution Panoramas

Latest Update

Day 1 - Monday, 2 November 2015
  Mile high typing club
  Mobile mucus dispersion unit
Day 2 - Tuesday, 3 November 2015
  Still alive
  Quietly confident
Day 3 - Wednesday, 4 November 2015
  Electric cubes and gap toothed models
  Need to step up my game
Day 4 - Thursday, 5 November 2015
  Sleepy train ride
  The dark temple
Day 5 - Friday, 6 November 2015
  Suburban Tokyo
  Not much has changed
Day 6 - Saturday, 7 November 2015
  Mosquito mountain camera failure
  Beneath the tracks
Day 7 - Sunday, 8 November 2015
  Much rain
  Soup in a can
Day 8 - Monday, 9 November 2015
  Not been here before
  And still it rains
Day 9 - Tuesday, 10 November 2015
  Long day at altitude
  Bare minimum
Day 10 - Wednesday, 11 November 2015
  Osaka castle - Nagoya branch
  Also theres Oso
Day 11 - Thursday, 12 November 2015
  Monkeys castles and fighter jets
  For one no sorry
Day 12 - Friday, 13 November 2015
  Grey day on a bald mountain
  Aeon ozone dome walk
Day 13 - Saturday, 14 November 2015
  Looming rain
  Throw everything on a plate
Day 14 - Sunday, 15 November 2015
  My room is old
  Too many places to eat
Day 15 - Monday, 16 November 2015
  Not a bad view
  I found them
Day 16 - Tuesday, 17 November 2015
  Rainy bomb day
  Get wet to go somewhere dry
Day 17 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015
  Mystery fair and bad pho
Day 18 - Thursday, 19 November 2015
  Raining tourists
  I got to wander
Day 19 - Friday, 20 November 2015
  Giant phallus
  Closed at seven
Day 20 - Saturday, 21 November 2015
  Under the sea
  The busy side
Day 21 - Sunday, 22 November 2015
  Final destination
  More than Shinjuku
Day 22 - Monday, 23 November 2015
  Other people
  Sudden downpour
Day 23 - Tuesday, 24 November 2015
  Sand castle
  Red lights dimmed
Day 24 - Wednesday, 25 November 2015
  No mountain
  It got cold
Day 25 - Thursday, 26 November 2015
  The shed

Hi Resolution Panoramas