July 18 – Hiroshima!

Hiroshima is a heck of a town!

I’m not sure if it was the nice weather, trees everywhere, the beautiful mountain surrounding the town, or what – but I have become a quick fan of Hiroshmia.

Obviously, when you talk about Hiroshima, the first thing that comes to your mind is the Atomic Bomb.  Certainly, that has been on my mind from the moment I first arrived, but today’s blog is going to be about the town.  Tomorrow, I am visiting the Atomic Bomb Museum and we’ll go over all of that.


Hiroshima Castle

I arrived on the bullet train in the early afternoon from Kyoto. After dropping my stuff off in my hotel room, I went looking for adventure!

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A scene from the bullet train

I stopped by the Hiroshima Castle.  Now, just like pretty much everything in Hiroshima – it’s not ancient.  It was rebuilt after being demolished when the bomb was dropped.  Still though, it was quite spectacular.

I was able to go inside the castle. The insides were a modern building (again, this was rebuilt in the 50’s), but the exhibits did a good job of painting a picture of Hiroshima in antiquity and Hiroshima before the bombing. They did have a few photos of the castle before and after the bombing, it was basically reduced to rubble. The bomb actually hit less than a mile from this location.

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The next picture is a panorama I did from the top of the temple. Notice the city is surrounded by mountains.
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Okonomiyaki

After Hiroshima Castle, I went by the Peace Park (more on that tomorrow), got something to eat, and went shopping (or at least watching others shop).

First something about my meal.  The one meal I was really looking forward to about Japan was the Okonomiyaki.  This is a combination of cabbage, soba noodles, bacon, batter, egg, onions, and some other assorted things all grilled together and served right in front of you while still on the grill.  I was trying to find a place that sells it (Hiroshima is famous for it).  Lucky for me, there’s a place very near by that has three stories of a building devoted to little Okonomiyaki stalls!  Amazing!ajuly18-tokyo-3135

It was delicious and I will be back!


The National Pastime of Japan

From what I can tell from the short time I’ve been in Japan, there’s nothing the locals love more than shopping!

Now, I’m not a big shopper.  I prefer to have Amazon bring me what I need!

But, if you are someone who loves to go clothes shopping or just be surrounded by an incomprehensible amount of stuff, Japan is the place for you (although probably not your pocketbook).

I visited a few Japanese department stores.  These are 10 story-ish buildings with every floor devoted to a different kind of thing.  There’s a bewilderingly large variety of things you can get.  If you were a shop-o-holic, I would imagine that you could spend an entire day in one of these places.  Here’s an example of one store by my hotel, Parco, and what kinds of things they have one each floor…followed by my reaction.

This is the 1st floor below ground. Usually, this is where you find resteraunts and various treats. In this case, there was a bunch of makeup. PASS!
The first floor has ladies clothes…PASS!
The second floor has ladies clothes, a hair salon, and some mens clothes. As always with the men’s clothes…they are for smaller men than I!
Ladies clothes – PASS!
Ladies clothes, bags and such, also there’s a gelato place.
Men’s clothes and glasses. I’m not much for men’s fashion. As long I’ve got two pairs of moderately clean khakis, some polos and a button down shirt or two, I’m ready to roll!
Assorted clothes and random fashion stuff. This floor does have some sports stuff (jerseys and such) of teams I’ve never heard of!
Ladies goods again. Mostly for teen girls. I hopped on the next elevator quickly!
More women’s clothes (are you sensing a pattern here…) and another floor to skip!
Soccer stuff, but mostly sound things. You could buy some ridiculous instruments up here. Not just Wal-Mart junk like you might be thinking. I’m talking $12,000 guitars and really nice synthesizers and pianos. There’s also a Tower Records attached that features a lot of J-Pop!
It says “Sound and Entertainment” on the guide. I got up there and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Probably a club or something. Not quite my scene!

An external keypad with a dedicated "Excel" button - that's the keypad for me!

An external keypad with a dedicated “Excel” button – that’s the keypad for me!

There were department stores like this everywhere. I found one that specialized in electronics. There were about 8 floors or so…floor containing Apple products, PC products, model kids, toys, PC parts, etc…

While I’m not exactly in the market to go shopping right now (as I’ve got to fly everything back home), it was a pretty neat and new experience for me.

There was also this place called Don Quixote which I guess could be described like a grocery store, but one that assaulted your senses at every move.  Strange place!

Tomorrow will be a far more sobering day I explore the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and surrounding grounds. Then, maybe – potentially something very different yet familiar…not sure if I can pull this one off…