although daunting, it is not impossible to visit miyajima and hiroshima in one day while based out of tokyo. in order to do so, hauling ass is imperative, and a mastery of elementary japanese is paramount. after the trip, though, i realized that i needed to take an extra day to explore the south more thoroughly–it’s gorgeous and almost everyone i met was incredibly friendly.
get ready to read some fun scheduling maneuvers. i took the 515ish train from asakusa to ueno, changed stations and arrived at tokyo station. from there i was whisked to shin osaka. i had precisely 15 minutes to change trains for hiroshima. from hiroshima i took the local train to miyajima and jumped on a ferry that took me to the world heritage site. from there i took the ferry back to the mainland, jumped on the local train to hiroshima, and then hopped a bus to visit the hypocenter of the atomic bomb. after going to the peace museum, i took the city bus back to the train station (in the rain) and made the last train to tokyo–switching trains in osaka with a 5 minute interval. once i arrived at tokyo station, i took the JR train to ueno, switched stations and arrived in asakusa at approximately midnight. the picture of my accomplishment is seen below.
a few interesting things occured during this crazy day.
when i switched at osaka i got a feeling that people were different than tokyo. things seemed raw. people seemed hurried (like in tokyo) but it seemed more real. it seemed earthier, more authentic. i remembered what boy/friend (see previous posts) said about people in osaka. he claimed that they were stupid, their accent brutish. people in kyoto, though, have the reputation for being cold, standoffish and snob-like. their dialect is considered to be “pretty” even though they’re a stone’s throw from osaka.
as i sat on the train going from osaka to hiroshima, i started a conversation with a french girl seated next to me. we discussed current events. i told her that i was happy france legalized gay marriage. she immediately said, “mais moi, je suis contre.” she claimed to be conservative through and through, making some bullshit argument about the “nature” of relationships. in her twisted mind, “natural” relationships require both a masculine and feminine presence.
“and the kids?” she asked, “what about the kids?” holding my tongue, i informed her that the vast majority of research shows that children from loving families develop appropriately, regardless of the parents’ sexual orientations. the next argument was the classic, “it’s the church that decides who can marry in the eyes of god.” i bit my tongue trying not to remind her that france is a country that prides itself on separation of church and state. i quickly changed the subject and inquired about her professional life. “i’m unemployed,” she said. (wait for it) “all of these immigrants are draining our system.” yes, the system that she, herself, is draining as well. i was dying to ask how an unemployed person could take 4 week vacations in japan. passons-outre.
when i arrived in hiroshima i was greeted with doting girls working at the tourist information desk. they found my japanese cute and they smiled as i stumbled my way through asking simple questions to orient myself. i felt spoiled by their kindness. i couldn’t help but feel enraptured by their grace and good looks.
the peace museum, however, is another story. i was moved to tears after having learned what the survivors and their dead underwent. i saw a spot on concrete where a man’s shadow was burnt into stone, his body completely vaporized by the bomb. one mother saved her son’s fingertips and nails after they fell off from severe burns. she gave them to her husband as remains of their son when he returned from war. horrible stories of leukemia and cancer followed. i learned a bit about an atomic blast–i had no idea a reverse air wave happens after the original explosion. apparently, after the hiroshima blast, nuclear waste crystallized in the moist air and fell to the earth as “black rain.” victims that lay burning in the streets drank the black rain to survive. in essence, these people had a double dose of atrocity.
on a lighter note, while at the train station, i witnessed two women pushing their breasts upward, vigorously. it was similar to what i saw on the japanese variety show. oh, and i took the bus all by myself!