06/02/11 - Shizuoka - meeting Chiho's family 静岡にちほーちゃんの家族に会いました〜

10:43:00 PM 11 Comments A+ a-

Japan post time again! I've been so busy this week it's crazy, so many assignments due and I have so much photography work to edit! So anyway, I decided to take a break from editing for a few hours so thought I'd just write up another Japan blog post.

This post is going to be about my journey from Hiroshima to Shizuoka by shinkansen! (Bullet train). I had to wake up early that morning to shower and get ready, I bought my ticket to Shizuoka by Shinkansen while I was back in Osaka (it was like $200! So expensive O_O). If you're traveling to Japan with a passport other than a Japanese passport, you're able to buy a JR Pass which lets you ride on the shinkansen/JR lines (except the Nozomi shinkansen - the fastest one) as much as you want within the time limit you have paid for. I didn't get it because it wasn't worth it for me, as I was going to only catch the Shinkansen that one time to Shizuoka, and then to Tokyo about 10 days later. It's probably around $300 for the JR pass for 1 week, so that's why I didn't buy it. If you are traveling to Japan for only about 1-2 weeks, I would recommend you get a JR pass if you're planning on traveling all around the country. If you're planning to stay in one place for lets say over a week then don't get it since it won't be worth it.

Anyway, woke up early to shower and get ready. Before we left, we left some onigiri at the hostel since we made way too much the night before haha. We didn't expect anyone to take any, but suprisingly some people did. A Korean guy just arrived at the hostel that time I think, and so he took one while I was making my coffee and left us a really nice note.




How nice ^^ hehe

Before I left the hostel, took a quick photo


After that, I caught the tram down to Hiroshima station with Annie (it's only a 10 minute walk from our hostel, but I didn't want to carry my luggage) and then found out platform. I kind of got lost in the train station so had to ask around for a bit of help .__. Lucky I had some Japanese knowledge since I was able to get help straight away. We were at the station about 20 minutes early so we just waited around for our shinkansen.




That's the Kodama Shinkansen I think, it's the slowest one (stops at all stations)


Information about our shinkansen (Nozomi). It's the fasstest shinkansen they have in Japan, only stops at the main stations. We had to catch this train first to Nagoya and transfer there since Shizuoka isnt' a main station.

So our shinkansen came exactly on the dot (I love how Japanese transport is almost never late!)




Inside the Nozomi Shinkansen. It looks like an airplane inside! So cool right? I had some troubles boarding the shinkansen because I had massive suitcases. I kept knocking people with it when I went on the shinkansen so had to say sorry so many times to the other passengers .__.

The ride from Hiroshima to Nagoya took about 2 hours so I bought some manga to read. I stopped after since I got a bit sleepy, fell asleep for a bit and took some photos.


A little village we passed by.



Camwhoring as usual


I think this was Kyoto station? I'm not sure


Not sure what this station is either..

Anyway, we finally got to Nagoya so we had to transfer. We were lucky that we didn't have to change platforms. The next train came within 5 minutes, so we boarded the train. This time we were taking the Kodama, the slowest shinkansen. (Stops at all stations). The inside of the train was a bit smaller and wasn't as new as the Nozomi we were in, however it looked pretty much the same inside.


Window on the Kodama


One stop away from our destination!

We arrived at Shizuoka safely and on time so we had to wait for the other study tour participants to arrive. They had only arrived in Japan earlier that day so they were running a little bit late because of some troubles. But anyway, I met up with Chiho again and we went to a bakery to eat some lunch. I also got to meet her parents for the first time, they were really nice!


I think this was cheese and bacon? So nice, I love anything with cheese in it haha.


With Chiho!

Also a funny thing I thought I'd add. When Chiho was in Australia she told me that Shizuoka is really small and there wasn't much to do there. So before arriving to Shizuoka, I was kind of expecting a really old train station with nothing there like the ones we have where I live. I was so wrong, the train station is HUGE! There were SO many shops around so if you ever got bored while waiting for someone, there are so many shops you can go to!

After that we went to do a bit of shopping. One of the requirements in a Japanese school is that you wear different shoes into the classroom. You're not allowed to wear your normal shoes inside the hallway/classes and that includes teachers. I already bought the slippers while I was in Tokyo (100yen slippers ftw!) except they were TINY! They were like a size 4 or something like that T_T But still, I wasn't willing to pay any more for shoes I was going to throw out anyway so I decided to deal with the pain haha. Also another requirements was sneakers for physical education class. Those of you that know me in real life know that I NEVER wear sneakers when I go out, I don't even own a pair haha. So unfortunately I had to buy a pair. Chiho's mother chose out a pair of converse sneakers but I felt really bad because they were quite expensive, and I knew I wasn't going to wear them later anyway so she told me to just buy it and she will wear them when I leave ^^;;



Walked by a performance!

After that Chiho's parents drove us home. I was so exhausted from the shinkansen ride that I fell asleep in the car.

Chiho's house is quite far from Shizuoka, it was in the next town in Makinohara which is about an hour away. I settled in and unpacked my stuff. It was so nice to actually stay with a family, for the past month I was traveling just staying in hostels which was fun, but it was nice to be with a family after so long.

I was helping Chiho study when her parents asked if we wanted to go to her grandparent's place nearby to visit. I went with Chiho to her grandparents place where I stayed for a bit. I really should've bought them a present! They were SO nice and they gave me 10,000 yen. They told me "go use this money and have fun in Japan!" they were so nice. I'm planning to send them something from Australia but it's a bit hard right now with Japan still recovering from the earthquake disaster.


Kotatsu at her grandparent's place! This thing is sooo warm!


Me and Chiho with her grandparents! They're so nice and cute! hehe when I asked if I can take a photo with them, her grandma was telling us to wait so she can go do her hair haha xD


Their present they gave to me

We went back to Chiho's house after and her mum had prepared dinner for us. Japanese people put so much effort into presentation with their food!



I didn't really do much since I had to sleep early that night to wake up at 5am the next day for school. But it was great to spend time with a Japanese family! I missed Chiho so much! I did hang out with her once in Tokyo in my first week in Japan, but it was about a month later did I get to see her again. Next few Japan posts will be about my highschool experience!

05/02/11 - Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima 広島

5:08:00 PM 0 Comments A+ a-

Time for another Japan blog!

This blog is going to be about my second (and last) day in Hiroshima. We went to the Atomic Bomb Dome which was bombed during the WWII on August 6, 1945.



The Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome is the closest building to where the bomb dropped that remained standing. The main reason for coming to Hiroshima was to see this building, so we dedicated a whole day to go visit it. Some advice though however, if you're planning to go shopping or something in Hiroshima, go BEFORE you visit the Atomic Bomb Dome Museum. You'll most likely feel depressed after visiting it and won't be in the mood for going out.. Well that's what happened to me anyway.

Anyway, onto the blog, we woke up and decided to make some onigiri as snacks for the day. I also filmed a video on how to make onigiri when we sold them to raise money for Japan, if you guys want I can upload it. I haven't uploaded it yet because of the bad quality video :(



We took the tram again to get to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I can't really remember how long it took to get there, perhaps around 30 minutes.




We arrived at the Atomic Bomb Dome. I took a lot of photos of the Atomic Bomb Dome.




They had to put bars inside the building to prevent it from falling down









The Peace Memorial Park is really big. I tried to go to all the monuments there but didn't have enough time to go through everything. We sort of had a time limit because Russell and Eric had to leave Hiroshima that day by Shinkansen (bullet train). Anyway, I kind of wandered off on my own to go to the monuments myself.

The Peace Fountain is right next to the Atomic Bomb dome.



Me in front of the Peace Foundation.

It was so quiet and peaceful in the park




Next I went to the statue that had thousands of cranes hanging off on the side. I think this is a memorial for the children who served Japan in the world war.








You can also pick up a sheet explaining the monument and the history behind it. You can either pick it up in Japanese or English.

I picked up both the Japanese and English versions but decided to just post the English version on here.

While walking around I couldn't stop taking scenic photos of this park. Everything just looks so beautiful






I then crossed the Motoyasu-bashii bridge which took me to the Children's Peace Monument.



Surrounding the monument are thousands of cranes on display sent from all over the world.






A picture of the Atomic Bomb Dome from across the bridge:


I kept walking and arrived at the Peace Clock Tower


The Peace Bell:


I also got a video of me ringing the Peace Bell. Will edit the video sometime.

Next is the monument for the Korean victims and survivers



Merciful Goddess Kannon of Peace


We were running out of time so I was unable to go through all the monuments. There are 65 monuments overall but I was only able to cover around 20 of them. We then decided to go to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. While walking to the museum, we walked past some really beautiful scenary.

Flame of Peace. I read somewhere that this flame will only go out once every country in the world gets rid of all their nuclear weapons (Not sure if it's true or not).


The pond of peace



You can see the Atomic Bomb dome through here

Fountain of prayer


So we went into the museum. The entry is really cheap, it was only 50yen which is like 75 cents. This museum is very foreigner-friendly. They have their displays in both Japanese and English.



This watch stopped once the bomb hit Hiroshima at 8.15am



A model of Hiroshima before and after the bomb. The red ball indicates the hypo center.
Before:



After:







This globe indicates which countries have nuclear weapons in their possession.







I'm sure a lot of people would've heard of Sadako Sasaki. The girl who died because of the radiation from the atomic bomb, she tried folding 1000 paper cranes hoping she can live. She was just 2 years old when the atomic bomb hit Hiroshima. When she was 12 she was diagnosed with leukemia and died later that year. It is believed that whoever folds 1000 paper cranes will have their wish granted to them. I'm not sure how many cranes Sadako folded before she died, there are too many versions of the story. But the museum had paper cranes Sadako folded herself on display. Back then origami paper was expensive, so Sadako folded cranes out of anything she can find. They had some really tiny paper cranes she made on display.







The museum was very informative, but it does make you depressed after when you walk out of it. What I liked about the museum was that it was non-biased. They didn't point fingers and blame anyone for what had happened. It was worth the trip going all the way to Hiroshima to see the Peace Memorial Park.

After that, I had to rush back to the hostel with Eric since his Shinkansen was leaving soon for Nagano. I wasn't going to leave until the next morning for Shizuoka so I decided to go back with him.

Waiting for the tram.

I was on the tram for about 3 stops until I realized I forgot my hat at the museum. I left it on one of the displays while reading it.. so I had to rush off the tram and then head back to the museum. I decided to stop by a Surplus (convenience store in Japan) to buy drink so I can have coins later to pay the trams.


I decided to just walk to the museum since I would be able to get there faster that way. I got back to the museum and luckily my hat was already at the front desk. I managed to get it back, signed it off then took the tram back to the hostel. I did want to go shopping for a bit and check out the city of Hiroshima, but I wasn't in the mood for that unfortunately. Instead I decided to stay at the hostel to get ready for the next day as I was going to head off to Shizuoka.


My shinkansen ticket to Shizuoka (It's like $200 T_T)

My next few blogs will be all about homestay and highschool experience in Japan! Follow my blog to keep up to date with posts!