Monday, May 07, 2007


(Pictured: the Genbaku dome; the floating torii at Miyajima at sunset; General Kuroki)
Good day to you, friends. It has been a while since I have updated you on my progress. Last week was Golden Week, the special week that people are allowed to go on holiday if they take vacation time. We have two long weekends, separated by two days of work, and if you can get those two days off, you can have a whole week to go wherever you want. This is really the best Japan has to offer, holiday-wise, the country where teachers have to stay in school all summer despite a distinct lack of work and people are too ashamed of looking like they aren’t gambarre-ing to ask for a day off. And even if they did they wouldn’t know what to use it for. None of my students, or even teachers did anything with their time. They think that traveling anywhere further away than Nagoya is hugely risky and expensive. So effectively we live in a state without vacations. What do I care? I’m leaving in two months. Then I can get a job where I’m not just pretending to work half the time, or go back to uni and do a qualification in a subject I’m interested in. But I digress:

I, David L. Blackwood, unlike the majority of my compatriots, do know how to have a good holiday. I estimate that I have seen more of the country than many Japanese have. And now I have added two new prefectures to my list of conquests: Hiroshima and Ishikawa. Now I will tell you about my delightful holiday.

I took a trip to Hiroshima, famous for having been the site of the first ever nuclear strike on a civilian population, and of course seafood. On the first day I took a trip out to the island of Miyajima, with its famous floating torii gate. The weather was clement and I took a long walk around the island which was very peaceful and had many secluded nooks and crannies away from the tourists where a body could enjoy solitude and listen to the many noises of nature. It was enough to make me feel a renewal of enjoyment of Japan. It was low tide when I arrived, so I walked out and examined the trunks of the gate. Its sides were pitted with barnacles and it loomed a bit. Later at high tide I observed that it was still looming except that I felt better now that there was a body of water between me and it. How I hate being loomed at. I took some photographs of the gate and enjoyed a light snack and a beer before getting back on the ferry. On my return to Hiroshima I went to find my capsule hotel. For those of you unaware of what a capsule hotel is, it’s a hotel where they put you in a sci-fi looking capsule which is stacked on top of other capsules. They are generally very small and cheap and no good at all for those with claustrophobia. In any case, it’s nearly possible to have a comfortable night in them. I went out for dinner with a book to read and somehow ended up getting entirely pissed on my own. This left me slightly ill-equipped to perform the important duties I had to perform the next day, notably my visit to the A-Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial Museum. The dome itself is strange, like looking through some kind of lens at the past, untouched as it has been since 1945. The cracked concrete and the skeletal bubble of the roof give it a haunted look, and in the tidy, orderly city of Hiroshima it seems as out of place as if Dracula’s castle were somehow transported to the centre of Manhattan. After that I went to the Cenotaph, the Children’s Memorial and the Museum. The Memorials are a bit underwhelming – tiny, modern, hard to connect with the mass slaughter that went on 60 years ago - except the one that is underneath the ground with a 360 degree view of the devastation and fountain in the shape of a clock permanently frozen at 8:15 in memory of those who died begging for water. They also had a database of the victims there where people could look for their deceased relatives, which I played with for a while, discovering that not only Japanese, but Koreans, Chinese and American POWs where amongst the casualties. In the Peace Memorial Museum I was able to observe artifacts from that time, such as stopped watches, burned clothes and melted glass. I saw the stone steps which have a person’s shadow burned onto them, as well as some macabre pictures of horribly burned people. Very sobering. Slept long that night but kept worrying that when I awoke I would have somehow gone back in time to 1945 and be forced to find my way out of the conflagration to come. I think I would have run through the streets trying to explain in my bad Japanese to people and yelling あぶないよ! The next day I decided to take a trip to a different time period altogether and went to Hiroshima castle (not the original, obviously) where I learned about samurai, Japanese history and looked at ornate weapons and armour. I even was allowed to wear a suit of armour and ran around like a child with behavioural issues scaring old women.

Following that me and a few like minded individuals took a trip up the coast of Ishikawa-ken where we camped and barbequed and hung out. It was quite a fine drive, up through the remote fishing villages and past the recently earthquake-damaged Wajima. Highlights were Kaki and Shiloh being attacked by a hawk, and later being terrified of any bird-type noise that came from the treeline, the pleasant scenery on the drive along the coast, and generally socialising around the barbeque. Anyway, if anything else interesting happens I’ll be sure to update. I am aware this post is not funny. This is because it is a Monday and I am at work on the first day after my holiday and I do not feel funny. I am a broken man.

1 comment:

Kaki said...

beautiful pics, though i think you should have been wearing nothing under the samurai's outfit.