My first trip to the nearby metropolis of Hiroshima, Japan. From Kawamoto, I caught a bus to Oda City, where I tried some fresh prunes for breakfast.
From Oda City, I carpooled with a few other ALTs to Hiroshima (about two and a half hours). The purpose of the trip was to provide my carmates with their “foreign food” fix, which means: Starbucks, Subway, a foreign foods grocery store, and a Mexican restaurant. I packed a lunch and passed on the Starbucks, but I had a great time nonetheless.
I was struck by the simple beauty of the city. We strolled through the Peace Park, where I saw the Atomic Bomb Dome: an important prefectural building that was gutted by the atom bomb, but was left with its external structure standing.
We also saw many paper cranes – powerful (and colorful!) symbols of peace – decorating statues and monuments:
Nearby we spotted a “Giant Drum”, supported by a turtle, dedicated to the Koreans who lost their lives during WWII.
It was an interesting experience to be an American walking around the Peace Park in Hiroshima as a somewhat nonchalant tourist…I couldn’t help but be affected by the reality of the atrocity I was associated with just by being an American citizen. I felt slightly nauseous the entire time we were there.
From the Peace Park we headed into the shopping district of Hiroshima, where I was immediately drawn into a specialty tea shop: Cho-no-wa. So much tea, so many matcha-flavored delicacies! A fellow ALT bought me daifuku after watching me drool over it for a few minutes…it was magical. The texture of mochi (pounded, gelatinized rice) filled with anko (sweet adzuki bean paste) is entirely unique. I am slightly addicted to it. And I can make it while I’m here!
We eventually made our way into a foreign foods grocery store named Jupiter. There were foods from around the world – our Australian friend even found some chocolate cookies from home. I didn’t buy any food (I love Japanese food!), but I did find some microbrewed Japanese beer! I was thrilled. There were a few bottles to choose from, but I went for the big specialty bottle – Nipponia. I’m enjoying it as I write this…my first tasty beer since arriving in Japan!
The brewery is Hatchino Nest, and their logo is an owl. Check out their website at: http://hitachinonest.com/
We ended the evening with a delicious Mexican meal served in a cool cafe-style restaurant with some sweet music playing (Stefan Grossman). The atmosphere of the place reminded me of something that would inspire MJ and I in our plans for a pub. More books and music than you’d find in anyone’s home, many varieties of instruments strewn around, and plenty of wooden furnishings:
After leaving Hiroshima, we ran out of gas and spent a few hours hanging out at a combini (Japanese convenience store), where I ate too many wasabi snack sticks…
We eventually made it to a gas station (at 5:00am), where I discovered that I was stranded and could not make it back home as the trains were shut down due to a typhoon.
I was lucky, though. My supervisor came and picked me up and drove me the forty-five minutes to work. I had enough time to shower and run down the hill in time to make the teachers’ meeting at 8:10am this morning!