Wednesday, September 10, 2008


A bit more of my Japan vacation time with Tung for your viewing pleasure.

So, after saying goodbye to my friends in Kyoto, I continued south by yet another shinkansen. By the time I met Tung at the Hiroshima train station, it was already dark outside. Not wanting to waste any time despite the late hour, we dropped our bags at the hotel and went right back out the door. A bit of random asking around bore us a bit of information about an area of town that would still be open. We wandered around a bit just admiring the city. The part of town that was still awake was quite seedy, however. I can handle grime from a safe distance, but after the first pimp approached us with his sales presentation, we grabbed the first taxi and got the heck out of there.

The main entrance to dirty town.

Of course, the main reason we were here was to see the atomic bomb related sites, and the following morning we set out for them. We used Hiroshima's unique system of street cars, that conjures an atmosphere out of the 1920s. They feature a flat fare regardless of how far one rides, which is unheard of in Japan.

A streetcar sliding into the station.

We went straight to the atomic dome, the famous building that was located almost directly beneath ground zero (the bomb detonated in the air above the city). Pictures taken after the blast show it was one of the few buildings in the area left standing. The dome was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. The United States "dissociated" itself with the decision, stating:

The United States is concerned about the lack of historical perspective in the nomination of Genbaku Dome. The events antecedent to the United States’ use of atomic weapons to end World War II are key to understanding the tragedy of Hiroshima. Any examination of the period leading up to 1945 should be placed in the appropriate historical context.

The United States believes the inscription of war sites [to be] outside the scope of the Convention. We urge the Committee to address the question of the suitability of war sites for the World Heritage List.

The atomic dome.

Several additional related memorials stand in the area, and we checked a few of them out as well. Most notable is the Children's Peace Monument, standing in memory of the children that died as a result of the bomb. The death of a girl named Sadako was the inspiration for the place. She became ill from the radiation, and made numerous origami cranes until her death shortly afterwards. I think the cranes were for world peace... something along those lines. This place has a few pages dedicated to it in one of the schools' English textbooks, so Tung and I already knew a bit about it. A couple of the shrines have a hoard of these paper cranes. Sadako’s in particular has a huge amount sent from all over the world contained in transparent cabinets. There were even a few illustrations made entirely from the colorful folded birds.

Here you can see the girl above is holding a giant origami crane. You can see the boxes full of paper animals in the background.

Here are a few of the little artworks made out of the paper cranes. Pretty neat.

Then here is another random statue with lots of the cranes hanging about.

We hadn't quite ruined our good mood enough at this point, so Tung and I headed over to the nearby Hiroshima Peace Museum.

The museum was fairly straight forward with its presentation. It showed what the city was like after and before the bombing. It went over the effects of the bomb on people and objects (one scene was particularly gruesome, showing two life size statues in a destroyed building with their flesh melting off). It then went over the current level of nuclear weapons still present on the earth and why we should get rid of all of them before its too late.

A model of the city after the blast.

This was in the section about the city before the bombing. Its a light bulb with everything but the very bottom painted black in order to not be seen by enemy bombers at night.

Some melted stuff.

A watch stopped at the time of the bomb.

Well our trip to the bomb sites wasn't the happiest time in the world, but it was something that we had to see. It was time to move on to lighter places though, so we said goodbye and went to get something to eat.

Hiroshima is famous for a food called okonomiyaki. There are so many styles that it is a bit hard to explain, but the base of the food is made of a kind of batter. Often cabbage makes up a large portion of the food as well. The mixture can also include meats, seafood, vegetables, cheese. I guess I am making it sound a bit like an omelet, but its not the same. Anyway, the whole mixture is then thrown onto a skillet and grilled.

We ran across this sign and couldn't resist. If you have the gall to call yourself the Republic of Okonomiyaki, then you probably have something worth a try.

We took an elevator up a few floors and got off. It was an amusing scene. There were three separate little okonomiyaki shops all facing a common seating area in the center. All three of the cooks were idle, and all staring at us as we walked into the room. Not wanting to hurt anyone's little feelings, or disrupt the balance of power in this young democracy, we ordered food from all three! Hurray! I should be a diplomat.

A unique spin on the recipe involved the aforementioned deliciousness sitting atop a bed of noodles.

We ordered from them all at the same time, to foster a bit of a cookoff race atmosphere.

Try deciding who gets the last slice when you're sitting opposite this fearsome face.

One guy even had an English menu, which is a rarity.

The finished product is then lathered in a sweetish sauce, and some green confetti. Other popular condiments are mayonnaise and fish shavings. Hurray food!


  1. oh. my. god. how. bad. do. i. want. some. oko. no. mi. ya. ki.

    thanks a lot, JOHN


  2. What a sad place but that okonomiyaki looks delicious.

  3. Heh, maybe I'll mail you some for Christmas.

  4. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Can I get some okonomiyaki too?

  5. Come over and I'll cook you some.