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Greetings from Snowy Aomori

April 3rd, 2005 Posted in Personal

AomoriWell after a week of intense sight-seeing, Trevor and I have arrived at his home base of Aomori. He’s checking in at work right now, so I have a few minutes to get a post off. I just took that snow shot from his front porch about 2 minutes ago; obviously there is still snow here (Aomori-shi is in northern Honshu).

As for the last week, here’s the breakdown.

Kyoto

Tuesday we packed our stuff up, left Mike and Brock’s place in Tokyo, and hopped the shinkansen to Kyoto. The ride is roughly 3 hours. (On a side note, these bullet trains RULE. Fast, safe, cheap, clean, convenient; why are these things not criscrossing California?) Anyways, we checked into our Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn), which was really sweet, and went sightseeing for the next few days. We hit too many temples, shrines, and gardens to list here, but the highlights included Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, and my personal favorite, Eikando, also known as Zenrinji. The cool thing about Eikando was that it is still a currently functioning monestary, so there are living quarters on the compound, and monks just strolling around ignoring the tourists. Plus, you can actually go inside many of the temple rooms and see the intricate Buddhas and such. Very fun. Kiyomizudera was pretty sweet, too. They have these two rocks there, and if you walk from one to the other with your eyes closed, your wishes of love will come true. Try to picture old japanese people at a buddhist temple cheering and pointing at an american kid trying to talk another american kid through a crowd of people without knocking over anyone in a kimono. Fun stuff.

Hiroshima

On Friday, we once again packed our stuff and headed to Hiroshima. This was kind of an impulse move, since everyone we talked to since I got here has said it is a must see. But three days of walking all over Kyoto combined with Thursday night’s karaoke/nomihodai binge in the Kawaramachi district had left us feeling a bit under the weather, so once we arrived in our hotel in Hiroshima, we decided to take the evening off and watch some DVDs. Saturday morning, we headed out and saw the A-Bomb dome and peace memorial park, which are amazing. The A-bomb dome was a government office building (a Hiroshima landmark) which survived the A-bomb blast since it was almost directly under the hypocenter (i.e., the blast came at it almost straight down, so bulding wasn’t blown away). It has been left looking as it did directly after the blast, as a memorial. There are also a number of statues and memorials all over the park, including an eternal flame that will be put out when all nuclear weapons on earth are destroyed, and an amazing museum with artifacts from the blast, artwork from survivors, and a computer library of information about victims. An older japanese gentleman approached me in the library and asked if he could show me something; he then proceeded to look up his parents, who were both in the database with photos. He explained that although his mother had taken he and most of his family 15 miles north for fear of bombing, his father had been in the initial blast range and killed instantly. His mother spent three days wandering the rubble looking for his father and later developed lukemia from the radiation, but survived to die a death of natural causes at 79. It was a pretty incredible story to hear; we exchanged information and I’m hoping we can keep in touch.

Osaka

Hiroshima is beautiful and moving, but pretty intense, so Trevor and I decided to move on to Osaka for a little fun. We again hopped the shinkansen and checked into a cheap hotel. What can I say about this town; absolutely amazing. We’ve taken to calling it OHHHHHH-saka. I think Trevor put it best: it’s as if they have a ring of checkpoints around the city and they verify every girl’s hotness level before they are allowed to enter. I honestly have never seen so many jaw-droppingly-gorgeous women anywhere; seriously: Paris, LA, and New York have *nothing* on Osaka. We spent the night hopping gaijin bars — met a few folks, had a few laughs, the usual story. Then yesterday, we once again grabbed the bullet train and rode it all the way up here to Aomori-shi; it’s a bit of a long ride, so we had a chance to recover from the night before.

Well race fans, that’s pretty much where we’re at. Hope you enjoy the pictures; you can browse the whole set here. Catch you later.

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