This morning it was POURING rain! We got onto the ferry and crossed back over to the main land, and traveled to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park. It was a very humbling experience. We went at our own pace, with our audio guides, and learned about how Japan was before the USA dropped the atomic bomb, how America came to the decision to drop the bomb on Japan, the effects of the bomb, the effects of the radiation, etc. It was very sad, but educational.
A diagram of Hiroshima after the bombing
I love this island. A fun fact: there are tons of small, wild deer that are completely tame. I actually saw some of them posing for pictures with big groups (I am sure the photographer had food or something to make them cooperate). Be weary of paper or clothing though, they tend to eat them if you aren’t careful.
Tame deer on Miyajima Island
Read more on “Day 10 – Free Day on Miyajima Island” »
The word `castle` makes me light up inside. I am filled with thoughts of kings and queens, romance and war, fantasy and imagination, so I was really looking forward to seeing Osaka Castle today (you are hearing this from a 27 year old female who was raised on Disney). Let me tell you, though it wasn’t Disney, I was not disappointed! When we first arrived there, you can see the HUGE walls surrounding and protecting the castle area, being a fortress. The view was breathtaking, and the cherry blossom trees all around just added to the magic. Some of the stones that they used to build up the walls were HUGE (around 113 tons!). We were able to go inside the castle, which is a museum now, with an observation deck at the top. It all was a great sight to see.
Osaka Castle Walls
Bright and early at 6am, the temple has a prayer service. Guests are welcome to join and participate or observe this prayer time with the monks which involves chanting certain traditional phrases in a monotone pitch. I personally did not attend, but I could hear the prayers down the hall.
At 7am, we had breakfast, and then headed out to the huge Koyosan cemetery, which has such history and beautiful memorials. We got to see many different shrines, gravestones and memorials, and some of significant people and events that have happened in history. I also noticed some gravestones that had brightly colored baby bibs and caps on them. One of the beliefs is that if your child dies before you, they are not allowed to enter paradise. Parents of course don’t want their children to suffer in hell because they can`t pass on, so they put personal belongings of their child with the gravestone, as a plea to Boddhisattva Jizo for their children to pass onto paradise. Also, as the bright colors of their items fade, they symbolize it with their sorrow that fades over time. Read more on “Day 8 – Tour Koyasan, Travel to Osaka” »
Today was a long day of traveling on subways, trains, busses, and cable cars. We arrived around 4pm at our ryokan, which was the Jokiin Buddhist Temple. Jokiin means always joyous. Koyasan is such a beautiful mountain town, though right now it was VERY cold. They had received some snow right before we arrived, and it was much colder than Takayama. I heard that Koyasan can be a great retreat during the summer, for relaxation in the mountains, and to get away from the heat.
Entrance to Jokiin Buddhist Temple.
Takayama is a sweet, smaller town with a population around 100,000. It is a very different pace than Tokyo, and reminds me more of home. I actually learned that Takayama is a sister city to Denver, and we did have some snow here, so that must be why I felt more at home here. This morning, we started with a traditional Japanese breakfast at the ryokan. The Japanese breakfasts are very different, and usually full of different kinds of tofu and fish. It is neat seeing different kinds of breakfast. After everyone ate, we went over to a morning Miya-gawa market. It was a few blocks of different street vendors and stores that had lots of fun odds and ends. They specialized in turnips in this area, so I saw lots of pickled turnips being sold everywhere. Read more on “Day 6 – Tour Takayama” »