I was sitting in the Hiroshima Peace Park when a Japanese man came over to talk. He asked me where I was from, how long I’d been in Japan and how I liked it. I told him it was a very welcoming country and I was enjoying it very much. He was genuinely pleased.
The friendliness and generosity of virtually everyone we’ve met here will be one over-riding impression I’ll take home from my Japan experience. Another is the Peace Park.
Looking at the iconic dome, it seems really obvious to me that this is the only logical end to aggression. Any sort of aggressive behaviour will only ever spiral towards the worst possible outcome: complete annihilation. When most people just want to live and be happy I wonder why it’s so necessary.
In 1945 the inhabitants of Hiroshima were happily starting a new day when suddenly they all ceased to exist. 70,000 lives extinguished instantly. Then, three days later, the same thing happened in Nagasaki.
It’s no good laying blame anywhere. The Americans didn’t have to do it and the Japanese could have surrendered, yadda, yadda, yadda. What it comes down to is just a couple of knob-heads rattling their oversized and underused sabres.
There’s a battle in Game of Thrones where John Snow suggests to Ramsay Bolton that the two of them fight rather than lose all the lives of their soldiers. This is, for me, the perfect solution to two people with opposing points of view. Kill each other but leave the rest of us well alone.
I’m sure if someone had asked the civilian population of Hiroshima if they wanted to be instantly incinerated for the sake of some political stance they’d have said no. Loudly.
The thing is, had the US not dropped the bombs, the USSR was closing in on Japan and, theory has it that they would have surrendered anyway. So was it a big bit of propaganda to show the Communists that the US had the capacity to lay waste to entire cities? I call that being a total arsehole.
The park, given it’s provenance, is a beautiful and peaceful place (even in the drizzling rain). It’s also a World Heritage Site, something the US weren’t exactly happy about. (I don’t know why. Surely it’s the absolute example of their pathetic ‘right to bear arms.’)
We’d arrived at the Peace Park by fast ferry from the island. Always a wonderful way to arrive anywhere particularly when there’s a really short Japanese woman sitting a few rows in front of us who couldn’t actually see out of the window unless she stood up.
Her family took great delight in teasing her and taking photos. It was very funny…though possibly not for her. We were the only ones on the ferry, which was nice. It was 45 minutes and quite lovely even thought the weather was not the best.
After the Peace Park we grabbed a taxi to Hiroshima Shinkansen station where we headed back to Kyoto for the first leg of our trip to Kanazawa. We decided to spoil ourselves with first class (or the Green Car as they call it here). It was very comfortable made even more so by Bento Boxes that Mirinda had managed to procure from Hiroshima station.
Speaking of stations…Kyoto station is one of the biggest buildings in Japan. It also has a platform 0 (we left from it so can attest to its existence). It doesn’t, however, have a platform 1. The numbers go 0, 2, 3, 4 etc. The reason for the lack of a platform 1 is because there’s three sets of tracks between platforms 0 and 2 and the middle set is only used for freight which always goes straight through the station. This would be platform 1…if it existed. Which it doesn’t.
Anyway, I’ve been wanting to have a Bento Box since we arrived so it was an extra special treat for lunch. Though all the rice put Mirinda asleep.
At Kyoto we waited for our train to Kanazawa, a Thunderbird rather than a Shinkansen. And they are not as accurate with their landings. Where the Shinansen is pinpoint accurate with their doors at the designated spot on the platform, the Thunderbird was half a platform away. Very annoying but I guess we’ve just been spoiled.
The train was just as comfortable (though not as fast) and the 133 minutes almost flew by like the continuously dull landscape of flat land, paddy fields and industrial heartland surrounded by the same, boring housing buildings. I understand why the Japanese are always looking at the little things…it’s because the big things are pretty ugly.
Eventually we arrived at our hotel and we’re on the floor again (yay) and there’s an onsen (double yay). Pretty soon after arriving we headed out to find a restaurant and discovered a delightful Chinese place called Mei Mei where we devoured some lovely chicken and coriander, lamb and fennel dumplings and stir-fry pork and lotus root. All totally delicious. (Monali would have loved it! Particularly the pork and lotus which was quite spicy.)
We wandered back to the hotel and I went down to the public bath for a jolly good soak. I’m loving the onsen experience and will be having one every night while we’re here.
So I woke up this morning expecting the foot to be back to normal (like it usually is after a few days) but no. It was still swollen and still painful to stand on. I feel depressed. Mirinda suggested we end the holiday and fly home but I can’t. She has been so looking forward to it (as have I) and I really don’t want to be the one to ruin it because of my stupid fucking foot!
After the agony of putting my shoe on for the first time for a couple of days, it was gradually easier to walk. The stick and the handle of the suitcase was very useful. A lot of time sitting was also very good.