Saturday, October 5, 2019

Jesus and Nemo visit Hiroshima

Hello friends, I know I was going to do a part II for Mostly Spring in Japan, but it has been so long I've decided to let that go. Even the best of us get overwhelmed at times! Nemo and I want to tell you about our adventures in Hiroshima during Thanksgiving of 2018 before Thanksgiving of 2019.

We, of course, brought our friends Florrie and Chris along. About a month before our trip Florrie researched Goodwill Guides, there are many organizations that put tourists in touch with free guides throughout Japan. We were lucky enough to get a great guide, he was a 70 year old man who walked circles around the four of us! We told him where we would like to go and he made most of the arrangement. We booked our own hotel which we liked, it had a great view.

Although, we did sort of wish we had known about this place.

Our first night we just wandered around a bit and looked for an interesting place to have dinner. We found this funky little place not too far from our hotel.

Our first full day we visited a very famous Japanese landmark. 
Do you recognize this place? Here is a link to information about the 

We took this boat across to Miyajima which means shrine Island. The boat took us under the "Floating Torii Gate" and over to the island which is the home of the Itsukushima Shrine.
This is practically the first thing we saw as we disembarked.

The deer were pretty tame, they seemed to be mostly hanging out in one area. Apparently deer are big ice cream fans and they aren't shy about begging.

This is an entry way into one of the areas of the island/shrine.

You can see some of the detail here; a couple of gods and a very large straw sandal.

Our friend Chris made sure we got to see all of the sights.
He offered us some sake, of course Nemo said yes,
he drinks like a, well you know!

where we looked we saw beauty.
Isn't the little girl precious; it's good to see
children learning about their traditions.

There were different areas on the island. Our guide brought us to an area with a lot of Buddhas next.

The guy in the red hat reminded Chris of Bacchus the god of wine who we ran into many times in Italy. We also saw this same guy in Morioka in the Shrine of 500 Buddhas.

I always enjoy meeting with like minded people so this was a special part of the trip for me. Nemo and his little fish brain are always happy, so he enjoyed our conversations too. When we asked why so many of the Buddha were wearing hats we were told, "Because it's cold"!

Along with too many Buddhas to count, we also ran into these lovely ladies. They told us they were acolytes in training.

We can't show you everything we saw or Florrie will still be working on Thanksgiving 2018 during Thanksgiving 2019! So, heed our advice, if you get the chance visit Miyajima!

Another good reason to look into the free guides is that there could be unexpected benefits. We all wanted to visit the Mazda Museum but even though we tried to buy tickets quite far in advance we were told they were sold out. When we let our guide know that we might be asking him to work with us another day because we weren't taking the tour he surprised us by getting us tickets. There is no guarantee this will happen for someone else but the guides are still wonderful! We found the museum visit quite fun and educational; I love seeing the ingenuity of the human race! We got to go through the factory but weren't allowed to take pictures. The old cars were cool.

As many of you know there is more to Japanese cuisine than sushi. We told our guide that we would like to experience Okonomiyaki which is a special meal made with a pancake like thing on the bottom with all kinds of ingredients piled on top.

He took us to this place, which he said was his favorite Okonomiyaki place in Hiroshima.

It was interesting to watch our food being prepared.

 We all enjoyed our meal. Nemo and I have small appetites so we got a bite of all three. Nemo refused to eat the squid or oysters.

We walked by this area most days when we went out exploring. I always like little shrines, no matter who they belong to, so we stopped here. Florrie and Chris were more interested in the little restaurant called Oyster Conclave.

Basically you could have oysters or oysters; but they were all delicious and most of them were cooked. The price was reasonable and after our third time there we were like family! We tried everything on the menu, that's why it took a while. There is an outside seating area along the river but because it was late November it was cold and they weren't serving out there.

We had other good meals and of course we ate at our favorite breakfast place Sukiya. If you live in or visit Japan you should eat there at least once. The pictures below are not Sukiya.

This is the view from the Hiroshima Orizuru Tower. This is a tall building with a great view, different seating arrangements on the roof and a glass floored area way up high were you drop paper cranes down a chute. You can see the chute on the outside of the building, at the top is the glass floor where you can look down and have an interesting experience! I of course, did not mind it at all, Nemo prefers water to air under his fins.

We spent a good amount of time on the roof. It was an inviting place. There were warm domes to relax in and other seating arrangements out in the cool air.

Nemo and I enjoy parks; we are both into nature. 

There were many beautiful places to wander here.
We did not get tea in the little tea house, it was't open at the time.

Of course we all know that Hiroshima 
was the first city in the world to be be 
bombed by a nuclear bomb. 
Here are two views of the Genbaku Dome, which is the only building still standing that was close to the hypocenter of the bomb.
This is a sign that tells a little about it.

This serene little mound in the park covers an underground vault that holds the ashes of about 70,000 unidentified people who were killed in the explosion.

There is also a children's park within the peace museum area. There are lots of paper cranes; the picture below is made entirely of small paper cranes, it is just one of many. Everyone is allowed to place paper cranes in the Children's Peace Monument in the park.

The statue is Sadako, the main character in a very sad children's book; we also went by her school. Not ot get preachy or anything but this is another place like Auschwitz, that reminds us all why it is
so important that we work towards world peace.

There is much more then we have shown you to Hiroshima;

cool sculptures,


museums, and an anime library.      

Well, believe it or not, it's been less than a year since this trip and Florrie has gotten her blog done! Maybe this is the start of something! Until next time when I'll tell you about our trip to New Zealand, sayonara.      

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mostly Spring in Northern Japan part 1

I don't  have any idea what is going on but for the second
time this whole blog entry has disappeared! We need a
miracle to get it back!

If you remember when the last post ended Florrie's sister
Joanne and her husband Alan were visiting from the states.
We had all just watched the Yabusame practice. We're going
to share some of our adventures but not try to put them in any
particular order.

On the map below you can see the Aomori Prefecture which is
where we live. Misawa is the dark bit on the map.

Image result for misawa aomori map

One day we decided we would take a drive all around what
looks like a hatchet head but is actually the Shimokita Peninsula
Our hope (especially Joanne's) was that we would see some of the
wild monkeys that live on the Sea of Japan side (Tsugaru Strait, on the
map) side of the peninsula. We were driving along when all of a
sudden Alan exclaimed, "Monkeys!" and there they were! We
stopped in the middle of the road and took pictures. There were
babies but as soon as we stopped the adults gathered them up
and took off so we didn't get pictures. Still, it was quite exciting.
I always enjoy seeing any type of creature.

We continued our trip as we wanted to show Joanne and Alan the
cliffs of Hotokegaura. This is an eerie but beautiful place along
what would be the blade of the hatchet if this area was really a
hatchet. You can read a little about the place here.

Do you see the octopus? Joanne took that picture, we
hung out and watched it for a while.

These pictures are actually from a different visit to the
cliffs but I wanted to show the little shrine in a cave we 
passed on the way down and the other one inside a building 
down among the cliffs.                                  

 Pretty much anywhere you go in Japan you see rocks
with messages engraved on one or two sides. Chris and 
Florrie never know what they say and I'm a quiet fellow 
so I never tell. 

Alan was determined to at least put his toes in the Sea of Japan!

More places we saw on the trip around the hatchet.

The fish and fist are a sculpture in the town of Oma 
which is at the very tip of the hatchet, and the northernmost 
point of Honshu Island. The fat naked creature is a tanuki 
who is very important in Japanese folklore; if you are 
interested in learning more about them check out this link

We also saw these boats, one still in use and one retired. 
Can you read the writing on the bottom boat? Florrie, Chris, 
Nemo and I were all here during the earthquake/tsunami/
nuclear disaster. Florrie and I both posted blogs about our
experiences. If you'd like to read them you can check out 
this old post and this one.

Another day we drove south and checked out the Tanesashi
Coast, as you can see it is another beautiful place. I 
understand why Florrie wants to live on the coast when 
she retires. I don't like to brag but isn't the world an 
amazing place! The Tanesashi Coast is a beautiful area
south of Hachinohe; there is a five km trail which we did not 
walk because we had a busy day planned. Florrie has walked
it before and hopes to walk it again..

In Hachinohe we had a sake tasting and brewery tour. You are 
warned not to eat natto before going on one of these tours. 
For many people, especially non Japanese, that is not a problem. 
Natto is ferment soybeans. It is very sticky and has a taste many
people find troubling. In fact, if you want to see a reenactment
of Tom Hanks eating caviar in Big just give natto to someone
who has never had it before. The reason you don't eat natto
before the tour is because the kojikin (koji mold) used in 
the steamed rice that is goes into making sake is very delicate 
bacteria and the bacteria in natto overpowers it.

A cedar ball, or sugidama, is how you identify a sake brewery. A fresh sugidama is put outside the brewery when new sake is brewed. As the leaves gradually brown they show the age of the sake.

The top floor was a little sake making museum. Below are the women who helped with our tasting and tour. When we decided it would be fun to add a drop of the water the sake was made with to the sake (like you do with whiskey) they joined in on the tasting.

We also took an overnight trip to Aomori which is
a city north of Misawa. On the way we stopped at
the big Buddha.

He is the Great Showa Buddha of Seiryuji. This statute is actually the tallest bronze seated statue of the Buddha in Japan. We were able to go inside the Buddha and the Seiryu-ji Temple to see some exhibits and to explore the grounds,  which were lovely and tranquil.

Working on this disappearing blog makes Florrie
wish she could go back to the Zen garden at on the 
temple grounds. 

Because there was no miracle, and this post has 
been so troublesome, and this is the last picture 
posted the second time the whole blog disappeared,
I am going to post now even though we are still 
in the middle of our adventures with Joanne and 
Alan. I'll try to finish later today or next weekend 
but this is not a promise. Until then 
じゃあまたね (Ja matane or see you later)