On the cribbage front Andy and I are in an even 6 win tie. I got off to a slow start and lost 5 in a row! Can’t believe I’m even telling you this. Well, we finally had some time to kick back and relax and catch up on the blog. Traveling from place to place every 3 or 4 days is work, but we have enjoyed seeing the sights of Kyoto and visiting the City of Peace, Hiroshima. Right at this instant we are on a ferry to Hokkaido, the north island of Japan and I am anticipating the nice cold weather. The ferry has been a treat as we have enjoyed napping and bathing in the public bath that they have onboard (see picture its Andy’s favorite so far).
The garden city of Kyoto struck us as a quiet place for being as big as it is. The train station took us half a day to explore in itself, but as soon as we got on a side street we were greeted with a calming silence. While staying in hostels we met many travelers from a variety of places including Italy, Taiwan, London, the U.S. and Canada. Kyoto is a touristy place and we did our fair share of shrine hopping. A highlight for me was renting bikes for a day. We rode along the path of philosophy, saw the gold pavilion of Kinkakuji, stopped by the Imperial Palace, enjoyed beers by the canal and went for a night walk in the garden shrines near Gion. Strolling through the orange tori gates at Fushimi Inari Taisha I realized I would hate to be the painter who has to upkeep some 30,000 gates that line the trail. We took a side trip to the town of Nara where deer are revered to the point that deer cookies can be purchased and you can feed the deer! Can you imagine if elk cookies were fed to elk in Estes Park? We visited the giant Buddha and were not sure if we were more impressed with the building that held the giant Buddha or the statue itself. Long, full days encompassed us in Kyoto and I’m glad we saw the sights and we were ready to move on to Hiroshima.
August 6, 1945 was promising to be a nice day when the sun rose on the city of Hiroshima. People worked diligently to make fire breaks in the city and perform other duties in anticipation for U.S. air bombings. Nothing could prepare them though for what was about to happen. At 8:15 in the morning the Enola Gay flew over the city, fixed its sites on a T-shaped bridge in the middle of the city and dropped the first atomic bomb in history. Instantly the city was set afire, buildings obliterated and thousands of people perished, others suffered from life threatening wounds and more yet would develop diseases in the coming years that would ultimately take their lives. More than 140,000 people were lost from one single bomb. This is the story we learned as we toured around Peace Park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which was stands at the epicenter of where the bomb was dropped. It was surreal for us to stand on the new T-shaped bridge, adjacent to the atomic dome building that still remains as a tribute and imagine the bomb going off and a mushroom cloud enveloping the city. Many people believed the area would be a wasteland and nothing would grow in the area again for 75 years. This prediction was wrong because now Hiroshima is alive and jumping and is a flag of peace. The city has not forgotten it’s past and promotes itself as a city of peace and adamantly opposes any development or use of nuclear weapons. In fact, every mayor since 1968 has written letters of protest to any country developing, testing or possessing nuclear weapons. All the letters were on display at the museum and sadly the last 10-15 were to Obama for the “Z-Machine” and 1 to North Korea. The museum educated us on the events, but did not cast blame on any side. The main purposes were to inform about the harm and use of nuclear weapons and to fight against them at the same time. In the center of Peace Park a flame burns that they say will not be extinguished until all nuclear weapons are dismantled. Let’s hope we see that day.
Our next destination is a town near Bifuka in northern Hoakkaido, where we will Wwoof on a dairy farm for a week or so. Exciting news! We are headed to Nepal on October 15th! We fly from Sapporo (don’t worry we will enjoy the beer before we go) to Kathmandu.