Thursday, June 21, 2018

Japan: Hiroshima/Shiniwakuni

 We were sad to leave Nakatsu after being treated so well, but we were excited to see family that I have never met and Mark hadn't seen in 11 years. They also treated us so well! They picked us up and took us to lunch. This was another meal I struggled with (I promise I didn't struggle with eating the entire time) you see that green stuff in the middle? This is where I didn't follow my own rule of trying things. My sister in law gave me her potato salad because she's a saint who didn't want me to pass out from hunger.
After we ate (Japanese style, by the way, aka on the floor) our family led us to this museum that they said we absolutely had to visit. I knew we were going to a bridge that was built with no nails, so I assumed this museum was about that. The museum was super nice, clear a lot of money had been spent on the displays and stuff, and we sat down to watch a movie about the museum. It was an animated movie about a white snake and it honestly didn't make any sense and I was really confused about where the bridge was?? We kept walking through the museum and there were all of these facts about snakes and then a big glass display case of real white snakes just slitherin around. We were all SO confused until finally we realized it was NOT the bridge museum and just a little museum about the white snakes that naturally live in this area of Japan. They are good luck because they ate the mice that were trying to eat the rice way back in the day, so they are super holy. Once we realized it was not the bridge museum and it was a snake museum it made a lot more sense but...there's only so much info that one needs to know about a very specific breed of snake, so we didn't spend a lot of time there and hopefully we didn't offend our relatives. Lost in translation is real! 

After THE museum of the year walked through the LOVELIEST park and splash pad area. It was gorgeous and so fun with little shops and ice cream stands everywhere. It led to this bridge, which I think at one time was built without nails but it for sure had nails in it when we walked over it so... *shrugs* but it's honestly so much bigger than it looks in this picture! Walking up the bumps wore me out. 

 After the bridge and a little ice cream break we traveled back to our relative's extra house (because who doesn't just have an extra house lying around) and got ready for our little baby cousin's first birthday party. I was real stressed because they bought two huge sushi platters that had been sitting in a warm house literally all day.....but I didn't get food poisoning on this part of the trip (lol) so it must have been fine. The cake was so good!

After a fun party, my mother in law and I were dropped off at the laundromat so we could do laundry for the family and I struggled with the Japanese directions, clearly. People don't show the unglam parts of being gone for three weeks, there is no way you can pack enough clothes/underwear/socks so you might have to spend a few hours doing laundry on vacation. 
A culture thing I realized while doing laundry which I had started to notice, Japanese people are a lot more lenient (is that even the right word?) about their children. I saw SO many little babies and toddlers in the front seat, sometimes in a carseat and sometimes not. When we drove the hour to Hiroshima, our little four year old cousin wasn't in a carseat, he was just chillin. Then in the few hours it took to do laundry, the one year old was asleep in the minivan and no one even checked on him nor was he really visible from where we were. It was just super interesting to me, but Japan is a LOT safer than America so maybe it's a non issue!
 The next morning we made the hour drive from Shiniwakuni, where our relatives live, to Hiroshima. This was a pretty intense place and one I would recommend anyone visiting and I wish that all American citizens were forced to visit. I have a history minor and I never, ever was taught Hiroshima accurately or as atrociously as it really was. 
You can see the before/after of this building. Everyone in the building was killed instantly.

 After the bomb, people would run to the river thinking it would help their burns but it made them worse and many drowned in the river.
 They have an extremely thorough museum, unfortunately a lot of it was under construction but they said they got most of the information condensed, we saw a good amount. We spent a lot of time in the video area where survivors shared their stories, it's just horrific and unimaginable. 
Clothes from people that were still very far from the detonation point

This was instant
Because I am a history nerd, this was my favorite thing we did on the trip and something I won't ever forget. I just think that if people visited these places, a lot of what we argue about politics wise would be a non issue. The museum really boils it down to humanity, and humanity and atomic weapons cannot co-exist. It was pretty life changing so I would recommend a visit. 
Also, I know that it's common sense but don't bring a drone to such a peaceful place. My MIL will go AFTER. YOU. HONEY! 

After Hiroshima and our lunch, which consisted of a banana and pringles for me and Japanese pancakes for everyone else, we drove to get onto a ferry (also, if you see this post and are going to Japan, there is a JR ferry that you can use your railpass on!) to go to DEER ISLAND! It's actually called Miyajima. You can read about the deer here. They really just want food and literally don't care about you at all if you don't have food. When we were there, they didn't have any deer cookies that you could buy so maybe the deer were getting sick or something.
On deer island there are SO many shops, restaurants etc it's a total tourist trap but I loved it. It's a fun place.

There is also a Shinto temple here with a gorgeous Torii gate that is over the water. We were trying to make it there earlier so we could see it at high tide. I'm sure it's beautiful all the time!

Okay, so after this the funniest thing happened. We got back on the ferry, got in the car and started driving. We assumed we were going home, but remember it's rude to ask what the plan is. So after not that long of driving, we pulled into a parking lot. We asked where we were and they said an "onsen"
So just to recap from my last post, an onsen is basically just a natural hot water spring. Sometimes they are hot to the point that you can't get in, and sometimes they are like hot tub hot, so it's a big thing in Japan to go in an onsen spa. To do this, you aren't clothed. Japan has this phrase that's basically like "such good friends because you have seen each other naked" and they just have a very different culture surrounding nakedness than America. So when our relatives pulled up to an onsen I thought it was the kind we had gone to a few days before where you just walk around and see it, but no, this was a naked onsen. I cannot imagine what my face looked like when I realized. I maybe would have been game to go if I hadn't 1. been with relatives and 2. wasn't already a spectacle, my naked body would have sent the poor Japanese ladies into a panic!
I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to say no but not be rude because that is a huge thing you have to be careful of when my MIL was like "you don't have to go!!" and saved me! Mark and I and his little brother hung out in the lounge area while everyone went in and then we all ate dinner together in the same building when they were done.  I do want to go in one one day, just alone! and preferably empty! I guess I just want to take a bath. Haha.

We were sad to leave our [fully clothed] family but were reallllly ready to not sleep on the floor and be in a clean hotel, so we headed off to Kanazawa!
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