“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life”
I hope you enjoyed reading the first part of my trip to Japan and now I share with you the remaining part of my trip.
Day 6 – 27th May (Hiroshima)
After a sumptuous breakfast we started for Hiroshima at 8.20 am and reached Hiroshima after two short breaks at 10.30 and 12.45.
We headed for lunch at Raj Curry at 1 pm and we wrapped up lunch by 1.45 and thereafter proceeded to the Hiroshima Dome.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial(Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6th August 1945.Through the efforts of many people including those of the city of Hiroshima it has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing.
Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force created by humankind,it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.
We walked by Motoyasu river and reached the Hiroshima Museum.
There are three floors dedicated to the horrors of nuclear weapons.We started from the 3rd Floor and as we went down the horrors of the atomic bomb unfolded.
Some of the Exhibits in the Museum
I had read so much about the bombing,but seeing all the photographic evidence made the horror heart rending.In the first floor there were some memorabilia you could take home and I bought a fridge magnet and some of my friends bought key chains with their names embossed for ¥ 500.Earlier we also visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a memorial park in the center of Hiroshima, Japan. It is dedicated to the legacy of Hiroshima as the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and to the memories of the bomb’s direct and indirect victims.Thereafter we visited the Children’s Peace monument.
The Story of Sadako.
Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She was two kilometers away from where the bomb exploded. Most of Sadako’s neighbors died, but Sadako wasn’t injured at all, at least not in any way people could see.
Up until the time Sadako was in the seventh grade (1955) she was a normal, happy girl. However, one day after an important relay race that she helped her team win, she felt extremely tired and dizzy. After a while the dizziness went away leaving Sadako to think that it was only the exertion from running the race that made her tired and dizzy. But her tranquility did not last. Soon after her first encounter with extreme fatigue and dizziness, she experienced more incidents of the same.
One day Sadako became so dizzy that she fell down and couldn’t get up. Her school-mates informed the teacher. Later Sadako’s parents took her to the Red Cross Hospital to see what was wrong with her. Sadako found out that she had leukemia, a kind of blood cancer. Nobody could believe it.At that time they called leukemia the “A-bomb disease”. Almost everyone who got this disease died, and Sadako was very scared. She wanted to go back to school, but she had to stay in the hospital where she cried and cried.
Shortly thereafter, her best friend, Chizuko, came to visit her. Chizuko brought some origami (folding paper). She told Sadako of a legend. She explained that the crane, a sacred bird in Japan, lives for a hundred years, and if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, then that person would soon get well. After hearing the legend, Sadako decided to fold 1,000 cranes in the hope that she would get well again.
Sadako’s family worried about her a lot. They often came to visit her in hospital to talk to her and to help her fold cranes. After she folded 500 cranes she felt better and the doctors said she could go home for a short time, but by the end of the first week back home the dizziness and fatigue returned and she had to go back to the hospital. Sadako kept folding cranes even though she was in great pain. Even during these times of great pain she tried to be cheerful and hopeful. Not long afterwards, with her family standing by her bed, Sadako went to sleep peacefully, never to wake up again. She had folded a total of 644 paper cranes.
Everyone was very sad. Thirty-nine of Sadako’s classmates felt saddened by the loss of their close friend and decided to form a paper crane club to honor her. Word spread quickly. Students from 3,100 schools and from 9 foreign countries gave money to the cause. On May 5, 1958, almost 3 years after Sadako had died, enough money was collected to build a monument in her honor. It is now known as the Children’s Peace Monument, and is located in the center of Hiroshima Peace Park, close to the spot where the atomic bomb was dropped.
Children’s Peace Monument
We came out of the Museum at 4 pm and we hurried to board the bullet train for SHINKANSEN ,Osaka from Hiroshima station.
We were waiting for our train at track 13.The train departed at 5.06 pm and the name of the train we took was Nozomi 138( N 700/300 kms per hour).Our coach was 14 and seats 03 ABC to 11 ABCDE.
I managed a window seat.We touched SHINKANSEN at 6.31 pm.
We did some shopping at UNIQLO at the station complex.Though it was a much smaller outlet than the one at Kobe we managed to buy some clothes.I was happy, at last something to take back home, we reached the hotel at 8 pm. Today we had an option of going to the restaurant to eat or get it packed and we decided to get it packed and collected the same from Aditya at the hotel.We opted to get it packed as we wanted to spend time for shopping, later we had a small get together at Alfven & Rachel’s room.We chatted and had our packed dinner and drinks offered generously by Dr Alfven.Thanks a lot Rachel and Alfven for your hospitality.
Day 7 –28th May (Kyoto)
We started for Kyoto after a sumptuous breakfast at 9 am.We met our new guide Fuji San a very enthusiastic and energetic lady full of information.Through out the journey she gave us interesting information about Japan.
The tea ceremony was started in Kyoto in the 6th century.The city is very rich culturally and also an important city.Kyoto, was earlier the capital of Japan, is a city on the island of Honshu. It’s famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, as well as gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. It’s also known for formal traditions such as kaiseki dining, consisting of multiple courses of precise dishes,tea ceremonies and Geishas,( female entertainers often found in the Gion district).The Japanese had occupied Korea and China during the second world war.Kyoto was in the target list by the Americans for the atomic bombing but was taken out due to its cultural importance.The atomic bombing brought an end to the World War.After the war Japan turned into a democratic country.The old people get pension and are well cared by the government.Vietnamese and Chinese were earlier prohibited to work but are now allowed due to the diminishing number of young people.All this information was given to us by our very informative guide Fuji.We reached Kyoto around 11 am. We headed straight to the Kinkaji-The Temple of the Golden Pavilion.
The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in all its majesty is something you must see with your own eyes to believe. Even seeing it in person feels almost unreal, as if you are just viewing a famous painting for the first time. But it is so much more than just art, it is a piece of history that now simply rests in this peaceful pond in Kyoto.
It was raining and a crowd was flocking around the pond but we managed to take some shots of this glorious piece of art it dates back to the 14th century AD.Sadly it was burnt down to ground by a crazy monk but because this temple was too magnificent to disappear, it was rebuild shortly thereafter in all its glory you see today. In addition, in 1994 it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with 16 other locations in Kyoto.The three storeys of the building have a meaning attached to each of them.The top two layers are plated with gold leaf. In short, the bottom level represents the Heian period, the second embodies the Samurai warrior spirit in its details, and the third is the Zen floor.Once you arrive and pass through the gates, the moment becomes surreal. You follow the path through dense woods, and feel as if you are far from civilization. Once you catch a glimpse of Kinkaku-ji’s beauty, it’s hard to look away. The temple sits alone on stilts by a large pond, and if you’re lucky you can see the white birds swimming by the lily pads in the warm sunlight. Despite many distractions, it’s easy to get lost in the moment taking in all there is to see.
As we came out we found the stalls selling flavoured peanuts they let you try for free I loved the Wasabi and the Chocolate peanuts and bought the same for ¥ 380 and a small bottle of Sake with gold dust for ¥700 (We had preserved it for a long time and opened the bottle on New year’s Eve 🙂 )While walking around we saw three waterfalls with statues, you can toss a coin for good luck and fortune.
Thereafter you will reach a large open tea shop where you can drink tea in traditional style but the place was too crowded so we opted out.
We met many local tourist wearing kimonos their hair done up artistically and wore beautiful flowers, some of us managed to click photos with them.
There were groups of school children along with their teachers maintaining strict discipline.
We left the place at 12 pm and headed to have lunch at Ajanta again an Indian restaurant.
After lunch we headed to the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Kiyomizu means clear or pure water.The main hall has a large veranda, supported by tall pillars, that juts out over the hillside and offers impressive views of the city.Beneath the main hall is the Ottowa waterfall, where three channels of water fall into a pond. Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.
The temple complex includes several other shrines, among them the Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Okunnushi , a God of love and “good matches”. Jishu Shrine possesses a pair of “love stones” placed 18 meters (60 feet) apart, which lonely visitors can try to walk between with their eyes closed. Success in reaching the other stone with their eyes closed implies that the pilgrim will find love, or true love.One can be assisted in the crossing, but this is taken to mean that a go-between will be needed. The person’s romantic interest can assist them as well.Visitors can catch and drink the water, which is believed to have wish-granting powers.
There were about 120 steps to the temple and lots of shops on both sides for tourists to shop.I bought Japanese sweets called Matcha made of green tea (250 gms for ¥300)
Thereafter we visited the famous Nara Deer park. Established in 1880 there are about 1000 friendly deer.You can buy deer biscuits(shika-senbei) for ¥150. Feeding them will reward you with a gracious bow from the deer but some of them if they see the crackers in your hands try to take it from you and maybe bite too so be careful while feeding them.We didn’t tire playing and taking photographs with them.
Nara Deer Park
We also visited the Ashoka Pillar and Ashoka Chakra.It was erected on the occasion of the ‘All Japan Young Buddhist Assocation’s Thousand-Priests’ Service at the Hana Matsuri celebration on April 26, 1988. The service was attended by more than 1,700 priests of different sects.
The Ashoka Pillar & Ashoka Chakra
By the time we reached the Todaji Temple we were disappointed to find it was about to close hence we were denied entry.The closing time is 5.30 pm and the entry fees is ¥600.We were very disappointed some from the group did make it but got just 10 mins which is not sufficient to see this magnificent temple.
The Todaji Temple
We left around 5.45 for dinner and reached at 6.30 pm at Mayur Restaurant.We finished dinner by 7.30 pm and reached the hotel at around 8 pm.Today was the last day at Osaka so we browsed around the convenience stores and bought some eatables for our long journey by road to Tokyo.
29th May (Osaka-Tokyo)
We checked out of the hotel and took some last minute photos.It was going to be a long and boring journey of 720 kms and would be covered in 8-9 hours.We had two breaks according to rules.
Aditya our tour manager promised to show us a movie and play Housie and a Game of Cricket sitting in our seats.Surprised ? Even I was but enjoyed playing.The bus was divided into two groups bowling and batting,the game was really interesting and needless to say our side won.The rules were interesting although I cannot recollect them now.
Didn’t win a penny while playing Housie but enjoyed playing and watching the movie 3 Idiots although everyone had seen it for the umpteenth time Aditya also promised a surprise if we have time.So we were delighted when the coach stopped at 4.30 pm at the Shizouka Peace Park.,Gotemba. There is a chalk white Stupa, a mound like structure that contains the relics related to the Buddha, located in the center of the park.
It is the symbol of the park that is situated on the mountainside of the outer rim of Hakone. The late Indian Prime Minister Nehru presented some of Buddha’s ashes, which are now kept inside the Stupa along with four golden images of Buddha. Along with the structure there is the Buddhist Monastery of Nihonzan Myohoji Temple where 33 Kannon, goddess of mercy, images are housed.
The Garden inside the Peace Park
In addition, there is a Japanese garden with a pond located in the peace park.We got just half an hour and we left at 5 pm.It was indeed a nice surprise so green and peaceful wish we could spend some more time.We reached around 6 pm to Asakusa and headed for dinner at Aryas.
After dinner we checked into Marrod International Hotel,Narita. After checking in and as promised by our tour guide Fuji-San she helped us wearing Kimonos and also clicked photos for us. Very cheerfully and happily she helped all the 43 guests in the group to wear the Kimonos and was still chirpy and full of energy.By the time my turn came it was past 10 pm.After thanking Fuji San for doing such a wonderful job I retired to my room since I was very tired after the long journey,while Jessy stayed back to spend time with the others.
30th May (Return Home)
After relishing our last breakfast in Japan a shuttle Bus took us to the airport.We finished web check in and immigration by 9 am our flight was at 11 am. So there was plenty of time to shop.Bought some chocolates with special ice packing for ¥820.I had to finish the remaining yen so bought Matcha cheese biscuits (¥1320) which turned out to be delicious and two good luck charm kitties(fridge magnets) I could manage with the remaining money in my Niyo Card.The flight was slightly delayed and it finally took off at 11 am.We were mersmerised by the ethereal beauty of Mt Fuji from the aircraft.
During the trip I observed that we didn’t find any birds like pigeons and crows or any kind of stray animals in Japan.The cities are so spick and span I guess there is no role of pigeons or crows.The trees on the roadside are pruned to exact height and the leaves were so clean they were shinning as if each leaf has been polished.I felt as if nature was also managed by this hi-tech country.The Japanese are very disciplined and quiet not boisterous as we Indians. My experience of the excellent Japanese hospitality was marred by a single incident of rude behaviour in one of the hotels we were staying. I was happily sitting and enjoying my breakfast and the view from my table when I was asked to get up from my breakfast table and told to sit elsewhere without any explanation ( for a Japanese man) It was kind of an order not a request.This has never happened to me before in any of my travels in any country I visited earlier.
We enjoyed the gracious hospitality of the Japanese with plenty of food ,drinks and refreshments in the aircraft. Matcha Icecream was served as dessert.We landed 40 mins before schedule the flight was 9 and half hours as opposed to the 8 hours we flew while going.The extra time was because we were flying against the wind as explained by our tour manager.Immigration and baggage was a breeze but we got stuck without a cab.We had booked an Ola which got cancelled and they refused to book one as there were no cabs available,Uber had a waiting time of 30 mins and the prepaid ones were asking for exorbitant rates.Finally Jessy gave a call to her regular cabbie fellow and he arranged one.We sat in the cab and heaved a sigh of relief.My family was worried but when I called up and told them the problem they understood and were waiting for me with a hot cup of tea and warm dinner.Nothing like home sweet home.We surely missed the hi-tech washrooms of Japan.All the hotels and even public toilets were the same.We were kind of spoilt during our stay in Japan.The hotels were good and had a superb layout for breakfast though being a non-vegetarian but not eating beef and pork but still there was a lavish spread out, as compared to European countries.I thank Neem Travels and Aditya our tour manager for doing an excellent job.The rest of the group was also friendly and co-operative.A big thank you to Jessy,Shiby,Alfven,Rachel,John and Aditya for the beautiful photos. Jessy’s blog on My Journis helped me fill in the gaps.
“ Travel before you run out of Time”
Tips for Travel
- If you book an all expenses paid trip then 10000 yen is enough.In addition we all carried the Niyo International card and I transferred INR 5000.If any money left in your card that can be used in your further travels or you can transfer it back to your account.Although I didn’t need to as I had spent all the money.
- You can activate your International calling and you have to pay only if you make a call. on a post paid billing.I had made two calls and an extra 300 was added to my bill.
- For good photos carry a good camera which I regretted mobile phones sometimes don’t get you good pictures.
- I missed the Cherry blossom season since the season is a very short one Early April is the season in most of the cities but it costs more about 35000-40000 depending on the tour company you book with.
- If you are an avid Trekker then trekking to Mt Fuji is from early July- early September.So you can either see the Sakura flowers or climb the Mountain.Plan your trip according to your interest.We did neither but yet enjoyed the trip
Source : Wikipedia