Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hiroshima - Lonely Planet Strikes Again

In the morning, I set off - albeit reluctantly - to Hiroshima. In the ticket reservation line, the old man in front of me was kind enough for some reason to let me go before him, even though I wasn't in any sort of hurry. I felt guilty, because after serving me, the counter closed and the guy had to wait over half an hour until the next counter opened. Sucker! You could tell he regretted it, because a woman tried to sneak in front of him and he sharply reprimanded her.

Seven hours later (why does it always take seven hours for the train rides?) I arrived in Hiroshima. I was a bit nervous, even though I've heard only good things about it. But still - we destroyed the place! So far, though, they've been the nicest people in Japan - everyone greets me on the streets as I pass, and they're all extremely helpful.

The hostel was rather far away from the station, but Lonely Planet highly recommended it, and even though they suck at directions, their recommendations are always spot-on. What I didn't count on was the walk taking over an hour, and since this is the most southerly point of my trip, it's outrageously hot.

Finally I got to the hostel, soaking wet. Luckily they had a room open. Turns out it was worth the walk, because this place is amazing. It's called a hostel and the prices are hostel prices, but it's pretty much a hotel. I've got a private room and bathroom nicer than my room back in Aomori. Not only that, but the lounge has a vending machine with about 20 different flavors of ice cream. And if the mint chocolate chip is any indication, I'm going to be spending all my money on this stuff.

Since I hadn't eaten anything since the day before, I immediately set off to the nearest restaurant. According to the bible, it was on the second floor of the Clover Building. But when I got there, I learned that, of course, the Clover Building was some sort of fitness center on all four floors, and the woman at the front desk had never heard of the restaurant I was searching for. Bravo, Lonely Planet. You never miss an opportunity to disappoint. So I just went to the next restaurant, which was Italian.

I know most people don't go to Japan for Italian food, but they should. I can't believe how delicious this food was. I had some sort of pasta with a cream sauce and huge chunks of snow crab mixed in. I'm going to have to resist temptation to go back and get it every meal.

I then strolled around the Peace Memorial Park. It was dusk, but even without that, it would have been extremely beautiful. All over the park are small monuments to those who died from the bomb. In the center of the park, there's a small reflecting pool with an eternal flame that won't be shut off until the last nuclear weapon on Earth is destroyed. The pool had tons of fresh flowers left by it, and I saw a few people stop to pray on their way back from work.

At the end of the park is the A-Bomb Dome. Essentially, it's a building with a dome on top, and the bomb detonated almost directly above it, preserving the frame of the dome. It stays lit even at night, which makes it even eerier.

After that, I just came back to the hostel (I swear it wasn't just for more ice cream). And now I'm laying in bed with a hot mug of free green tea, flipping back and forth between Die Hard 3 in Japanese and Sister Act 2 in English. Try and tell me it doesn't get any better than this, just try to!

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