It seems that I can’t get myself to finish this Japan blog series, partly because I’m busy studying and partly because I haven’t felt like contributing hours of my scarce spare time for it 😉 Anyway, I’ll wrap it up now, in a sort of concise manner, so I can bring this blog up to speed with the current events.
So, after Fukuoka we traveled to Hiroshima and spent one night there. The city is totally rebuilt after the bombing of 1945, except for one pre-war building which has been left there as a remainder of the horrors of war. Just a few minutes away from the central Hiroshima lies a huge green area, the Peace Park, where you can find the war museum and statues erected for the memory of those who died in the bombing.
Overall, the city has a peculiar atmosphere, somehow slow-paced and a little bit sad. Perhaps the awfully gray weather during our stay contributed to that feeling, but I must say I couldn’t live in a city like that. The downtown is semi-vibrant in the evenings, but the city seemed to lack the same kind of youth culture we experienced in Fukuoka and especially Osaka.
On our second day we made a trip to Miyajima island, a 50 minute tram-ride away from downtown Hiroshima. The island boasted a number of Shinto shrines and an exceptionally nice Buddhist temple. Or at least the temple was in an exceptionally nice location, high up on a mountain with beautiful views.
The largest of the Shinto shrines on the island, called Itsukushima, has a very interesting detail to it. The torii gate, which can be found in front of all Shinto shrines, is actually located in the sea (at least on a high tide). This seemed to be the major tourist attraction there, in addition to the cute bambi-deer, which the island was full of.
From Hiroshima we took another night bus, this time towards the city of Osaka, the third largest city in Japan. From the places I visited during the trip, Osaka was by far the most interesting one. Dotonbori, a former “pleasure district”, is an area filled with shops, restaurants and neon signs. There’s also a canal with a sightseeing boat going about regularly. On the boat, a super-energetic middle-aged travel guide was yelling to her megaphone and clapping her hands wildly, while the passenger sat back in the boat looking quite apathetic. A sight to remember 🙂
Osaka Castle, which was built in the sixteenth century is one of the most important castles in Japan. It’s surrounded by a wide moat and sturdy walls which probably made it a safe place to live during that era 🙂
Osaka Aquarium is one of the largest in the world, and the main tank, which is absolutely huge, is full with small sharks, rays, other fish and whale sharks 🙂 They also have penguins and other animals there (separate tank :P).
From Osaka we flew back “home” to Seoul, and it didn’t take a long time before we found ourselves enjoying some delicious Korean food in a local shabby restaurant 🙂 Japan was great, but it truly felt good to be back in Seoul! =)