Morning was kind of a blur. I gave Rosemarry her music box, which she was excited about. We had a decent breakfast in their dining hall (only the things that looked like big tater tots were actually fried squid). We reboarded the Shinkansen. It was still raining, and my shoes were still wet.
Our first stop was the ferry to Miyajima, where we’d go and see 厳島神社 (Itsukushima Shrine). The ferry ride gave us a long look at the mist-covered morning mountains, as well as a glimpse of the famed torii gate, before we landed. The walk to the shrine proper took some time, and like in Nara, there were free-roaming deer everywhere. They weren’t creatures of god here, though, so no one sold sembei for them (meaning they ate whatever they could, usually paper products).
The torii was massive, and stood proudly from the water, but we couldn’t go see it up close because the tide wasn’t out yet. The shrine itself was classic; a unidirectional path angled around like a serpent, allowing for great photos. There was even a wedding going on — those people must have had great wealth or importance.
Afterward, Ashe’s low blood sugar kicked in, so she and Rosemarry were rushed away by Nou-sensei to the ferry, leaving us to kill time by wandering the area. When she finally returned, we were rushed out of the shrine’s vicinity. However, the tide had since gone out, giving us a rare opportunity to walk down to the torii. When I say it was gargantuan, I am not doing it justice. The gate is unbelievably massive, and is an architectual marvel; I honestly can’t imagine how awe-inspiring it must have been to the ancient Japanese who visited for the first time. We took photos (video for Warren), and had I not been so waterlogged and encumbered, I would have stayed there longer, just marveling.
A quick ferry ride, a train, and some soggy walking put us at our next stop: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, aka the Atomic Bomb Dome. Formerly a product display center for new technologies, it largely survived the blast due to its proximity to the explosion’s eye, as well as the large number of windows that allowed the air blast to pass through rather than demolish. The ruin still stands, preserved as a reminder of what war and its tools can do. You can’t go in, but you don’t need to; its significance is clear even after all these years.
We walked across the Peace Memorial Park, stopping to look at the Children’s Peace Monument, the Peace Flame (an eternal flame), and the Memorial Cenotaph — if you stand just right, you can look through the Cenotaph and see the Peace Flame and Bomb Dome in a straight line. Our main stop was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It’s an impressive building that very neutrally explains Hiroshima’s full history and the part it played in wars (not just WWII), the invention of the atomic bomb, and the lead-up to its detonation in Hiroshima. It also has models of the city before and after, as well as photos of the destruction, aftermath, and rebuilding. From there, it very non-neutrally reminds people of the horros of nuclear weapons, and urges disarmament. The last section has artifacts from after the blast, including warped roof tiles, buckled iron doors, shards of glass embedded in stone, and metal, and finally clothing and personal possessions of people who died in and shortly after the blast. The items belonging to children affected me the most, and when I was finished looking through that exhibit, I needed a few minutes before I was okay again. I took no photos in that section.
We finished our day with a streetcar ride back to the station (courtesy of Nou-sensei, who most likely realized we were all worn down by fatigue, lack of sleep, and pervasive dampness) and a series of trains back to Osaka and our hotel. We even got our old rooms back. As soon as we’d dragged our luggage out of their storage room and back upstairs, I emptied my most-certainly-not-waterproof backpack and put everything that was even damp into it (not just clothes, but things like my camera cases!) and hoofed it down to the newer laundromat past the shoutengai I’d found early on. I had no change, so asked the only other person there if there was a machine to make change (only I don’t know how to say “make change” in Japanese, so I had to improvise). Her response: “There’s a vending machine outside.” That would be the aforementioned ramune-in-a-metal-bottle machine, and was one of the rare 100円 deals. Ramune in hand, I threw everything except my shoes into a bigass dryer and set it to go for a full cycle. Meanwhile, the place also had a shoe-washer/dryer setup (the former much like a small washer with huge brushes, the latter looking like a microwave, but with huge prongs). I jammed my still-wet shoes into the dryer and listened to my Nano until everything was done. By then, it was only sprinkling. I packed everything into the now-dry backpack except my shoes, which I held under my umbrella as I walked back to the hotel in sandals.
It wasn’t long before everyone collapsed into bed. By then, Osaka and the U-Community Hotel felt like home to us.