Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Basically there is very little to say on my last day in Kyoto -- we wandered through the Imperial Palace, which was largely blocked off, and sat in the manga museum and then a cafe. Pretty laid back, I wish there was more to say about the Imperial Gardens but there really isn't. I tried my first Rocomoco from a street vendor, which I guess is news. It was poor quality though, basically just hambaagu, an egg, and some rice. When it's done right there should be a special cream sauce and it is supposed to be amazing, so I will have to try again. Also worth mentioning: Kyoto subway did not line up for us this time, so maybe it is only a Kyoto Station phenomenon. Also the night bus was nicer than the last one, slightly wider seats and softer cushions, though I had issues sleeping due in large part to my seat partner (which is where I will leave this). I totally expected it to be much worse, though, so I was pleasantly surprised.

On to Hiroshima! Despite being in a bad mood when we got there, the city is gorgeous and I couldn't stop staring at it even from the bus. We wandered around and found a local peace shrine, then wandered away and eventual made it to the Peace Park...where we spent most of the morning. So much to see there! A lot of it was really pretty, the dome was pretty horrific and magnificent. The various colored cranes (they are on a few shrines) were really lovely to see. The Korean memorial even had paper turtles! We also checked out the Peace Museum. The most catching part of it was the architecture, a spiral downwards through stone, much like the Holocaust Museum in DC, and then a hallway leading up into like...reading rooms? It is sort of odd. As for the exhibits, they were pretty repetitive and straight-forward...really make the heart ache. You start by descending into a large circular room with a mosaic of the ruined Hiroshima as it was after the attack, made of 140,000 to represent the 140,000 dead. There is also a map or two of Hiroshima at its peak. Following...there were consoles where you could look up names of those that died due to the bombs, then a room where you can read testimonies from survivors. The last part was a library filled with more information about both the dead and the survivors. It was a rather small museum, but packs a punch.

We kind of did very little after this until the evening, when we went to get OKONOMIYAKI! For some reason I have been looking forward to this more than any other part of the trip, so it was a real joy to finally get down to it. We went to a place nearby, the most famous, called Okono-mura (Okonomiyaki Town). It is a building, kind of a mall, of restaurants specializing in Okonomiyaki! It is amazing. We went to a place on the third floor (it was the second furthest from the stairs on the right) that was amazing. I guess I don't really know how they all compare, I kind of want to go back and I kind of don't want to. Basically they are all huge and about 1000Yen ($10). In Tokyo they are typically smaller affairs, and about 500Yen...though not nearly as good. I ordered mine with Kimchi, so it was really interesting and tasty. I didn't think I would be able to finish at first, really, but I did. Afterwards I wanted a victory snack, so I got something called a Chocobou from a bakery -- it is basically a high end devil dog on a stick. Chocolate covered chocolate cake with a swirl of vanilla cream. I found it hilarious they put an ice pack in the box with it to keep it cool for me, but it was rather tasty.

Anyway, we kind of don't know what we are going to do tomorrow. I don't really know what there is to explore, besides a museum, and maybe some shopping districts. We wandered a LOT. Quite frankly, neither of us have much of a plan for Kobe and Nagoya either -- basically all I know is that we should eat a lot in both places, and try to see Kobe City Hall at night? We'll see what happens!

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