Sunday, July 13, 2008
It was later that we heard about this hell, through the voices of a male and female survivor, one who was in junior high school, and the other who was an elementary school teacher at the time of the bombing. G kicked off the interviews, asking a few questions he had prepared, and the elementary teacher, who you would not have known was 82 years old, particularly appreciated this. I could tell that at times, there was ground which was painful and difficult for both survivors, and I also quizzed them about difficult topics such as reconciliation and responsibility which they also found somewhat difficult.
Yesterday, when we arrived in Nagasaki, we had spent the afternoon touring the peace museum, the hypocentre and the peace park, so by the end of this afternoon, G and I were quite tired out. This place is full of history, and is also quite spectacular, so we enjoyed just spacing out at a restaurant overlooking the bay and ferries this evening.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
We hopped on our bullet train at 12.30, to be spirited away through Hiroshima, and on, under the ocean through a tunnel to the third main island we have managed to visit in our time here so far, Kyushu. By 2.40pm we were in Fukuoka, and made our way to a school visit by 3.30pm. Another school visit this morning at a Jesuit school similar to the one I am now working, and then we were free for the afternoon. Considering the heat, we decided to make for Fukuoka`s network of underground shopping, under the suburb of Tenjin, until it cooled a little. We enjoyed browsing the basements of the big department stores like Daimaru and Mitsukoshi, where we were rewarded with taste tests of jellys, cakes and even freshly prepared coffee.
The food in Japan has been an ongoing revelation - smoking allowed in most restaurants has managed to turn us off quite a few times, and we have decided `family` restaurants (beer and hamburger meat) are best avoided. Today, for lunch, we decided to try a place just over the road from our hotel, a tiny one man show, which turned out to serve the best Yakisoba, and one serve at 500 yen (less than $5) served G and I easily!
Finally today, we took a JR line ( on our passes) out of the city, and then had to change once and then onto a private line for one station - on a recommendation from one of the teachers at the first school we visited, we went to a place called Mitoma, north of the city. Here after an amazing 10 minute walk, we discovered largely deserted white sand beach, where G swam and ran with abandon, and we practised our stone throwing technique. By 6.45pm, we decided the sun had sunk far enough, had our misadventure with a family restaurant and returned home, only regretting the lack thus far of bath houses.
so much green, was a real highlight, after the smoky, crowded subways in Tokyo. But more than that, the highlight was seeing friends, and for G, making friends. G met Shun, and after the first night, the initial nervousness of not speaking each other`s language melted away, especially when the two of them took each other on in chess.
G gave Shun a Kangaroos T-shirt, his favourite team, and then they both wore them the next day to church.
It was fantastic to see so many other friends there, and we were welcomed back, many of them saying how little things had changed. The one thing that had changed was the children, who have grown up! H, who was a Junior High student last time we were here, took us to the river near Oyu, prawn hunting, and they captured 6 or 7 prawns in an hour. We had a BBQ later that night, and discovered a couple of versions of Shogi (Japanese Chess). We stayed out at Oyu the second night, in an amazing farmhouse - thanks to all from Nakamura Fukuin Church.
This morning we said goodbye to the M's. We loved spending the time with them - especially the younger two who have very developed personalities -J (4 years) is a pickle (cheeky ratbag) who faffs around (loves an audience - and is very cute), J (6 years) also has a lovely sense of humour. B (8) is an empathetic soul who has a gift for lego robotics, A (mum) has issues with the toaster (which was australian) and M (dad) is (along with A) is inspirational in the way he believes they are to enrich the community in which they live. M also volunteers and trains red cross first aid people in the area in his spare time. I had no idea he loved that so much.
We hope to walk along the Thames tomorrow - we saw the miniature version of most of the sights yesterday at Legoland (detailed - and infinitely more manageable) and also flew over it on the way to Heathrow on Wednesday. Today i've managed to stay out of too much sun after getting sunburnt at legoland (and bottles of sunscreen are £15 in london!). Tomorrow afternoon we fly to Holland - I am sooo looking forward to seeing the R family there.
Tonight we are off to stay in the Clink Hostel in KC - the old magistrates court complete with cells for bedrooms (L's request). The place we left our bags this morning resembled the room of requirement (Harry Potter) where things can be hidden forever. I hope they will be found when we get there in 15 mins. I think Clink may complete my picture of London as a little claustrophobic.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Today we met Kiyo and K in Harajuku, which we explored for a little while, coming across some dog kimonos and some pancakes, as well as some threatening police, due to the G8 summit being on at the moment in Hokkaido. Apparently that might make the populace restless in Tokyo, so the police are out in force, holding on to their batons and making threatening poses. (a bit like Ultraman on the top floor of Loft, a variety store in Shibuya). After we had walked to Shibuya, we met the four boys and teacher from my school, who are actually here for the World Children's Summit, which was also held in Hokkaido. They had had a great time from all accounts - we took them to do some shopping and then out to a 'family' restaurant - family stands in this case for a good variety of food at a good price! (and in a modern Japanese style) At the end of this time, we were able to experience 'the' intersection at Shibuya, which I hope comes up in this post, for your enjoyment - sorry, I think I moved too fast... basically there were a lot of people!
Tomorrow morning? Up at 5am, to get to Shinagawa station in South Tokyo to catch the bullet train, which will be in Shinagawa for exactly 1 minute. Woebetide us if we are late! By 3.30pm we hope to have proceeded south as far as Okinawa on Honshu and then across the inland sea on an impressive bridge to Kochi Prefecture on Shikoku. This is where we lived for 2 years. We will be staying with friends in Nakamura for the next two nights - I may be away from internet...
Thursday, July 03, 2008
This park is the equivalent of Woolloomooloo I think in Sydney. We did stop to talk to a couple of the guys living there and they enjoyed talking. They had a couple of kittens and were sitting next to the big lake, which is full of green weeds and giant Koi (Carp). We saw lots of shrines and two temples. Photos now here!