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Published: November 29th 2006
What better way to follow up the Turkey day festivities than with a weekend trip to view the changing leaves in Hiroshima? Vania, Debra, Melissa and I met up early Saturday morning at the Dunkin Doughnuts in Matsuyama to do exactly that. Yes, they have dunkin doughnuts, betty crockers, and mc d's here. No wonder they think we are all supposed to be uber fat. Anyways, a coffee later and we were riding the long ferry to Hiroshima across the Inland Sea. And not just any ferry. This one was like a mini cruise ship, with a cocktail counter and snack shop, large screen tv's to watch the news in every language, comfy lounge chairs, and of course Vania and I had to test out the massage chairs on the 2nd level.
Once in Hiroshima we made a quick stroll through the Peace Park to see the Eternal flame, memorials, and the infamous dome. A half hour tram took us the to ferry port where we boarded yet another ferry to finally reach Miyajima, along with 10,000 other Japanese. Most of them were dressed up for photos with the Torii gate and left me feeling underdressed for the occasion. At least
I was warm.
Lunch was an ordeal. We entered a certain establishment at lunch hour, so of course it was packed. But everyone stared at me, being the only blonde caucasian in my group and in the entire place. 4 other tables seated after us were served before us. Still waiting for our orders to be taken, the kimono-clad women from a neighboring table pulled a waitress over to ask her to help us. You know its bad when the other Japanese notice the treatment. Oh, well, such is the life of a blonde. Our food was great. We had the oysters Miyajima is famous for.
The floating Torii gate is an amazing site. It was difficult to snap a shot without the other crowds creeping into the frame, but I understand now why there were so many crowds. The bright orange of the Torii gate reflected against the blue sea and flaming colors of changing leaves in the hills behind was breathtaking.
We hiked up the mountain a bit, but just a bit. Just caught the last ropeway up the mountain to the summit where normally you can spot monkeys and get a great view of the inland sea
ready to catch the tram
Debra, Melissa, Vania, and me
with Hiroshima as a backdrop. Instead we had missed the sunset and could make out the city lights of Hiroshima becoming bright. No monkeys for us. Just a long line to catch a ride to the bottom. But there were some great signs about NOT feeding the monkeys (that we didn't see). Can you tell I am disappointed??
Back in Hiroshima we found the Okonamiyake tower with 3 (or 4?) stories of Okonamiyake shops. This food is great. It's like a huge omelet but with soba noodles (Hiroshima style; yes, Ethan, it's better than what we had by my house!), shrimp or other meat, eggs, and whatever else you want to add. The cook prepares it on a huge table right in front of you and the places are all very grungy but cool. Kind of like an old school Itchiban's without all the fuss and show. Later we strolled along a main street all lit up for Christmas. We were among many Japanese also taking Christmas pictures for thier cards and families. Finally, before turning in for the night I attempted to buy everyone some hot cocoa from a vending machine (you can get hot drinks here in Japan
taking a look
It only appears that I am all alone on the lookout towards the Otorii
from the machines). After putting in all my money and hitting the button 3 times, I pulled out my loot only to find the machine had given me 3 cans of CORN SOUP!!! While dad might have been pleased with this outcome, to me it was a fiasco. I had to hunt down another machine for a real hot cocoa before finally hitting the hay.
Sunday was a trip to Shukkeien Garden to see more of the wonderful colors in the trees. The rain didn't stop us. Just a little wet. Finally we were ready to start for home, this time on the express ferry. Much less comfy than the first, but only 1 hour instead of 2.
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