Edit Blog Post
Published: March 29th 2014
Since my pass ran out last weekend, this week was spent much more locally. Without the train rides to write on, the days slipped by so I'll just recap briefly here. I still got some sightseeing in, but also had time to study Japanese and catch up on things. I've been following Uncle Ron's Road to Recovery, and I am glad to see that he will be discharged from the second hospital soon. I'll be flying back on his birthday, too, so there's a chance we'll both get home on the same day.
Instead of recapping day by day, I'll just review the more exciting aspects of the week. Studying
After the weekend, I used some time to catch up on rest and to finally get some serious studying in. They say the best way to learn is through immersion, but sometimes you need to hit the books, too. Especially with kanji. I mean, I would feel bad just stopping people to ask what random kanji were. You pick up the ubiquitous ones pretty fast just from going around, though, and I think I was actually able to study kanji after being exposed to them in
day-to-day life. Before I left, I don't think I could have learned as easily. There's something about just seeing them everywhere that the brain starts to be able to pick apart the distinctions. Or maybe my mind just got a wake up call when it realized that the ability to read them could mean the difference between making it to the right train or finding something vegetarian to eat. But anyway, I've learned to recognize 100 just from studying, and I've learned what some of the city places mean, too. Knowing how to pronounce them is the hard part still, as depending on the word or where in the word they are, they have different pronunciations. But I think I'm making progress, and I've been able to use what I've been studying in day-to-day life, which is cool. Hiking
The area right around Ellen's house is actually a lot cooler than I realized. It's just a short walk until you get to all these steep, narrow streets that San Francisco would be jealous of, weaving in and out of houses that seem to be practically built on top of each other as they rise up the
hill. A number of cats roam the alleys and bath in the sunlight atop the rooftops. The architecture is a medley of wood, brick, metal, and stucco, house material as variable as house color is in SF. Just beyond these houses, you can scamper up old, forgotten trails in the mountains. On one hike, I came across a rock formation with a beautiful vista of Kure. Atop the rocks was a tattered Japanese flag, dancing in the wind. At another place, I found a mysterious brick building that seemed to be a family shrine or something, as there were a couple tombstones right outside it. All the little discoveries made hiking in the area a really wonderful experience. On my way down a mountain, I was sliding though the leaves littering the ground and jumping off rocks, enjoying myself, and after jumping off one rock, I landed close to a small-dog-sized, dark animal in the underbrush. I gave it quite the start and it bolted off. It might have been a big cat, but I hope it was something wild, like a tanuki. Going to Hiroshima
I went to Hiroshima this week and walked around the
city. I ended up going to the Peace Museum and learned a lot about the atomic bombing. It was a pretty intense museum with artifacts from victims, including clothes, a burt lunch box, and a deformed tricycle, just to name a few. I already wrote about the peace park from my earlier visit, so I won't go too much into it, but I learned a few interesting facts from the museum.
-I've heard it reported that Kyoto was spared from the fire bombings out of recognition of its rich cultural history. I found out that it was actually one of the potential targets for the atomic bomb, and such potential targets were not bombed so that the effects of the atomic bomb could be observed.
-There were originally 17 cities identified as potential targets, Kure actually being one of them. Later, the list was reduced to 4. Hiroshima was chosen because it was thought not to have POWs, though in reality it did, as well as forced laborers from Korea and China.
-We learned about this in AP US History, but one of the reasons for the atomic bombing was to make sure unconditional surrender was given
to the US and not Russia, who would have invaded Japan 3 months after the Yalta conference, according to the deal struck by Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin. With discord already mounting with the USSR, the US wanted Japan under US control. (Japan then served as a US military outpost during the Cold War.) A British surrender proposal had already been rejected by the Japanese government, which was holding out for a surrender they sought from Russia or a power that would allow for the continuation of the emperor system.
-The Hiroshima Carp were actually originally founded as a municipal team to help in the reconstruction process of the city. They struggled for many years at the bottom of the league until one year the league decided to merge them with another team, to which the city protested. Instead, it was decided that any team below a 0.300 record would be merged with another. The Carp miraculously came in second-to-last, and it was another team that was merged.
-One reason to use the bomb discussed during the Roosevelt administration was to justify its huge cost to the US taxpayers. After spending so much money building the ultimate weapon, they
felt it would be wasted if they didn't use it. While we can easily point out how illogical this is, the fact remains that this is how people think. I think this stands as a strong reason why weapons programs shouldn't be developed. Once it's in our hands, it seems we have trouble letting it sit idly and we manage to find justifications for its use.
On a lighter note, Ellen came to the city after work and we went to Costco to get stuff for this wine and cheese night she's been planning. We got Costco pizza and I made a huge discovery. I got a cheese pizza but then went to the hot-dog condiment stand. I smothered that sucker in onions and then garnished with relish and mustard. There was a mountain of toppings on my pizza. And the thing was it was good! Really good! I recommend it to anyone who eats Costco pizza for dinner. Socializing
We had some of Ellen's friends over for dinner one night and then had a big party with most of her friends last night. We had dinner, wine, and cheese at Ellen's and
played some games, and then went out to a local bar. I sang my first karaoke in Japan. I think the songs I chose were both old school R&B, but we all sang together a lot of the time. It was quite an experience. That night, the floor of Ellen's house was covered with futons and people. In the morning, the remaining members went out to the free local museum about submarines and contemporary minesweeping (peacetime). It was pretty cool. Kure used to be a big naval base during wartime, and remains a large port today.
Well that's all for now. We have one more trip planned for tomorrow, but I leave on Tuesday. Can't believe it's almost over!
Tot: 2.509s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 10; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0512s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb