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Published: June 18th 2019
The train we caught to Kanasawa on Tuesday 11 June was a Shinkansen super express train. The way the embarkation took place was an exercise in military precision and execution. Organisational perfection!
I liked Kanasawa right away. It has an impressive train station and excellent information booth. Be sure to visit it and get your info regarding how to get around the town.
Kanasawa has two rivers which traverse it and are almost parallel to each other. It also has a crisscrossing series of water channels and moats which we often happened upon during our two and a half days stay there. There is so much to see in Kanazawa: Nagamachi (a former samurai district), the lovely streets of Higashi-chaya-gai (where you can visit some former Geisha houses), Teramachi (dozens of temples), Kanasawa Castle Park and the indescribably beautiful Edo period garden Kenroku-en.
The traditional crafts which are available to be admired and bought (porcelain and pottery, lacquerware, silk and gold leaf used for gilding) are too gorgeous for words! I just loved this city and the time we spent there.
We also visited the ill fated city of Hiroshima which has the distinctly unhappy privilege of being the world’s
first city to be subjected to an atomic bomb. Modern Hiroshima is like any twenty first century city. It is a busy and bustling place and its people are engaged in all the usual activities of city dwellers.
Still, I could not escape the pervading sense of disquiet when we walked around its environs.
I had not really wanted to see this place but had been convinced that it was not to be missed.
On Saturday morning, as we planned our activities to fit around another day of rain, I suggested we visit the Memorial Museum first.
I felt a sense of foreboding as we walked down a long darkened corridor towards the start of the exhibition. The rooms held displays of ragged and misshapen objects which had somehow survived the bombing and we read the very sad accounts of how the objects had been found. There were very graphic photographs of survivors with their horrific injuries. There were stories of how people survived the cataclysmic event, or more often how they did not. I found it very hard not to respond on a visceral level. The museum was quite crowded. No one spoke. Faces were grim. I saw a
woman sitting at a seat holding her face in her hands in obvious distress.
The experience was draining but having gone through it I felt profoundly touched.
Afterwards, we had planned to visit the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. Having arrived there we were glad to first tour a garden called Shukkei-en and even though it continued to rain,we spent a good deal of time walking around this beautiful place and feeling a sense of solace return. It was a soothing and quiet way to find some equanimity after the sad morning. Although the garden’s structures had been destroyed by the bomb, many of the trees and plants had survived. It has since been restored to its former splendour and is a must see.
The museum was also a lovely one and featured some lovely wood cuts by modern Japanese artists.
On our last day, the sun returned as we made the journey to Miyajima to visit the famous Torii (shrine gate) of Itsukushima-Jinja. It was a beautiful day to spend strolling along the waterfront and hiking a short way up the mountain to some quieter shrines.
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