Well first of all I finally got a cellphone. You can email me short ‘text messages’ for free to email@example.com to brighten up my days, and if for some reason you want the number u can also mail me to ask for that. I can’t receive long emails though. In Japan ppl ‘text’ to emails, unless they are on the same network, as every cellphone has an email address. In other words I text friends who are on Vodafone to their cell numbers, but text other people to their emails. Its a bit confusing, and also a bit silly. This weekend I went to Hiroshima, which involved three new and delightful experiences, the Shinkansen, Baseball, and obviously visiting Hiroshima itself.
Photos of Trains, What Everyone Wants To See
At the risk of making this blog look like a trainspotters website, here are some photos of the Shinkansen. Taking the escalator of dreams up to the platform was like being transported up to the gates of heaven. It was amazing! I was literally leaping around with excitement. There are three types of Shinkansen, with the Nozomi being the fastest and stopping at the fewest stops. This is the white one you can see – the third pic is the one we got. The other, silver one, looks even cooler I think. As it entered the station it was like some mythical beast appearing on the horizon. Inside it was pretty similar to a normal train, but once we got going we went sooo fast. In part the Shinkansen is so quick because the route is an ‘as the crow flies’ route- as such the track goes through several hills and mountains- I get the feeling the planners just got a map of Japan, and drew more or less straight lines from place to place, ignoring everything that was in the way. But it really does fly along- at 300 kph. Just 40 mins later we were in Hiroshima; Hiroshima is further from Okayama west than Kobe is east, and would have taken about 2hrs40mins to get to without Shinkansen Power.
Baseball, The New Football? Maybe Not
The game started about 1.30pm, with the Hiroshima Carps playing a team from near Tokyo. I won’t try to explain the entire rules of baseball here, but as they were new to me it took a while to get into it. There are 9 innings in baseball, and you get a point for each home run you score. If all of the bases of ‘loaded’ (theres a player at each base), and you hit a home run, you get 4 points. Other than that the key was watching for whether the pitcher pitched ‘balls’ (no good) or strikes (good). The trouble was, the best way of telling whether a pitch was good or not was by watching the lights on the scoreboard; I guess unless ur up close then either this or watching the ref is the only way of telling. We won 4-2; hurray! The first inning was good, then the next four or five had no points for either team, so it got a bit slow. After the seventh innings you have whats called ‘7th-inning stretch’, which is a longer break. For Hiroshima Carps fans this means blowing up balloons that, let’s face it, look like sperm, and releasing them all into the air for ‘good luck’. It was so surreal! The game finished at about half 4; it was a great experience, and the ground has a great atmosphere, but it lacked the intensity and excitement of football. Plus although the Carps’ fans were good, they were nothing compared to the nutters we’d seen at Kobe!
A Trip To Hiroshima- What A Blast
Dark humour aside, visiting the A-Bomb Dome was a surreal moment. The first atomic bomb ‘in the history of mankind’, as the plaque declared, was detonated a few hundred metres above what used to be the Hiroshima Industrial Promotion Hall. I thought the experience would be very morbid, and lead to me writing some sort of monologue on the tragedy of the moment and its after-effects. That it was tragic is undeniable, but what was so fantastic about the experience was that, though it was sombre, Hiroshima is now a lively, vibrant city. There was beauty and life all around the wonderful area of Hiroshima near the dome, with Japanese buskers playing below the bridge, and a large sunlit park between the two rivers where buildings had stood before 6 August 1945. It is further to the credit of Hiroshima citizens, and Japan in general, that the tragedy has been transformed into a general cry for peace and nuclear disarmament, rather than a (some might say very justified) attack on the US for dropping the bombs over sixty years ago. The Peace Memorial Museum, near to the Dome, was absolutely outstanding; interactive, interesting, comprehensive and unbiased. It reminded me of the really good Berlin Wall Museum- a really good job. Hiroshima was a great place to visit, and we’ll all certainly go back as theres a lot we didn’t see, including one of Japan’s official ‘three best views’ on a island nearby. It was a bit unnerving, however, to see so many gaijin (foreigners) everywhere- I didn’t like it! Maybe this is a bad sign for when I eventually return to the West!