Summer Trips: Hiroshima and Miyajima

Miyajima!

In July Thomas and I decided that we needed to get out of Niihama for the weekend. So on a 3-day weekend we headed to Hiroshima and Miyajima. We had a lot of fun!

We took the express train from Niihama to Okayama and then the Shinkansen from Okayama to Hiroshima. It was the first time that Thomas was taking the Shinkansen so it was really exciting for him and I always enjoy a trip on the bullet train. When we walked into the train though, the ticket came out of my pocket and losing your train tickets in Japan is a pretty big deal. You have to keep all the tickets until you arrive to your destination and feed them to the machine so the door opens for you. So I spent half the trip from Okayama to Hiroshima walking up and down the train looking for my tickets. I got lucky and found them on the floor. I really got lucky because if I hadn’t found them chances are that I would have had to pay for the train again.

Our hostel was really close to the station so for the first night we checked in, went to get some yakisoba for dinner and had an early night sleep.

Thomas in Miyajima.

On our first full day we headed to Miyajima. Miyajima is one of my favourite places. The island is so beautiful and is always fun to see the people struggling with the deer who are not afraid of anything or anyone.  We walked around and took lots of pictures. The tide was high so it was the perfect day to take pictures. Since it was a long weekend the place was packed with tourists! We also went into the shrine and enjoyed walking through it. It was extremely hot though, so we stopped to have lunch and had Miyajima’s specialty: oysters.  Miyajima is also great for souvenir shopping. Miyajima has to my knowledge the best collection of kokeshi dolls. These are traditional wooden dolls. They are carved and have different kimono designs. Last time I was in Miyajima with my mom I bought one and now is in my room in Canada. This time, Thomas and I bought some to take home in our trip to Canada later on in the summer.  Miyajima also has one of my favourite Japanese sweets: momiji. These are deep-fried maple leaf shaped confectionary made of flour, rice powder, and buckwheat, filled with many different things. My favourites are the ones filled with chocolate, matcha and cream cheese. The best ones are the ones that get freshly made there and are filled with cream cheese. So naturally I had to have one. After doing some shopping, eating lots of yummy food and enjoying a lovely summer day we headed back to Hiroshima. It was such a hot day though so I fell asleep almost immediately after getting into the train. Upon getting back into the city, we freshened up and went out for dinner and had Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a cabbage pancake. I know it doesn’t sound appetizing but is so good! Hiroshima style okonomiyaki has udon or soba noodles at the bottom and the cabbage is mixed with corn, cheese and bacon pieces. It is huge, but I have been able to eat the whole thing on my own. We had a great dinner, and then headed to a local bar. After a couple of drinks we headed back to our hostel and had a good night sleep.

On the second day, we headed to the Hiroshima peace museum. Never a fun place to visit but is important to see it and to learn from

Umbrellas outside a shop in Miyajima

past mistakes. I have been there four times already and I always learn something new and come out with tears in my eyes. Unfortunately I don’t think the world has learned its lesson, or if it has they have forgotten it and the threat of a nuclear war is always present in our lives. Coming out I was a bit teary eyed, but there were some nice Japanese high school students doing a survey outside the museum, so I began to feel better.

After a little bit of cig city shopping and a nice lunch it was time to head back. The return home was not that fun. It was a long weekend and everyone was returning home and we didn’t have reserved seats in either the Shinkansen or the express train to Niihama that meant that we had to stand for most of the way. By the time we arrived home I was exhausted. Except for the train back home, the trip was amazing. It was exactly what we needed after having a coupe of very stressful weeks and we enjoyed our time together. It was a great way to spend our long weekend!

Greetings from Miyajima.

Fans outside a shop.

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Summer 2011

This past summer was as per usual extremely hot in Niihama. Many a nights I was unable to sleep from how incredibly hot it was, also the spiders, cockroaches and centipedes come out by the throngs at summertime and you must be vigilant at all times! This year I am proud to say that no cockroaches were found in my apartment.

Rice fields filled with water in summertime.

Summer is a ton of fun though! Everyone comes out from hibernating during winter and there are a lot of BBQs, trips and events. This past June I went to the Yukata party and was able to wear a beautiful blue yukata and enjoyed a nice afternoon with some people who returned home later on in the summer. Thomas took part of one of his school’s softball team and hit a couple of home runners! We joined the team over for dinner at the end of the day and spent a fun night with some very nice Japanese folks.

Mingh and I at the Yukata Party

This past summer however, was also pretty rough for me. At the end of June I was stopped by the local police officer for a malfunction in my vehicle and upon looking at my driver’s license I noticed that it had expired. That landed me at the police station for 7.5 hrs and it became by far the worst time while I’ve been living in Japan. The following days were some of the most stressful days I have experienced, I think in my whole life. The expired license was an oversight in my part but being so far away from home and not being able to understand what the officer was telling me was the worst part. The whole event left me with no driving privileges and having to bike to all of my lessons at 35C weather, plus humidity. It was really NOT fun. At the same time I didn’t want to leave. So I did my best waiting for the 7 weeks until my trip to Canada where I would be at home with my mom, family and friends and would then be able to speak to them and get a better perspective over the whole situation.

I can say that 5 months later things look much better on my end. I quit my job due to many reasons, but the main one was because after the traffic violation incident I had had more than enough. I was able to find a job with a different company. I had an interview and the next day I landed the job. Everyone I work with has been very helpful and professional. The company has helped me out with all legal and personal matters and everything is much more clear. I am still waiting to be called in to court to pay my fine which I imagine will be hefty, but personally I am in a much healthier environment so I know everything will be solved in the best possible way.