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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"Today's public figures can no longer write their own speeches or books, and there is some evidence that they can't read them either." - Gore Vidal


Japan trip
Day 11 - 16th June - Osaka, Hiroshima
(Part 1)

The Osaka receptionist was quite helpful but had an annoying habit of going "Hai Hai" ("Yes Yes"), even if I was sure she didn't fully understand what I was saying.

Since there was a microwave on my floor, I warmed up the buns I'd bought the previous night.

"551 Horai. Enjoy the real taste of good eating.
All the foods prepared by HORAI come out from our careful research.
over half century, of top flavors based on the Chinese gastronomy.
A myriad of people, grownups and children alike,
just love our characteristic menu,
and have made HORAI's name increasingly popular and famous.
Our eagerness to satisfy the eating pleasure of people will be ever-lasting."
For Engrish, this is very good already.

The pao

Oddly, the pao came with mustard. A good rule of thumb: try mustard before you add it to your food, for it may be English Mustard. I had to wipe mine off with a tissue. I don't know what they were thinking, pairing Chinese Pao with English Mustard.

View from room window

The nice thing about Jap mechanised toilets is that despite the water jets being targeted at certain areas, you can also use them for others.

View from toilet

The view from the toilet was much better than that from the room. Maybe I should've asked to sleep in the toilet instead.

Umeda Sky Building. I wanted to go closer but didn't have time, so this was from the train station.

Assorted shit in the store: 'okonomiyaki' and some custard sweet (I got one of the latter)

While waiting for my train I tried to figure out if the handful of crosses I'd seen on people were religious objects or fashion accessories (this is Japan).

The non-reserved cars in the Shinkansen were almost full - even in the smoking car. Luckily, I found one seat in the end. You can stand in the train (or at least, I saw people standing) but still.

Facilities onboard the Shinkansen. I love the "Silence Car" (for those fedup by the Japanese announcements never seeming to end) and the "Multi-Purpose Room" for "passengers who do not feel good" (maybe it's for them to throw up in).

Like many hostels, my Hiroshima hostel had personality.

"We clean the fridge every Tuesday and eat all the food without names and dates instead of YOU!!!"
I was tempted to put something with laxatives inside.

"Amazingly, the lowest grade beer don't have to use any malt and can use anything to brew. In our "Maybe-beers", soybean is used as a main material. Please enjoy comparing the taste between the different grades !"
A primer on Jap beer. I love the idea of "maybe-beer". Like much Engrish, you can identify this with the weird "Please" in the last sentence.

Even the vending machine was funky:

"I am beer machine. And you?
Y200 - Maybe Beer
Y240 - So=So Beer
Y280 - OK Beer
Y290 - I am BEER!
Y380 - I Love BEER
Did you enjoy KIRIN beers ? I hope so. However, I usually drink bottles of SUNTORY MALT's. Unlike many other Japanese beers, It is brewed by malt only, . If you are interested in the beer, please come to the reception."

Sights in Hiroshima. Incidentally, the temple survived the Bomb.


"Nuclear weapons are illegal, immoral weapons designed to obliterate cities"
City of Hiroshima Peace Declaration (2006)

The Peace Declaration was a little strange - I wouldn't exactly call a gatling machine gun an item of peace either.

"We prohibit under anathema that murderous art of crossbowmen and archers, which is hateful to God, to be employed against Christians and Catholics from now on." - Canon XXIX, Second Lateran Council (1139)

"The use of poisoned weapons and of weapons calculated to produce unnecessary pain or misery is prohibited, on the ground that, as the object of war is confined to disabling the enemy, the infliction of any injury beyond that which is required to produce disability is needless cruelty" - Instructions for the Government of Armies of the United States in the Field / Francis Lieber (1863)

"Considering: That the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy... the employment of such arms would, therefore, be contrary to the laws of humanity;
The Contracting Parties engage mutually to renounce, in case of war among themselves, the employment by their military or naval troops of any projectile of a weight below 400 grammes, which is either explosive or charged with fulminating or inflammable substances." - Declaration Renouncing the Use, in Time of War, of Explosive Projectiles Under 400 Grammes Weight. Saint Petersburg, 29 November / 11 December 1868 ("Declaration of St. Petersburg")

There was also the obligatory photo wall, where past visitors left pictures of themselves:

"we're in your temple stealing your Laydees. (Colm + Dave, Ireland)"

I then headed out towards the Peace Park (where all the Atomic Bomb-related stuff was clustered)

"Chinese Pub" - what, they serve Tsingtao?

Despite having some of the custard sweets I bought in Osaka, I was a little hungry, so I stopped by a restaurant for lunch.

Menu. Yes, I was drawn in by the English menu (they had no pictures and/or plastic food)

Since this was Hiroshima and Okonomiyaki was evidently their speciality, I decided to have it (the basic one).

Now, I thought I knew Okonomiyaki but in Hiroshima Okonomiyaki is made differently from the way people outside Japan are familiar with. Instead of everything being mixed and cooked together, thanks to the subtleties of Japanese regional cuisine... everything is cooked separately!!!

Peppering the dough-y layer

Adding cabbage

Bacon, mmm.

Adding the fried egg while warming the "soba" (I should've asked for udon - I've only ever had it with soba, oh well)

The finished product. They don't use mayo in Hiroshima, boo.
It was quite good, though of course it could've done with more bacon (but you can always have more bacon). It wasn't overcooked like in Singapore, the vegetables were still crunchy.

One guy at another table put natto on top of his okonomiyaki. Ugh. Both the people at this table got bonito flakes - maybe you don't get them with the budget version, hurr hurr.

"Beauty Adviser". I'm quite sure that this was a wrong translation of the Japanese.

After a while I reached the Peace Park.

Map of Peace Park

"Monument Dedicated to the Atomic Bombed Teachers and Students of National Elementary Schools"

Tree exposed to the blast (?)

Statue of Peace (New Leaves) (Dr.Hideki Yukawa)

There was no atas explanation about why a girl and her dog should represent Peace and/or New Leaves, so this is a perfect excuse for an exercise is free association.

Fountain of Peace

Statue of Mother and Child in the Storm

Peace Memorial Park blurb: "This park was established at this location for reasons given below:
1. This area is close to the hypocenter where a large number of people perished around here.
2. Located between two rivers, this area was deemed suitable for a water front park."
I wonder which was more important.

This doesn't seem to be a "Peace" mailbox, but a "Friendship" mailbox

Plaque about Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

I then backtracked a bit to "The Gates of Peace".

Which was being used for wedding photography.

The Memorial Monument to the Victims of the Atomic Bomb. Hiroshima Municipal Girls High School

"The formula for the theory of relativity, 'E=MC2,' which was the principle of the Atomic Bomb, is inscribed on the box held by the girls in the center of the monument. Since this monument was built in 1948, when Japan was under the occupation of the Allied Powers, they were forced to use the formula 'E=MC2' instead of the direct phrase 'the Atomic Bomb'"
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