A Travellerspoint blog

Japan

Hiroshima-Zoom Zoom in the morning, Action in the evening

Yesterday, I left the hostel at 7:45, am so I could make it to the Mazda Museum at 10:00 am. (I didn't need that much time-I actually arrived around 8:30). But I had an appointment for the museum, which was actually also a tour of the Mazda Assembly Line at their world headquarters, as well as some other stuff, and I was excited.

The Tour started at the main gate, in a their headquarters, which was also a showroom. While I was waiting, I had a cup of coffee at the adjoining Starbucks-like coffee shop, and then looked at the cars in the showroom.

The tour started at 10:00 am, and a bus took us to the museum.

i learned that Mazda started in the 1920's as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co, and somewhere along the way, the last time of the founder, Mazda, became the name of the company. The company started by producing 3 wheel trucks. I also learned the founders 70th birthday was the same day which Hiroshima was destroyed by the bomb.

We saw cars throughout the years, from the 3 wheel truck to the RX7 sports car to the MX5. Mazda proudly had on display their rotary engine, which, according to the guide, unlike other engines which you pistons moving up and down to turn the fuel into energy, the Rotors circle around to process the energy. There we're pictures of the proud designers, and later on, you could purchase key chains and cufflinks on the rotary engine. Mazda was proud of it. The only downside was is that the engine hasn't been used in a car since 2012-too much CO2 emissions.

I learned that Mazda doesn't believe in hybrid cars-they think that there is negligible effect on greenhouse gasses. And all Mazdas have Skyactiv technology, which is a lighter frame, I believe (the guide's English wasn't that great, and she didn't have an easy time explaining things).

We did see the assembly line-which was most interesting. Different types of cars are produced on the same line-SUV's along with the MX5 convertible. We saw workers installing the floorboards, and glue attached to new windshields by robots.

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The bus brought us back to the headquarters, and then I took a train back to Hiroshima. I got on a sightseeing bus, and saw Hiroshima castle, which was built in the 600's I believe. (Of course, this is a reproduction). IT wasn't that interesting but there was a nice view from the top. I also saw a Zen temple, with a priest using a rake over sand, which was quite peaceful.

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i went to a few stores in downtown Hiroshima, had dinner at a restaurant where you request your order using a machine, and give the receipt to a waitress (very common in Japan), and made it back to the hostel around 9:00.

I BS'ed with the folks here at the hostel, as per many times, over a drink with grapefruit and a lot of alcohol, talking about different countries, when a 30ish looking fellow came to the common area and pleaded us to call an ambulance. He had bad pains in his stomach, and couldn't sit or stand. We didn't know how, as none of us had a local calling card. Another guy went to the convenience store across the street, and called the ambulance.

After about 20 minutes, one came. The people didn't speak any English, but one guy here could translate from Japanese. the guys walked downstairs, and he walked down as well. After that i went to bed.

Posted by DavidPearlman 15:23 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Going to Hiroshima with Mr Shinkenson

Yesterday, I went to Hiroshima with Mr Shinkansen.

Mr Shinkansen is not a person. He is a train. In this case,he is the bullet train which travels from Kyoto to Hiroshima. I figured this is Japan, and I_wanted to try the bullet train once. The train does like like a Mr Shinkansen, very mean from the outside. But he is quick and lean.I made it to Hiroshima to Kyoto in about 2 hours.This would be a distance of 9 hours by car or bus. The trip did cost about $105.00 so Mr Shinkansen was quite expensive.

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Hiroshima is a nice leafy city. When I got here, after checking into the hostel, I took a hop on hop off sightseeing bus. The biggest part of the tour is of course the Peace Park, where I went to a museum showing videos of folks who survived the bombing, and all sorts of artifacts. It was indeed a sad display. The videos showed people describing how they were trapped beneath rubble, how most of their friends died. It told about kids' whose hair fell out, their skin hung off their bodies. IT showed the body of one woman whose kimono pattern was burnt into her skin. It was quite disgusting and way too much. I also saw various displays of how the government is trying to cut down the amount of nuclear weapons.

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Also on display in the nuclear bomb dome, which is one of the only structures in the city left after the bombing. It was a dome, and was quite chilling.
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After that, it witnessed a prayer service from the Korean Church, for a successful summit between North Korea and the US. Then I found a depeartment store, had dinner of pizza, and went back to the hostel.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 14:54 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Last Day Kyoto-Pavilion N Railroad

Yesterday, I woke up early and took the bus to the Golden Pavilion, which is a Buddhist Temple made of gold, and was a zen retirement villa. Actually, the top two floors are made up of gold leaf. It was beautiful, but mobbed. The crowds we're everywhere, particularly of school kids in line. And I couldn't get real close to the villa. So it was just crowded.

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But, going out, there was a traditional Japanese tea house offering tea and a sweet for around $5.00. I decided to pay the $5.00, and a Buddhist sister put out a traditional cup of macha tea and a small (really small) sweet. She told me how to eat/drink it. (sip of tea, bite of sweet, and repeat)-she said a prayer as well. To participate, I had to take off my shoes and sit on the floor. It was nice.

After the palace, I took the bus to the train station. Kyoto as 1200 temples/shrines. It feels like I have seen many of them, and was tired of them. But the Kyoto Railroad Museum was a short walk from the train station. I took a walk through a park besides the train tracks to the museum, and found a bench to sit on and watch the trains go by (one went by every minute or so).

I made my way to the museum, which was pretty cool. The original bullet train was on display, built in 1964, along with the cars. I sat in the cockpit which looked old fashioned. There we're other trains on display as well. I went upstairs, where there was a display on electrification, which powered the trains, and also a model railroad display. I sat and waited about 20 minutes for the model train show to start. The lights went down, and the train show started with the moderator talking in Japanese, starting different trains, and showing a projection of them so all could see.
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i went up to the gallery and cafeteria, both of which offered a great view of the tracks.

I was at the museum until closing. i just took a walk down the street, and decided to walk through the rain. I went through different neighborhoods, got lost, and finally found the train station again. i found a water show with water fountains next to the train station. I watched the waterplay for a few minutes and then went back to the hostel, but first stopped at a department store on the way to the rail station

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Posted by DavidPearlman 15:15 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Kyoto: Lots of Monkeys and Getting Naked

Yesterday, I woke up and took the train to a different part of town then where I have been, and did a few different things. It was raining lightly out.

First of all, I went to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, where bamboo trees grows up to the sky. It was a very impressive walk, but a short one. The Lonely Planet guidebook says it is a quiet and tranquil walk, but truth be told, the walk is full of groups, particularly school groups (I guess there is school here on Sundays in Japan), so it wasn't very quiet. What was unusual was seeing people wearing Kimonos and other uniforms. The folks who dressed up had bamboo shoes, and you could hear those folks come from a long ways. The grove was also right near a busy rail line, so I could actually see the trains rushing through from the grove.

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After the grove, I walked for about 1/2 an hour, and came to the entrance of the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. Here after paying, I walked up a long hill, and was sweating by the time I got to the top. But as I (and many others) got closer to the top, i started seeing the monkeys, which are called Japanese macaque monkeys, and they are fun to watch. Little baby monkeys got on the back of the mother, and the mothers groomed them. All of the monkeys would run off in one direction or another for who knows what reason. There was a house you could go into with bars on the outside, and you can feed the monkeys pieces of sweet potato and peanuts. I didn't. I took some pictures of the monkeys, and after a while watching them, I hiked down the hill, and saw a sign warning what not to do with the moneys-don't crouch to take a picture, don't look at them in the eye, and don't get within a few meters of them-I think i did all of the above.

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After that, i went to an onsen, a Japanese hot spring and spa, which uses water from geothermally heated springs. Staying in a hostel, many, perhaps most of the people their can't go to many onsen in Japan-and that is why i wanted to go. It isn't because they are too expensive (it was $12.00 to enter), or it is reliant on looks-but tattoos are taboo is Japan-the Japanese think they are a symbol of the mafia. Being the hostels are full of 20 somethings, many have tattoos-therefore I could go when many others can't.

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i entered, and was asked to take off my shoes. i put my shoes in a separate locker, and was given a key for a big locker, where i undressed and put my camera bag in (you aren't allowed to wear a bathing suit), and men and women are separated. I walked out to the different pools. The pools have everything from warm warm water to one with ice cold water. I spent time in each one (including going to the ice cold water pool twice-it felt better the second time). Only about 5 other guys were in the onsen when i was there. After going in each pool, I showered (because that was the rule I believe).

The place was unbelievably clean. It wasn't like a public swimming pool, or bath house, but more like a high-end hotel. Cleaning up, the counter had after shave and two different types of cologne in the bathroom.

After the onsen, I went to the train station across the street, where I sat and took a nap. I then walked around the little village of Sagano, which is set against the mountains, and is most scenic. I then took the train back to the Kyoto Station, and for the third night in a row, ate conveyor belt sushi.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 15:47 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Kyoto, Japan-Seven Tawainese Girls and Hundreds of Deer

Yesterday, I took the train from Kyoto to Nara, But first the night before was interesting. When i got back to the room about 9:30 pm, everyone including big boobs with blue hair had checked out. I was in there alone-which was neither good nor bad. it still had my upper dorm bed-just unusual that i was alone in a room that was full or nearly full by the time i got here, and i was alone. just me in an 8 person room.

Then at 11:00 pm, there was a knock on the door. 7 Tawainese girls came in, selected beds, and started viciously unpacking. They we're fun so it was quite surprising.

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The train to Nara was fine. This was a place a lot of folks enjoyed, as there we're apparently lots of deer around, and the deer we're gentle.

I got off the train and walked up the hill. I saw the deer, and then a lot more deer. They we're indeed gentle. People bought deer crackers from elderly ladies for around $1.50. The deer instantly went after the crackers after someone paid $1.50. I wondered why the deer didn't pummel the old ladies selling the crackers-since they had the stash.

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I then walked towards a giant wood building, actually one of the largest wood buildings in the world, with a giant Buddha-actually the largest Bronze Buddha statue in the world. This is the third giant Buddha I had seen on my travels. (first in Hong Kong and second in China)

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It was very impressive, but again I have seen a bunch of Buddhas. I then walked around Nara for a while, which is a bustling town with lots of stores. i had some different type of Mcflurry from Mcdonalds which was delicious. Then I took the train back to Kyoto.

In Kyoto, I decided to go to the top of the Kyoto tower, since it was close to sunset. It was a pretty view, but the tower wasn't that high. I then went again to the conveyor belt sushi place I went to the night before. The wait was about an hour for a seat this time.
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Posted by DavidPearlman 14:36 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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