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Senior Project - Beyond Pacific

Day 9 in Tokyo

We started our day when we woke up at 10 o’clock, the latest time we have woken up to so far. Our first destination was Tenkuni in Ginza area for lunch. Tenkuni is known for their long history of specialty in tempura meals. It was one of those fancy traditional Japanese restaurants, so we had to pay more than usual for our meal, but their eel, squid, and shrimp tempura, as well as their stable rice and miso soup, were especially delicious.

(Lunch at Tenkuni)

Then we walked around the streets along the Ginza area, where there are tons of shopping malls that constantly reminded us that we were at the heart of the city. We visited Leica Camera store and several department stores to check out their fascinating items and modern interior.

(Buildings on the side of Ginza Street)

Crowds were everywhere we went, even after we took a train to the Roppongi area. We went there without much plan in advance, thinking that we'd enjoy whatever we could find. Luckily, we found a nearby exhibition that Amy and I were both interested in: Marvel. On the 53th floor of Mori Tower, we were able to enjoy both the exhibition and the free city view.

(Mori Tower)

(View from the tower)

The Marvel Exhibition showed a detailed history and origin of their movies and characters, even featuring the costumes the actors and actresses wore. Amy ended up buying a water bottle with Marvel logo as we got out of the exhibition.

(Iron Man statue at the exhibition)

(Gift shop at the end of the exhibition)

We went to a restaurant called Green Asia for dinner. The place mainly sold Thai and Indonesian food that we don’t normally see, such as nashigoreng, a type of Indonesian fried rice. In addition to the good meals, their terrace made it just good enough to eat outside, as we could enjoy the city’s night view while finishing our meals.

(Dinner at Green Asia)

(Dessert - Mango Bread Ice Cream)

After dinner, we wandered around the shopping malls for a bit then called it a day. We rode a subway back to our Airbnb house in Oshiage using our 72 hour Tokyo pass, then prepared for our next day, the last day in Tokyo. 

 

(Dog trimming shop at the mall)

Posted by on Tuesday May 23, 2017
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Day 8 in Tokyo

Because we missed our bus last night to Tokyo anyway, we decided to sleep in the next day. The hotel was a bit pricey, but it was the closest to Kyoto Station, so we figured it was best to stay somewhere comfortable and convenient than somewhere far and economic.

Around 11:30 in the morning, we took a Shinkansen, Japan’s high speed railway lines, from Kyoto to Japan. The trip only took around two and a half hours, while a normal speed train would’ve taken more than twice as long. It was my first time experiencing such a high-speed train. The ride was steady and smooth, unlike any train, car or bus ride I’ve ever experienced! The only downside, however, was the cost compared to a regular train or bus.

 

(Inside Shinkansen)

After we arrived in Tokyo, we headed first for the Information Center, so we could purchase our Tokyo metro/subway tickets. What we did not expect, however, was an interactive polylingual robot name Pepper to entertain us while we waited! It introduced us to some of the tourist spots in and interesting facts about the city. It could even dance to an entire Beyonce song if we asked it to!

(Robot named Pepper at the Information Center) 

For our first sightseeing destination, we went to Ochanomizu Street, where we witnessed the Nikolai Cathedral, or the Holy Resurrection Cathedral. It was the first (and most only) historic place of worship of the Christian religion in we visited in Japan. St. Nicholas of Russian origin founded the Japanese Orthodox Church to improve relationships between Japan and Russian during the Meiji Period. The result was this lovely cathedral in the middle of Japan’s modern capital.

 

(Nikolai Cathedral in Tokyo)

Shortly after, we walked around Guitar Street in Ochanomizu, where many guitar shops are lined along the streets. Despite that neither Kayla nor I play the guitar, it was fascinating to see all guitar shops congregated in one area with all varieties of the same instrument.

(Guitar Street in Ochanomizu) 

Next, we casually toured around the Kanda area, where many book shops lined the street. Once again, neither Kayla nor I were able to truly appreciate the place because we weren’t fluent enough in Japanese to read any of the books. But again, we could appreciate the intellectual atmosphere around the area.

We didn’t have too much free time to tour more of Tokyo that afternoon, so we decided to call it a day. We settled down at our Airbnb house and walked a short distance to a nearby sushi conveyor belt restaurant. There, we tried all sorts of sushi, as much as we wanted. In America, sushi are more elaborately made, with a variety of ingredients to enhance the taste. In Japan, however, sushi are more simple, usually with rice and fish, and occasionally a strip of seaweed. I personally enjoy the American, non-traditional, style of sushi.

(Conveyor Belt Sushi)

Posted by on Monday May 22, 2017 at 10:19AM
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Day 7 in Kyoto

We got up around 7:30 to prepare for our visit to Kousen High School, our sister school in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. We dragged our luggage and rode a bus to Kyoto Station, where we left our stuff in the coin lockers, before taking a JR train to Shiga Prefecture.

After arriving at Minanmi Kusatsu Station, it took us another 10 minutes by walking to finally arrive at our sister school. The security guard guided us through the entrance, where we finally met Kousen’s principal, vice principals, and Mr. Shimizu, a Kousen English teacher and our senior project sponsor. We had an hour long talk about Japan’s school system, from the number of major exams they take a year and their college application process. In Japan, it’s common to have trimesters in high school and semesters in college. They also take five major exams a year: first semester’s mid-term and finals, second semester’s mid-term and finals, and the year’s last final exam to examine the students’ accumulated knowledge over the past year. After hearing their intense exam schedules, Amy and I felt relieved that we only have to take two a year.

Kousen also divides each grade by three levels; 1-rui, 2-rui, or 3-rui. 1-rui is for students who want to try various clubs and sports in addition to academics, while 3-rui is designed for students who want to focus on studying only and thus are most likely to enter top Japanese universities. 

(Kousen High School's gym, physics classroom, homeroom classroom, and cubbies)

What sets Kousen apart from public schools and many other private schools in Japan are their intense academic courses, variety of sport teams like ice hockey and rugby, and student exchange programs in many foreign countries. In addition to their exchange program with Country Day, Kousen has established similar programs with schools in the UK and New Zealand, where students can further experience different lifestyles abroad. Due to these varied opportunities, many students choose to commute over an hour from their homes to attend Kousen.

Unfortunately, it was their mid-term season when we visited, so we couldn’t attend their classes to experience their learning environment, but we were able to visit their bakery and cafeteria. Kousen’s cafeteria provides lunch to students at reasonable prices (300-450 yen), and students can choose their food from various lunch menus. They can also buy snacks or eat lunch from the school bakery where many different kinds of bread are provided.

(Kousen's bakery and cafeteria)

Amy decided to eat bento while I chose curry katsu for lunch. We both really liked our food, and it was great to see students who had visited DCD during lunch after finishing their exams. In addition, Kousen’s faculty members were very kind to us, and we were grateful that they took the time to meet and greet us. They gave us a detailed description about how their school functioned academically and athletically. Even as foreigners, we were able to understand their school system in comparison to ours. They also gave us little gifts before we left, which we absolutely loved.

(Gifts from Kousen High School)

(With Ms. Shimizu and Kousen's Vice Principal)

After the visit to Kousen, we went on to visit Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion. In contrast to Ginkaku-ji we visited yesterday, the Kinkaku-ji building was stunning in itself, but the surrounding was not so much to see. Yet, it was a beautiful pavilion q with calming river surround it. We just wished it had been less crowded so we could actually enjoy the tranquil environment. However, we met some travelers from Australia who recommended a restaurant called Fire Ramen for dinner. And as it turned out, that was another great find in Kyoto!

(Kinkaku-ji, Golden Pavilion)

When we first entered the restaurant, the cooks gave us disposable aprons and napkins to cover our body from possible residuals from their little performance. We were curious to see how they would make ramen from the "fire show", and we were not disappointed. They set green onion oil on fire and poured it into our ramen bowls, instantly causing a huge fire to rise. The taste of the ramen was great as well, even to me, who usually don't like green onions.

(Fire Ramen place in Kyoto)

The day went by just as planned until we missed our night bus to Tokyo. Our immediately reaction was to panic. However, since we figured that we won’t be able to catch another night bus or JR to Tokyo so late that night, we quickly booked a hotel nearby to spend the night and decided to leave for Tokyo via Shinkansen, the Japanese bullet train, the morning after. It all worked out at the end. 

Posted by on Sunday May 21, 2017
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Day 6 in Kyoto

We woke up early this morning, packed up all our belongings, and bound for Kyoto, a popular cultural and tourism center in Japan. We left our luggage in one of the coin lockers at Gion-shijo Station and headed straight for a kimono rental store called Kyoetsu. Kayla and I each selected a kimono robe we would like to wear for the day, along with a matching obi (a sash wrapped around the waist and tied at the back), bag, shoes, hair accessories, and hair style. The kimono wearing process was intricate. First, we had to slip into white undergarments before wearing the outer kimono. A thick, corset-like belt was fastened around the waist before the obi was tied into a beautiful pattern at the back. The overall result? Stunning.

 

(Kayla and I in our rented kimono)

The tight waistline was a challenge for me to breathe comfortably, but as I walked longer in the kimono, the comfort began to kick in naturally. Under the premature summer sun, I was expecting a hot and painful experience in my layered outfit, but the heat was surprisingly bearable. The fabric seemed to maintain a well-adjusted temperature despite the blazing weather.

We grabbed lunch in our kimono at a restaurant called Hyakushokuya, where they are known for beef-based dishes. We ordered Gyudon, or a type of Japanese beef bowl served with rice and fish and seaweed stock. Along with the beef bowl, I ordered beef sushi, which I’d heavily recommend to those who aren’t the biggest fans of the classic fish sushi.

 

(Gyudon and Beef Sushi at Hyakushokuya)

Kyoto prides itself in its classic structures, so naturally, we took numerous photos of ourselves in kimono and the matching historic sites as the background. Our first sightseeing stop was Fushimi Inari Taisha, a shrine located on the bottom of a mountain and leads to smaller shrines up the mountain. The famous structure was featured in the 2005 movie, Memoirs of a Geisha, so I was curious to see how it would compare to its silver screen presentation. Conclusion? It was just as grand as I had expected.

 

(Fushimi Inari Taisha)

(Kayla walking along the smaller shrines up the mountain)

If we were to walk the entire length of the shrines, it would take approximately two hours. Of course, we only walked a reasonable distance before coming down the mountain again.

Now here’s a funny story. We sure weren’t the only visitors wearing rented kimonos, but we were stopped by so many tourists to take pictures of us and with us. I’m not sure if they thought we were the real thing, but their interest in our fashion wasn’t the least subtle.

Our next stop was Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavilion, which I later figured was the most misleading name. The temple was far from silver, but more dark-brown and made of wood. The surrounding nature garden, in my opinion, was more beautiful than the temple itself.

(Ginkakuji)

(Scenery around Ginkakuji)

We took this time to appreciate the scenery at Yojiya Café, where they served refreshing matcha (green tea) flavored drinks. The café was located at a classic-looking building. The inside was just as a traditional, with tatami mats, low tables, and tall windows looking into the beautiful scenery outside.

(Outside scenery from Yojiya Café)

We returned our kimono afterwards and grabbed dinner at Toraya Motsunabe in our normal clothes. Motsunabe is a type of Japanese hot pot made from pork intestines. Now before you get squeamish, you should all know that this was a very delicious and unique meal, like none I’ve ever tried before. The flavor was nothing too strong, but the meat was sure rich in texture.

 

(Hotpot at Taraya Motsunabe)

After dinner, we walked back to our Airbnb house, passing the popular geisha district, Gion, along the way. Around for hundreds of years, Gion hosts classic architecture, teahouses, and geisha performances. While we didn't linger in the area for long, we were able catch a glimpse of a geisha walking on the streets.

(Gion district late at night)

Posted by on Saturday May 20, 2017
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Day 5 in Nara

Since we had a pretty tight schedule for the past couple days, we decided to sleep in for this morning. We woke up around 9:30, then prepared ourselves for Nara, home of the famous historical site, Todai-ji. After using subway to get to Kintetsu Nara Station, we went to a restaurant called Maguro Koya for lunch. They are known for tuna meals, so we ordered a tuna karaage set and a tuna sashimi set. The meal was overwhelmingly delightful: I never knew that tuna sashimi could taste so good with rice. I was initially disappointed at the humble interior of the restaurant, but the food was simply delicious.

(Lunch from Maguro Koya)

After lunch, we headed to Todai-ji, meaning the Great Eastern Temple. The site dates back to 752 as the head Buddhist temple of all provincial temples in Japan. I visited there about three years ago as a DCDS exchange student to Japan in June, but I still felt the same awe I felt the first time. It was the biggest temple I’ve even seen, and the Buddhist statues located inside were enormous. There were a lot of middle and high school students from different schools, and I could tell that they were awed by the size and grandiosity of the temple as well.

(Todai-ji)

After walking around the temple, we went to Nara Deer Park nearby. From the entrance of Todai-ji, there were deer everywhere, ready to snatch anything edible from our hands. Amy and I also bought a pack of snacks for them. As soon as we opened the package, we were surrounded by a group of aggressive deer. When we tried to take a picture after feeding the deer, they all left as if they have no interest in us without food. :(

(Amy feeding snacks to deer)

We went back to Osaka to visit their Kaiyukan Aquarium afterwards. Initially disgruntled about their expensive fee, we were soon amazed by the breathtaking exhibition: there were so many varieties of aquatic species. It was my first time seeing hammered head sharks in real life, and we were even able to touch some of the ray fish and sharks. To our delight, they actually enjoyed being pet, as they kept swimming back for more. It was overall worth to visit: we were able to observe sea creatures that we don't usually see at other places.

(Animals from Kaiyukan Aquarium)

(Outside of Kaiyukan Aquarium-Osaka Port)

It was about 6 pm when we got out of the aquarium, so we went to get our dinner at Shinsaibashi. We went to a restaurant called Naniwa Omurice where the chef only sells omurice, or omelette made with fried rice. They won first place in the omurice category in the Kansai area, so we were excited to try their food. And of course, Amy and I were both more than satisfied with the dish we ordered.

 

(Cheese omurice from Naniwa Omurice)

(Cook at Naniwa Omurice)

What I noticed from a lot of the restaurants here is that a lot of praised restaurants are run by a small number of people, usually family members, or even one person like in Naniwa Omurice and Maguro Koya. They don’t expand their business even after their restaurants become popular; they seem to be content with what they have and continue to serve a small group of customers at a time. I find it interesting how humble these restaurant owners are in contrast to those who seek business growth.

Posted by on Thursday May 18, 2017
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Day 4 in Osaka

We dedicated one whole day to tour the famous city of Osaka, a center of vivid nightlife and delicious street food in Japan. We started the day with a hearty morning scroll around Kuromon Market, which just happens to be a couple steps away from our Airbnb house. This colorful street is lined with convenient stores and food shops, and this is where we decided to grab our breakfast: Japanese cheesecake from Rikuro Ojisan and takoyaki, a type of snack made from a flour-based batter and stuffed with octopus. This had to be the most delicious breakfast on our trip so far!

 

(Kuromon Market)

(Japanese cheesecake at Rikuro Ojisan)

(The making of takoyaki)

(The finished version of takoyaki)

For our first destination of the day, we decided to pay a visit to Shitennoji Temple, often regarded as Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple. Like many popular temples and palaces in Japan, this temple has been rebuilt many times. When we visited, some parts of the temple were blocked off as constructions were taking place.

 

(Shitennoji Temple)

After our little visit to the temple, we grabbed lunch at Tokumasa, where they served delicious curry udon noodles. At first I was skeptical of the combination, but my first bite proved me wrong. As someone who is not the biggest fan of regular udon, curry adds a strong flavor to the noodles that I enjoy. Lesson learned: try something you would never think to try.

(Curry Udon at Tokumasa) 

With our full stomachs rumbling with content, we took a walk to Osaka Castle, a famous landmark in Japan. Although the structural style is similar to the castles in Himeji and Hiroshima, the roof colors of Osaka Castle are mint green and gold. It is simply a beautiful structure and a worthwhile visit.

 

(Osaka Castle)

Next, we toured the lively Dotonbori district, a popular destination for tourists to view and explore the city. We took a short cruise and drifted along the Dotonbori river, snapping shots of the city buildings. Our tour guide was the most enthusiastic: motioning and waving his hands and trying to engage the audience with his limited knowledge of English.

(Dotonbori District)

(Dotonbori buildings from river cruise view) 

When we got off the boat, we took a walk through the Shinsaibashi area, the largest shopping district in Osaka. The sides are lined with high end fashion boutiques, specialty shops, and eateries of all kinds. All along the streets, various languages can be heard from locals and tourists who gather to explore the lively area. It was certainly an enjoyable experience through the street life of Osaka.

 

(Shinsaibashi Shopping District) 

In the evening, we stopped by the restaurant Bodoutei for dinner. Long story short: it took us much longer than necessary to locate the restaurant. Our feet grew sore and our patience started to run out. But having seen favorable online reviews, we persisted through the search, and the results did not disappoint me. My Japanese hamburger steak and Kayla’s Special Set of ham, cheese, shrimp tempura, and steak were especially appetizing. We left the restaurant full and content.

(Our steak meals from Budoutei) 

Our last destination of the day was the Umeda Sky Building, where we took a series of elevators and escalators to the Floating Garden Observatory. On the building roof, we could see the entire night view of the city. The view was stunning. In Kayla’s opinion, the view was comparable even to the Empire State Building itself.

 

(Osaka night view from the roof of the Umeda Sky Buildling)

Posted by on Wednesday May 17, 2017
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Day 3 in Kobe

After spending a night on the night bus, we got off at Osaka Station around 6:30 in the morning. There we went to Umeda Station nearby to change and leave our belongings in the station lockers. We bought a 3-day Kansai Through Pass, which allows us to use railways and buses in the Kansai area for an unlimited amount in any three days, and one-day Osaka Amazing Pass for unlimited rides in the Osaka area and free admissions to various sites. The use of both passes are only available to non-Japanese travelers.

After getting our passes at Osaka Visitor’s Information Center, we headed off to Hyogo where he had a brief breakfast at a local restaurant and visited Himeji Castle. Himeji Castle was originally built as a fort back in 1333, but was remodeled into castle by several personals, including Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Today, it is considered to be one of the finest surviving Japanese castles in the country. It was painted all white, including the roof. It is, indeed, as delicate and beautiful as they say it is. Luckily, we were able to go inside the building to explore the interior structure. In contrast to its appearance from outside, everything was kept simple with minimal furniture and wooden structures. To our dismay, the stairs were very steep and thus a challenge to climb.

(Breakfast bento from Honke-Kamadoya)

(Himeji Castle)

Next, we moved to Kobe and tried their famous Kobe beef. The setting of the restaurant was just like what we would see in Japanese hibachi restaurants in America. However, the superb quality of the meat and other ingredients really set the meal apart from theirs.

(Kobe beef at Steak Aoyama)

In addition to the delicious meal, the staff was very friendly accommodating. They offered us free postcards and instructions to get to our next destination.

Located about 5 minutes away from the Kobe beef restaurant, Ikuta Shrine is one of the oldest traditional Shinto shrine in Japan. When we got there, there were not just foreign visitors, but many locals who were praying at the shrine. The shrine itself was very peaceful and well-maintained, and is bright red color further collaborated with its ambience. 

(Ikuta Shrine)

Our next destination was Kitano Ijinkan Starbucks. This Starbucks chain, located by Kitano Ijinkan Street, is known for its unique Japanese-Western style building. Inside the two-story historic building, there were antique rooms where people could enjoy their drinks in a refreshing environment. I ordered a seasonal Crunchy Caramel Frappuccino, which is only served in Japan. Although it was a long walk through steep hills, I would definitely visit there again if I have a chance. Around Kitano Ijinkan Street, there are many beautiful foreign-themed houses that are sure worth a visit.

(Exterior of Kitano Ijinkan Starbucks)

We went back to Umeda Station to get our luggage from the locker and headed to Namba to our Airbnb house. After settling down in our new place, I went to get dinner for some Okonomiyaki while Amy decided to stay home to finish her journal entry for the previous day.

(Okonomiyaki at Chibo Okonomiyaki)

It was about 9 pm but the streets were still crowded with students and workers, and I was able to get a good meal from the restaurant I found among many others. I came back to our place with dinner for Amy and prepared for the next day. 

Posted by on Tuesday May 16, 2017
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Day 2 in Hiroshima

Early in the morning, we checked out of the guest house and began our first full day‘s adventure in Japan.

First things first, we located the Hiroshima Electric Railway (also known as Hiroden) Station. We each purchased a 1 Day Pass to ride the Hiroden as many times as we wished over the course of the day. We then rode the Hiroden to the Hiroshima Bus Center, where we stored our belongings in the coin lockers.

Around 10:00 in the morning, we were tired and hungry from dragging our suitcases and backpacks around, so we stopped by a restaurant, Bremen, for a brief breakfast/brunch. We each ordered a different version of toast sandwich. 

After the meal was when the real adventure started. We rode the Hiroden to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, or the Atomic Bomb Dome, which serves as a memorial to those who perished from the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945. 

(Hiroshima Peace Memorial)

After a couple minutes by walking, we arrived at the Peace Memorial Museum. We were first led through a brief history lesson of the events before, during, and after the bombing. The presentation was aided by the remains of buildings or furniture donated by the victims of the event.

(Melted Items)

The part of the exhibition that stuck out to me the most was the presentation of individual and personal stories of the victims. In glasses cases, torn school uniforms told stories of young children on their way home from school when the bombing blinded their sight. Diary entries recorded the victims' last words before dying in their loved ones' arms. Hanging on the walls were black-and-white photographs that captured swollen faces and scorched burns of the victims, young and old.

The museum successfully demonstrated the disastrous consequences of the atomic bomb and offered a promising and peaceful picture for the future. Countries around the globe are working toward international peace and a nuclear-free world.

After hanging out at the Peace Memorial Park, we took the Hiroden to Hiroshima Castle and its nearby Japanese garden, Shukkei-en. We walked around, taking photos and enjoying the exquisite scenery.

(Hiroshima Castle)

(Shukkei-en)

We then took a long ride on the Hiroden to Miyajima Station, where we transferred to a ferry that took us to Miyajima Island. As soon as we landed, we spotted deer roaming around freely and undisturbed. We even caught a few trailing after tourists with food.

(A deer on Miyajima Island)

By that time, we were famished, so we ate late lunch/early dinner at one of the restaurants and ordered Anago-meshi, a Hiroshima local dish of broiled eel on top of rice.

(Anago-meshi)

After our stomachs were filled, we walked down to the edge of the island to visit the famous Itsukushima Shrine. It was then when we both recognized the difference between a “shrine” and a “temple.” A temple is a place of worship for Buddhism, but a shrine is specifically for Shintoism, Japan’s ethnic religion.

(Itsukushima Shrine)

Later that evening, we strolled around Hondori shopping street, where we enjoyed cheap photoshoot booths and local arcade games.

(Hondori)

At the day’s end, we retrieved our luggage from the lockers and caught the night bus to Osaka, our next destination.

Posted by on Monday May 15, 2017
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Day 1 in Hiroshima

For our senior project, Amy and I decided to travel around Japan, South Korea, and China to compare the cultural differences among the three Asian countries. The three countries share a lot of characteristics, yet there are crucial differences socially, environmentally, and academically. We want to study these cultural aspects by personally visiting these three countries to learn and observe what is there to discover.

We are spending 10 days in Japan, a week in Korea, and 9 days in China. We will be visiting popular cities such as Osaka, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Beijing to ensure we are getting our experiences from few of the most representative places from each country.

It took us a total of 3 connecting flights (Detroit to Toronto, Toronto to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Hiroshima) to finally arrive at our first destination. We left from DTW for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at 10:30 am on May 12, and finally made it to Hiroshima International Airport by 6:30 pm on May 13 in local time.

(View from the plane from Detroit to Toronto)

It took us a total of 19 hours to get from Detroit to Hiroshima. We became exhausted from many layovers, yet it was interesting to see the differences between the airports. To bypass the American airport security was the strictest while the Tokyo one was the most lax. The plane we took from Tokyo to Hiroshima was more spacious per person than the one from Detroit to Canada, even though the planes were about the same sizes. After going through the American airport security, I thought the Canadian airport employees were the nicest, but, wow, the Japanese airport workers were even kinder. They always wore a huge smile and were eager to help when we seemed lost or confused.  

(Vending machine from Haneda Airport, Tokyo)

(Bento from a Japanese convenient store at the airport)

We took a bus to Hiroshima Station to our guesthouse, which is similar to B&B or inn, after arriving in Hiroshima Airport. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good internet connection or specific direction to the guesthouse, so we were lost for about 20 minutes until we finally decided to take a taxi to the guesthouse 5 minutes away.  It was around 8 pm when we arrived at our living quarters. We picked up our portable wifi device from the guesthouse and left to eat dinner nearby. The Japanese restaurant we found first was closed early, so we went to a Japanese-American fusion restaurant located next to it. Their food, like the cod roe pasta I ordered, was nothing like I've ever tasted before. They put roe, seaweed, and anchovy with the pasta, and it was surprisingly quite delicious.

(Cod roe pasta from Al Garage restaurant)

Another thing I noticed was that each portion is way smaller the typical restaurants we would find in the US. A lot of times, Japanese restaurants don’t offer take out options, so they serve just the right portion for one person only. After dinner, we walked around the buildings for a while, then came back to our guesthouse to prepare for the next day.

(Casino building on the street)

I met a number of nice people at the guesthouse. Once I accidentally dropped one of my lenses on the floor, everyone in the common area immediately helped me out. Some of them could not even speak English but despite of the language barrier, they offered to help.

(Guesthouse facilities - guide books, maps, manga, recycle bins)

Accommodation wise, it was confusing at first because none of us has stayed in a guesthouse before, but overall it was a great experience to see how people from different countries socialize and communicate in one place. Here’s a link to the guesthouse’s website: http://www.akicafe.co.jp/home-eng/

 

Posted by on Saturday May 13, 2017
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