25 August 2010
06 August 2010
I’d been to the Hiroshima Peace Museum where you read of personal accounts and graphically sense the reality of the horrendous moment. I learned to love the kids I taught English to, and thought that if something similar happened today, probably 90% of the kids wouldn’t survive. The school I taught at, and the apartment I lived in, are only 2 km from where the bomb was dropped. Many times I’d visited the Peace park, seen the famous Atomic Bomb Dome building remains, spend time with friends there, seen the school tours, and spent quiet moments there.
At 8:16 am (9:16 am Melbourne time), 6 August, it’s 65 years since the blinding energy was unleashed to cause instant devastation. Why did this have to happen? Why do these things still happen? Aren’t they the large-scale version of conflicts we have at times between friends, family, neighbours, colleagues?
English Teacher 2007-2009
Hiroshima SDA Primary School
4-4 Takeya-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730-0048, Japan.
26 July 2010
6:00 the alarm goes off, dark outside, press snooze again, and again, and again.
Lift my heavy head off my pillow, drag the covers back, feel the cool winter morning seep in, and eventually place my feet on the carpet.
Freshen up, grab some cereal from the kitchen and get dressed for the day in front of the electric heater.
Clean teeth and collect the necesssary keys, phone, wallet and one or two other things I need for the day.
Slip my shoes on and head out of my Southbank apartment at 7:07 am. I know I have no time to spare, but will also be on time.
Walk down St Kilda Rd towards the city past National Gallery, water fountains outside, tree-lined avenue, trams rumbling by.
Sky is getting lighter, clouds have orange tinge, air is very crisp at 6 degrees. People attired for work walk on the footpath, some holding a warming drink, others with scarf and gloves.
See the illuminated city buildings, soon to be over-brightened by the lightening sky. Walk across the Yarra river past Federation Square, and pas the clock at Flinders St station which says 7:20.
Down Swanston St and then into Collins, past the banks, hotels and stores. Across the crossing, look up at the Commonwealth Bank building. Press the button and up the lift.
Out the window, see the sun beginning to shine on the NAB building. Hot air ballons rising above.
Log in, check emails. It's 7:30 am. Time to start the day... at work... in Melbourne.
05 July 2010
Tue: Was nice catching up with family friends in Maebashi, Gunma-ken. Stopped overnight at capsule hotel in Kanda (next to Tokyo station), scrubbed up in the bath they had there, before watching Japan lose the game to drop out of the World Cup, but Japan played really well.
Wed: Up to catch the 4:52am train to Yokohama, then bullet train to Nagoya to see a good long-term Japanese friend for few minutes before work. On the train again to Hiroshima, home city, left 1 year ago. So strange seeing all the familiar places again! Lunch with friends from a Bible study group, then hung out at the school I used to teach English at. Really, really nice to see all the kids and parents from the school, as well as teachers and other friends. Dinner with more friends, then to a friends cousins` place in Hiroshima where I stayed 4 nights. Really nice Japanese apartment (size of a house) in a quiet area. Very thankful to be able to stay there.
Thu: More time with friends, at school, and aquaintances. Enjoyed a very nice home-cooked meal by one of the parents of the children from school.
Fri: Visited Peace Park with a friend. Lunch with kids at primary school. Quick haircut and shop at Uniqlo (best clothes store in the world, my favourite), bought a few Japanese Bibles, went home to prepare for nice Sabbath evening meal and worship time with many who I hadn`t seen in a long time.
Sabbath was beautiful time of reunion with brothers and sisters from the church. I felt like I was welcomed back so warmly, felt at home, and didn`t want to leave. Evening at the onsen after having a real good tempura udon dinner.
Sunday: Up early again, on the trains for Kawagoe where I met one of my Japanese friends from Melbourne who`s moved back to Saitama (near Tokyo). Nice little touristy town, also known as Little Edo (old Tokyo). Back to Tokyo station to meet Henry, Kiri and their Mum! Met with no problems and found with motel in Ginza without a hitch. Enjoyed very nice traditional Japanese dinner.
Monday: Hamarikyu Gardens, boat cruize up Sumidagawa River, meal in Asakusa, Sensouji Temple and Shrine, Ameyoko road-side stalls, Ochanomizu Bible shopping, Akihabara electric city shops, Ginza high-class shopping.
So, that brings us to now. Tomorrow we`ll go to: Imperial Palace, Shinjuku shops & city view, Yoyogi Park, Meiji Jingu shrine, Harajuku fashion and shops, Shibuya scramble crossing, Roppongi mid-town lifestyle complex, Hello Kitty store in Ginza, Odaiba for dinner with bayside city views.
Wednesday: to Hokkaido where we`ll spend 5 days or so going to Sapporo, Toyako & Furano where there are some real nice natural scenes including flower fields, lakes, mountains, volcanoes and views. Fly back to Kanto area and go to Hakone for 2 nights, then Kyoto and back to Australia.
29 June 2010
uneventful flight meaning I had a good chance to get some "vertical"
rest, but, so happenned I got a seat next to a uni student from, of
all places, Hiroshima! She ws return back home to Japan after studying
a year studying abroad. So spent a good chunk of the time in the air
talking in a mixture of English and Japanese (which is often the case)
reducing the apparent flight time.
Didn't make the connection to get the bus to Sumoto to catch up with
my Jamaican friend, so went back to Osaka and grabbed some yakisoba.
Was soooo tired, hungry and just wanted to lie down!!! Found some
accommodation for 4 hours near Osaka station. Bathroom was pretty
fancy with all the gadgets: spa, tv, number different control panels
Just managed to get up at 5:15am to train to Sannomiya and bus to
Sumoto. Was really worth it, even though only 4 hours.
Then bullet trained up to Tokyo to see Ryuichi, great friend from
Hiroshima but now in Chiba. Had really nice teishoku meal, walked
around Chiba port and enjoyed hanging out with Ryuichi. Slept over at
his place, up at 8:30, and now on a crowded train to Tokyo where I'll
transfer to go to Maebashi in Gunma to see some good family friends!
Even though I'd lived in Japan 2 years, still a few firsts: fly into
Kansai Airport, go to Sumoto on Awajishima, travel on world's longest
central span (~2km) bridge to Awajishima, use JR Pass with unlimited
shinkansen use for a week, sleep horizontal on non crowded bullet
train, go in non-Nozomi and non-Tokaido shinkansen, stop over in Chiba
city, and today, go to Gunma prefecture.
All the things about Japan are coming back to my mind. Humid rainy
season, cheap convenience store food, very ordered society, cleanness,
systems and industry, road markings, little things, fashion, high
quality and standards, non-emotive public interaction, real genuine
kindness, and I could go on and on.
I'm really enjoying being back, have plenty of opportunity to practice
Japanese. Well, it's now time for some brekky on the Shinkansen.
27 June 2010
flight for Japan. Yay!!! Since I'm on the move again, thought it would
be fitting to write a blog post after a 1 year blog famine.
I look out the window to the glorious airport view and Hsbc bank
advertising, but notice a full round silver disc in the sky. Yes,
still dark, 6am, winter, and spent a lovely airport sleep trying to
convince myself I was comfortable and apparently asleep!
Flew up last night from Melbourne, saw what I thought was a near full
moon, but later found out when the announcer spoke, that it was an
eclipse! Haha! Tricked Brad again.
This tome I'm gonna take shots of "Ok" my little travelling companion
which my Mum gave me when I was in Japan. It's a little stuffed
kangaroo. You'll see him in the pics. He's been around Asia and had
shots with famous people in Tiananmann Square!
Good number of Japanese people in line and at waiting area making me
feel like I'm on the way and nearly there. Spent 2 years living in
Japan and a year later am finding myself back there.
So, the plan is something like this:
Jun 26 Sydney, 27 Osaka, 28 Tokyo, 30 Hiroshima, Jul 4 Tokyo, 7
Hokkaido, 11 Hakone, 13 Kyoto, 14 Brisbane, 15 Melbourne.
Mostly looking forward to spending time with really good friends! Miss
them a lot: students I taught English, teachers, parents, colleagues,
kids, church members, travel mates, and Aussie friends. Then, being a
bit of a tour guide/translator for friends from Melbourne and checking
out some of the best in Japan!
The sky is beginning to lighten a little as we ebb towards sunrise,
reminding me of the long haul before I reach my next resting place
around 11:30 pm, after 2 flights, couple of shuttle buses, ferry and
bus ride. Spending tonight with a good English teaching buddy in
Sumoto, near Kobe.
What to do now but psych myself to try and rest on the plane... or
practice a bit of Japanese, depending.
Well, iPhones are handy. Typed this blog on it, signed up for travel
insurance, ordered some Bibles, planned more of my crazy schedule
using Japanese train timetables, emailed people to plan meeting up,
bought a bit of new music to listen to, made a few calls... All on
this silly little thong through the wee hours of 3 and 4 am.
Ok, time to go and climb inside this big metal bird which will deliver
me to the land of the rising sun (at night time).