31 October 2007


Sunday is Sunday. There's something about it... it's more relaxed, time to chill out a bit, do whatever. Last Sunday was like that.

Had the usual 1 hour adult English class. Met up with some of the kindy teachers for lunch. That was a lot of fun. We each practiced our second languages (English for them, Japanese for us). 1500 yen (AU$15) for all you can eat at a nicely designed Japanese restaurant in the city. Good to get to know the teachers a bit better.

Browsed down-town a little (near Hondori, the main shopping mall in Hiroshima) and then headed off for a bike ride up Ou-gon-zan, the closest tall hill to the city centre. The hill is about 200 m above sea level. Most of the city is not much above sea level. So, the mountain gives good views over the city centre, suburbs, sea, bay, mountains, rivers, islands etc. The suburbs spead out like "star" shapes, pushing up the narrow areas of flat land between the mountains, on either side of rivers. Tall, steep mountains break up the urban sprawl.

We rode past some nice Japanese suburbs and houses. Some of the lanes are soooo small! No wonder the cars are (on average) much smaller here. The houses are very close to the road and each other. Cars are parked just centimeters from walls, houses, roads etc.

The houses near Ou-gonzan have a nice, quiet, neighourhood feel about them--Kids playing, youths chatting, adults relaxing, with the nearby mountain behind. Rode past a cemetry. Cemetries in Japan are different. Graves are about one foot square (not the length of a body) because bodies are burned. They are almost all grey. Ashes from multiple family members are placed under the one grey "pillar", which is less than a metre high.

The city scape of Hiroshima is quite different to Aussie cities. Aussie cities have a well defined area of tall buildings sky scraper towers (40 to 100 stories), usually a few square kilometers in area. It's clear to see where the CBD is. Then, medium height buildings (10 to 20 stories) in the nearby suburbs, and the rest of the city is houses with back yards etc. In Hiroshima, there are only a few buildings of more than 30 stories. Less than 10 buildings, I'd say. These dot the central area. Then, much of rest of the city is made up of apartments and office buildings of between 10 and 20 stories, not just close to the city, but right across it. With about 1 million people in Hiroshima city (largest city this end of Japan's main island), it has a flatter city centre, but "taller" suburbs, than, say, Brisbane or Melbourne. Hiroshima city does feel not so big as Brisbane, even though it's more than half the size.

The visual design of technology in Japan is, what I'd call, "square". The mobile phones are a lot more square looking than the Aussie phones, and the cars are also a lot more square. Not exactly sure why, but square things are more efficient with space and area. Maybe they also look more technologically advanced? Anyhow, I don't mind it. Kind of looks good.

Well, my students have arrived. Must go to teach some more English.

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