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Japan Trip Day 7: To the Island

I overslept. Again. But I could still make it to my train if I hurried. 14 minutes to departure. I was in bed in a capsule wearing only a yukata. The timer starts now!

To the Island!

By the time I make it down the stairs and change into my clothes, I have 6 minutes left. Within a minute and a half, I've located an underground path to Okayama station. The problem is that the underground path system is a maze, and the staton complex is probably bigger than most Japanese castles. By the time I reach the platform, it's the departure time. Time's up. Except, the Shinkansen was a few minutes late and had not arrived at the station yet! Even better, as I board the train, I even find a seat that isn't right next to someone else, despite the reserved section being fully booked a week ago. By the time I get off, the delay was absorbed.

Don't be a smartphone zombie

Figure 1 - Don't be a smartphone zombie

While waiting for a train in Mihara, I spotted something for the first time; a native with sweat-stained clothing. Also, I was just reminded of that a lot of stations have a little melody playing when the train arrives and departs. I've also heard a town melody play over the town-wide PA system. It's a little creepy, it reminds me of the kind of thing you'd see in a totalitarian regeme needing control of it's people. But I guess their usage of it isn't quite as dark. Another observation, a vending machine operator just started emptying cash from the vending machine. Carefully putting banknotes and couns into string-shut cloth bags, while spilling coins all over the ground. Just him, no guards or anything.

A dragonfly got into the train. It made a hell of an escape attempt before calming down.

Figure 2 - A dragonfly got into the train. It made a hell of an escape attempt before calming down.

The train is packed with tourists. And unsurprisingly, they all get off where I get off, Tadanoumi. A station attendant lays down a ramp between the train and the platform to get a wheelchair onboard. Silly me, I checked google maps before leaving the station. Everyone was heading the same direction anyway. You know you're heading the right way when you start seeing signs with rabbits on them. And at their ticket sales, I enter the first properly long line since I exchange my JR pass order at the airport. I guess I'm heading into tourist territory now. You know that they are used to lines when there's vending machines along the line for the ticket machine. Well, it was only a 12 minute wait. The ferry was late though, not departing until we were supposed to be there, which is almost a 15 minute delay. considering the boatload of tourists that boarded, I do understand why.

I was on a boat!

Figure 3 - I was on a boat!

At the Island

As I walk away from the port, I spot a chinese guy with an entire grocery bag full of rabbit feed. I guess he got plans. I am now in Õkunishima, or as it's usually refered to, Usagishima "Rabbit Island." An island that used to hide Japans war gas production during the war. At some point between the allied troops dismantling it all and now, the island got drenched in rabbits. The connection between the two is debated, but it was probably just some students in the 70s released some of their own pet rabbits during a field trip. If you got a few rabbits, you soon have a whole bunch of rabbits. And they really are everywhere. Look in the shadows next to a road and you probably won't have to walk more than 50 meters before seeing a bunch of them. Usually in clusters of 2-5, but sometimes lone ones.

Ruins of what I think was the actual poison gs factory!

Figure 4 - Ruins of what I think was the actual poison gs factory!

It takes very little to gather a bunch of them

Figure 5 - It takes very little to gather a bunch of them

At least there's plenty of tourists to feed them in the summer. Boatloads of them buying rabbit food in the port or bringing vegetables for them to munch ob, but I wonde what hap

The walk around the island took about an hour and a half, but I took my time. At 33°C and clear skies, it was a rather hot day out. Sunscreen shield engage. The ocean breeze on the east side of the island made the walk a lot more enjoyable though.

Waiting in line for the ferry, an old lady picks up a cicada from the ground. It quietly sits on the fence next to us, scaring some young women who aparently don't like insects. Suddenly it takes off, soaring towards the mainland. Until it is blown back by the wind, soaring past everyone in the queue, until it crashes right by my feet. That was fun.

To the Other Place With Island in its Name

The trip back to Mihara with ferry and train was uneventful. I did have to stand in both however, so my feet are quite tired by now. As I'm waiting for the shinkansen, I hear the faster lines pass through at high speed with a thunderous roar. I also see a lot of people with sports merch for the "Hiroshima Carps". Is there a game going on somewhere or something?

On the shinkansen, I spot along the scrolling text about big rain. I didn't see anything in English about it, so I wonder what's up this time…

As the train rolls into Hiroshima station, I can from the street see loads of those shirts. As I get out, I even see people running street food stalls around the station wear them. And when I open Google maps, it tells me about the game. I guess it's a big deal.

I decide to walk towards the hostel, making a slight detour towards the Peace Memorial Park. Except it wasn't a short walk, almost 45 minutes from the station to the park. There's a tram line covering exactly that stretch.

Hiroshima Peace Park

I arrive late, and wasn't able to check out the museum. The park itself is a rather nice walk with some plaques and other information. And at the end of the walk, I come across the one ruin everyone knows about in Hiroshima, the A-bomb dome.

View of the A-bomb dome with the city visible in the background

Figure 6 - View of the A-bomb dome with the city visible in the background

The building is being preserved with the intention that it'll look identical to how it did just after the blast

Figure 7 - The building is being preserved with the intention that it'll look identical to how it did just after the blast

At the Hostel

After that walk, I went to the hostel to check in and do something about my dire laundry situation. Thankfully, there's some washing machnines and dryers within the hostel. I throw almost every peice of clothing I own into the washing machine. The only thing not being some kind of biohazard was my swimming trunks and a long-sleeved shirt I hadn't worn yet (lets face it, the coldest temperatures you'll find in Japan in the summer is either at the top of Mt. Fuji, or inside a building.) A full hour in the dryer was required to get everything acceptably dry. I don't know if it's the climate or the dryers here just sucking.

I spend the rest of the night hanging out with others in the common room until way too late. It's not unti 1:30 in the morning that I had published the blogs I wanted to and done my japanese for today. It's going to be a short night of sleep. Past me scheduled present me to take a train from Hiroshima at the inhumane time of 06:47. Past me is a jerk.

Other notes

After my adventure through Chizu and sitting in that park in Okayama, I appear to have been half-eaten alive by mosquitoes. Everything itches. Some of the bites are in places I'm sunburnt on.

The trains here have 3-color displays for announcements (red/orange/green). That way, they can color-code for emphasis. Why aren't we doing that too? It looks pretty neat.

Booze is pretty cheap in Japan. A 2.7 liter someting PET-bottle at 25% is ¥1190 in a convenience store. There was also a 4 liter variant, but I didn't see the price of that. I bet it also tastes as good as acetone.


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