Going exploring in Japan
Posted on May 6, 2015 by By Kristy Poisson ’16.
It has been a month since I last wrote. Settling into the routine of classes here in Tokyo has taken a bit more time than I expected. It feels as though I’ve been running around all over Tokyo. Though, last weekend, CIEE, my study abroad program, took us on a trip to Hiroshima, which was a highly impactful life experience.
On Friday afternoon, we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima. It took us four hours to get from Tokyo Station to Hiroshima going more than 100 miles per hour. The Shinkansen was actually a fun experience with surprisingly spacious seating and amazing views of the rice fields and Mt. Fuji.
On Saturday, we walked from our hotel to the Peace Memorial Park and Museum. The park and museum are dedications to those who suffered from the dropping of the atomic bomb as well as a symbol of world peace. This ended up being a rather difficult day for most of us. It was the first time I had been told the story of a historical event from another perspective. The images and exhibits displayed in the museum told countless stories of tragedy, pain and regret, so unlike the version we learn in school in the United States.
The park itself was beautiful in a quiet contemplative sort of way with several memorials scattered around. The most harrowing was the A-Bomb Dome. This building once housed the Hiroshima Commercial Exhibition Hall. The building was at the hypocenter of the bomb’s explosion and remained one of the only buildings standing. What was once a building of elegant architecture is now a hollow shell that stands over the meditative scene.
On Sunday, the mood of the trip shifted to a much lighter one. We took a ferry out to Miyajima, an island just off the coast of Hiroshima famous for its picturesque floating torii (shrine gate). It felt great to be out of the crowded city atmosphere and experience somewhere slightly more rural. The island is also known for its rather docile deer population. There are so many deer just relaxing all over the main streets, and they are so calm and used to people that you can go right up and pet them. The first few minutes of being on the island was pretty much a trip to a petting zoo. We then took a walk through the Itsukushima Shrine. Walking through the traditional Japanese architecture felt like I was taking steps back in time. There was a sort of serenity and clam here that isn’t always easy to find in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
On the whole, this trip was amazing. It was great to get out and see new parts of Japan other than the big city. Hopefully I can update you all again soon! For now, I’m going to keep on exploring. See you soon!