The A-Dome

That is what we have in our hotel window right now. Makes me sad. Hiroshima obviously doesn’t dwell on its painful past, but visiting the Peace Museum and seeing tricycles bent and melted makes me wish some things had not come to pass. Human folly, eh. As a species, we are so screwed.

One of Hiroshima’s survivors was a little girl named Sadako. Read her story here and about this monument to her name. Brought tears to my eyes.

Connection is misbehaving. Pictures of our 26km-long bike ride along the Shimanami Kaido will be coming later. My butt and knees are so sore.

UPDATE (photos, finally!)

Along the bike ride, deserted farms, abandoned houses and flattened corn. Proof that Godzilla exists?

The actual madness in map form, all 75kms of it. We did 26 and it was plenty.


No Outlet

Sorry we missed a day.

We spent a good chunk of yesterday cooking. Indeed! We had booked ourselves with Haru Japanese cooking class (we found them through Tripadvisor). What a treat! I highly recommend it to anyone. Did you know tofu is made from soy milk and a Super Secret Ingredient named…erm…I forgot! Anyway. You boil the milk in water with The Secret Ingredient, then it bonds and forms tofu. Like magic!

Last night, we stayed at a lovely, lovely ryokan named Shiraume. It was so lovely that we kind of took a day off to relax and put our feet up. You should have seen the breakfast of champions we were served (in our bedroom, thank you very much). We felt like royalty.

Today was not as relaxing. First, we decided to stay one night longer in Kyoto instead of heading for Hiroshima (sorry, Hiroshima, I’m sure you’re great and we’ll see you tomorrow but our love story with Kyoto could not end today). Second, it was 30,000 degrees. In the shade, man. In the shade. Of course, that’s the day we chose to hike up a hill, along with 10,000 of our closest friends. But what a sight it was. Check this out:

The stuff of magazine covers!


I’m starting to think I have a roof fetish…

And of course, what visit to Kyoto would be complete without a sighting of the famous Headless Ducks? We stayed a good 2 hours, just sitting by the river Kamo (splits the city north/south and is amazing at helping lost tourists, just sayin’) and it was amazing. Until the eagles came and started to dive-bomb the cranes and pigeons. Then it wasn’t so much fun anymore.

Sore Feet and Big Smiles

Today was full of impromptu events and wading into unchartered territory. And department stores (see teenage son traveller page for details)! But first, pictures!

Imperial palace grounds. Lots of pebbles there, too. And glorious architecture. And trees. I got to pat a dog (for those who know me, that’s always a big deal). A cute caramel-coloured, 5 month old toy poodle named Kuko (pretty sure it was that).

Don’t know what these are, but when I spotted that bush of lovelies, I turned to son and said “photo…must take photo…photooooo”. He just rolled his eyes and obliged. He’s a good photographer!

We were walking around our neighbourhood when he happened on this gem, Heian-jingu. Wow. I think it’s the one in the movie Lost in Translation. Not sure. Either way, it was beautiful and deserted for a good 15 minutes before the buses disgorged hordes of tourists into the place. We left with great pictures and a dozen pebbles in our sandals.

Got stuck on a deserted subway wagon. There was an announcement, but not being speakers of Japanese, we didn’t get what they said. It probably went like this “please disembark now as this train is about to be parked in a darkened tunnel and only fools would spend 5 minutes in a darkened wagon wondering what the HELL IS GOING ON!!!!” Luckily, the conductor spotted us and came over, all smiles, to tell us he was going to reverse the train and drop us off at the previous station. I wanted to kiss his feet.

Fuel that comes from the sky, man. From the sky.

A Thousand Red Gates

That would be Fushimi-Inari-Taisha shrine. And it’s as gorgeous as in the magazine photos. The red is so…RED. Seriously. I’ve never seen that shade of red, and coupled with the lush green of the forest, it makes for a vivid and ethereal effect. As if you’re somewhere else in time. They was praying going on, so we didn’t take a lot of pictures of the actual temple (plus it’s a sacred place, so we didn’t feel right pulling out the camera). But the gates were fair game! Feast your eyes on this:

Vermillion as far as the eye can see. And teenage traveller son.

We have a pocket wi-fi. Do you think we checked before walking the 5km in midday 32 degree sun to see the sacredest place of all sacred places: The Manga Museum (teenage traveller son’s Number One item on wish list). And this is what we found when we got there. I think I heard his heart break. Ice cream followed. Poor kid.

Then it was on to Hongan-ji shrine (a corner of it, anyway), another treat for the eyeballs. Under renovations, but majestic even with the plastic wrap. Ok, the photo s sideways and I don’t know why. I keep flipping it and it won’t stick. Sorry!

Shinkansen Blur



When we had to switch trains, we had to figure this out… Fun times.

I couldn’t believe how many rice fields there were. All along the 2 hours train ride, we saw either industrial-looking patches of buildings, interspersed with rice fields and other, nondescript fields. But what I wanted to know was…where are the cows, man?! Not a single one along 300kms of train-track fields. Something happened to the cows here. Something bad.

Then the view changed from fields to mountains when we passed Nagoya. You can almost see the shape of the mountains through the fog/haze. It was muggy and heavy, but the green shone through quite nicely. That’s a thing I’m liking here, the shades of green. And the lovely, lovely customer service

Red Eyes

Adult female traveller’s mood: tired

Teenage son traveller’s mood: asleep, if that counts

Our first morning. One o’clock qualifies as morning, right…?

I broke my cardinal rule about jetlag:

Thou shalt not go to bed too early

I should have known going to bed at 7pm would come bite me in the butt. But we were so tired!

As I (uncreepily) watch son rest in blissful sleep, I think about the day ahead. He doesn’t know we’re about to spend 6 hours visiting temples and other old things in Kyoto. So I let him rest, for now.¬†Mwa ha haaaa!

The arrival to the airport was eventless and smooth. For 6480Y (about 85$), we have a nice, big room for the night, free internet, supper and next-morning breakfast for two people. Not bad at all. The hotel is older and a bit tired, but meticulously clean. They even provide you with pyjamas from a cabinet in the lobby (it’s a tall cabinet with some sort of ultraviolet light inside…looks like a giant wine cooler). Also, when we walked in, the first thing we saw were four vending machines along the far wall. With a squee, we both rushed to them and lovingly ran our hands over their shiny surfaces. Our preciousssss. I’ll try to find a way to upload pictures from the Playbook to the blog. So far, the files are so big, the connection times out. But fear not, there is a teenager, surely he can figure this out.

In the meantime, I think I’ll go do a recce mission and see if I can’t find some snacks to bring back to our lair.

UPDATE: Pictures! Finally!

Son in his hotel pyjamas on video chat with dad and showing the various nifty things there are in our room, such as the old-school light controls (“with DIALS, dad, like the old times!” Teens…

Two drinks we will never, ever, ever buy again. Not to our taste, eh. I thought son was being a diva when he took a sip and when “arghhhhh”. Then I took one…My jaw nearly locked. BITTER!