It's getting chilly now!
Hello, hola, こにちは～！Nearing the end of November yeah if course it is starting to get really cold, which means its time for some of the best fashion: Winter clothes. Cool coats, hats and what not—I'm always a big fan! With the changing seasons I have also decided to change my hair to its most natural state of sporting an afro, which has been a little tricky to maintain on my own but it is worth it to see everyone's reactions to the new style. To those who don't really know the process of maintaining super curly kinky natural hair, this is a big deal for me since it means daily attendance to making sure my hair was looking right for the next day. It was perfect timing for the Hiroshima trip that sort of snuck up on me after midterms, allowing for a much needed break that I'm pretty sure most of the students were looking forward to. To me, it was almost like a signaling of my journey in Japan coming to an end, so the trip had a bit of a melancholic feeling to it despite everything that was going on. Perhaps that is just my own idealistic brain painting things to be more dramatic or monumental but to me it really did feel like when you realize you only have a few more episodes of a show left, and its coming to a close.
Shinkansen and a New Old Vibe
For me this was my first time on the bullet train since being in Japan, and man I was worried about my motion sickness acting up. At the beginning I was feeling it a little bit but once we started moving quite fast I quickly started feeling better for the four hour ride down to Hiroshima Station. It was so crazy just watching the landscape changing from tall buildings and densely packed commercial areas to mountains, farms and more sparsely spread out towns where you could distinctly see where the shopping central was of each. Passing by so quickly it really did make me wonder what it would be like to live in a small town, just seeing this train blazing by for but a moment, heading across the country. Not stopping in your town since it doesn't have a station for the bullet train but just cutting right through it or skimming by the edge of town. Small thoughts like that sort of drift in and out of my head when things were blurring by the window, yet without looking it really didn't feel like we were moving at all—so it was quite the contrast. Without looking at the window the only indication that we've traveled such a great distance were from the stops announced, and I felt it when we easily got through Kyoto. It was such a brief stop, and then we just kept on going south towards our destination.
When arriving in Hiroshima the first thing I immediately noticed was just the entire passive energy of the area was a lot calmer than everywhere I had been. Akihabara was electric, Meiji Shrine still had this feeling of peace surrounded by a constantly bustling city but here just felt like a sustained peace. There were street cars in the center of the major roads, something that I've probably only seen in person as a novelty thing but here was a very integral part of the transportation system here. The overall architecture felt aged in comparison to the hyper urbanism of Tokyo, which was honestly a welcome change to me as we made our way to the hotel. A silly moment was that while crossing the street a giant group of kids were coming the opposite way, all waving and saying hello to us in English as we then responded cheerfully in a mix of Japanese and English. Just a small nugget of a memory I'll remember. From the hotel, there was a river probably five minutes walking distance, and at night time the city twinkled with charm with these rolling mountains as a backdrop. It really just felt like an old but somehow also new feeling city, which continued to fascinate me the more I just observed the landscape.
This is just a quick thing about all of the different absolutely delicious food I got to partake in while in Hiroshima. This included Okonomiyaki which is a super famous food from the city! It's like fried noodles and it was pretty tasty~! Momiji manju was also a top tier little treat, which were these little cracker like cookies with red bean paste that was sweet and made me want to eat thirty, but I restrained myself. Instead, I made sure to bring back a bunch of snacks for my host family! Another random food highlight was this restaurant that the entire group got to eat at which had the freshest food ever. I wanted to try and eat everything that was offered but my tiny stomach did the best I could since it was absolutely spectacular. Fresh shrimp and fish, crispy tempura, a delicious lemon glazed mochi for dessert—I felt so honored to even be eating all of this stuff, it was insane!
Now I ate a lot of tasty food, but my personal award for the most memorable requires a little story. Among the group that went to Hiroshima, I heard a rumor that there was a really good taco place nearby the hotel. "Tacos? Here?" I thought it was out of place, but I was intrigued none the less. So I gathered two of my friends with no plans and took a roundabout route to this place called Otis. It looked quite stylized from outside, and one of my friends had already previously been there so this was a recommendation more than anything. I noticed it was Tex-Mex and vegan food from the outside sign, but inside I was instantly fascinated even further. A Dominican Republic flag. Okay! Alright! And the music seemed to be reggae? And the customers that I saw seated were all groups of foreigners just like us. ALRIGHT! Where was I?
The place was run by this really sweet elderly Japanese couple and I must say the food was delicious. I juts got a hot cocoa (It was cold aight?) and some beef tacos and man...those tacos were definitely some of the best I've ever received from an establishment before. Unforgettable. The atmosphere was all cozy too? It was just a great night out with my friends and I just talked with the owner a bit about how much I enjoyed the food and the decorations. It was really random to find this place in Hiroshima, Japan of all places but one thing he said that stuck with me was that he hoped to see us again. He said it with such sincerity, and that really panged my heart a certain way because I was only going to be in Hiroshima for 4 days. And...only in Japan for so much longer. Like what if I come back and you're not there sir? I don't know why but that thought really hurt my heart since it's just him and his wife running the place from what I saw. I hope I can see him again one day.
Shrines and 幸せ～！
Okay on this journey we visited a bunch of different shrines around the area, but of course the crowning gem of it all was going to Itsukushima Shrine with local university students! This shrine is a giant red torii gate that you can only walk up to when the tide is low since when its high tide it returns to floating on the water. Miyajima island was an absolute blast with the group I went with, as we just got to do a bunch of touristy things together while just marveling at our surroundings. There were a crepe ton of people around just because it was a holiday, but I didn't mind it one bit. The excitement was in the air! And we bounced around from one part of the island to the other on a whim. Despite the very happy nature of everything, I saw something out of the corner of my eye I wished to investigate, so we did. It was a part of the shrine where people would write wishes and hopes on a plaque of wood to get them recognized for the incoming year.
Now I just felt the need to mention this because maybe all of the emotions running high at the time were getting to me, but it felt like everything went dead quiet for me while walking over there. The only thing I could hear was the gentle breeze coming from the ocean and the soft creaking of wood under my feet as I trotted up carefully. I felt like the air to the area had to be pierced like a veil despite it being outside, and then I found myself standing in front of hundreds of people's wishes and desires, written in all sorts of languages. To me, it was really breathtaking for some reason. Some were really silly or lighthearted. Others were earnest and innocent. But some were really heart wrenching because despite it all just being words on wood, it really meant more than that? And one in particular that got to me was of a person wishing that someone else could have seen the sight they were seeing that day. A child who had passed away far too young, and never got to smell the sea water or feel the warm sun on them here. Yeah, I started crying once I read the plaque since I just felt a rush of...I don't know. I just felt the need to cry for this person who I'd never met.
Although the entire day was a blast, I definitely felt a bit melancholic about the whole thing since I was meeting such amazing people for the first time but had to say goodbye the same day. It stung! The distance between Hiroshima and Tokyo really hit me when some of the students talked about the places they wanted to go t in Tokyo and I was just like "Oh...Oh right." That privilege hit me hard. And it made me ever thankful even got to befriend them, and come to Hiroshima. Come to Japan you know? It really made me happy. Like purely, just joyous I even got the chance to experience all of these emotions since sometimes it can really feel all static and grey sometimes. Having such a flurry of all of these feelings was something I'll never take for granted, but sometimes I guess I wished I could do more with this body of mine. Only what's within my control I suppose.
Just Like a Dream
Well the ride back to Tokyo station was quieter than expected but it made sense. We were all exhausted out of our minds. But It gave me some quiet reflection time since holy crepe we don't have much time in Japan! I've had an absolutely amazing time here and it is sort of bitter sweet realizing it is all coming to a close so soon—It only felt like yesterday when I was dying of food poisoning! But with what days we have left I'm going to make sure to live each one to the absolute fullest since I like to go out with a bang when it comes to things like this! Shrug off the pain and tiredness for the sake of the moment! I'll worry about that sort of stuff later~! So for all who are reading I hope you are happy and healthy, so until next time! Bye bye, Adios and じゃね～！
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I am an extroverted, amicable and overall goofy nerd who loves throwing herself in the deep end and coming back to tell the tale of how I did it! I love anything about culture, history and languages. I try to write for your enjoyment~