Friday July 9th

By Michael Gakuran | | Journal | Leave a comment |

Friday July 9th

Himeji Castle and Hiroshima

We left really early today to take the Shinkansen to Himeji Castle. Heather and I translated a bit of Winnie-the-Pooh on the way there and I think it was today that my odd mind spawned the infamous monkey thumb, inspired after seeing Heather’s gorilla key ring. Coupled with Simon’s ‘ook’ cry, we had a brand new in-joke for the GCSE Japanese phraseology! Hehe ^_^.

Swivel seats on the train!
I think it was the hottest day on the trip – that awful hike up to the castle in the 35C sun (for which the umbrellas came out again). There was a really nice breeze through the windows at the very top of the castle, so it was worth it to cool down. I didn’t really look at anything inside the castle on the way up because of the heat and the steep climb. It was difficult to really appreciate it, as I said in yesterday’s entry, so it’s definitely something to re-visit at a later (cooler) time if I can. We all bought ice poles from one of the omnipresent vending machines when we got down. Seriously, there are vending machines absolutely everywhere. We mainly saw drinks machines (for which we are ever grateful and out of pocket to…), but we also came across ones selling ice cream , photographic films and pocky (yay!).

Afterwards we headed to Hiroshima War Memorial Museum where I used an audio guide when looking around. It was very profound and interesting. I think the newest piece of information I took away was that the shell actually exploded in mid air (known as the hypocentre). It was all very ‘interesting’, if I can use the word, but also moving and it conveyed the serious anti-nuclear message well. We were filmed while looking at the surviving tree in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and a few of us spoke about our thoughts and feelings to the camera.

We had okonomiyaki for dinner. An older Japanese man came into the restaurant packed with all 21 of us looking for a seat. He ended up taking the last seat in the small restaurant next to me and we quickly established that he wasn’t shy… “Where are you from?”, “What school are you in?” – etc. He told me to call him ‘Kay’ (K-san I think)… When I ask him how to spell his name he told me “K, like King” ^_^;. I think he was about 60 years old; originally a sales representative before working for an environmental company. It probably sounds rather tame, but having a complete stranger start talking to you in the (drunken?) manner he did and asking lots of questions is rather surprisingly, and immensely entertaining ^_^.

(Left to Right) K-san, myself and Greg!
Things got even funnier when I started talking about the differences between American and British English pronunciation with words like ‘tomato’ and ‘vitamin’. He also started asking about the teachers and kept forgetting Mr. Irving’s surname. At one point, he even shouted across the room: “Irving-san! Biology!”. He spoke to Shaun and Greg a little as well and kept questioning Shaun’s name when he was told it over and over again: “Shaun-san? What do you mean??.

The whole thing was hilarious, and I got to practise my Japanese a little (for which I received a ‘joozu’! :P). In fact, I was so preoccupied with him the whole time; I only got to eat about 1/4 of my dinner! Even his goodbye was funny: “I’m feeling the separation already”. Fantastic ^_^. The only other thing that was interesting after that experience was the fact that the train warden turned and bowed after walking to the end of every carriage, I noticed on the way home. Once again, so professional and polite.

Pachinco in Kyoto

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