How was your trip?

Well, thank you so much for asking. My trip to Japan was fantastic, and will spawn a number of blog posts! This first one will be a general overview of the cities I visited. There will be lots more traveller’s tales to come.

In Japan I travelled all the time with my mother, most of the time with my younger brother and some of the time with my older brother and his family.

Our first stop was Osaka, which I loved unconditionally. No “this was good but I didn’t like that”. It was a great place to walk around in, narrow streets, something interesting wherever I looked. Every corner showed a street that I wanted to walk along.

And it was quiet, because there seemed to be more bicycles than cars. Not safer though, as the cyclists are rather crazy! It was one of the contradictions of Osaka…..In Melbourne I happily walk against the red light if it is safe; in Japan I waited patiently with all the other pedestrians for the green light . Meanwhile the helmet- less cyclists would ride through red lights, go on the wrong side of the road and meander across the road, often while talking on the phone or holding an umbrella! There were no crashes because they seem to allow for the path the pedestrian is on. The only ‘accident’ we saw was a lady loosing her high-heeled shoe as she cycled!

And the food….a post for another day!

We left Osaka and travelled by train to Uno. Before I tell you about that let me rave about the train system.

Foreign tourists are able to buy a JR Rail Pass. Like a Eurail Pass, it must be bought before you enter the country but it allows unlimited travel for the life of the pass. Rail is the way to get around ~ efficient, frequent, safe, clean and goes to most areas. To get to Uno we needed 3 trains, which would seem, by anyone used to Australia’s rail system, to be rather a nightmare. However we walked into the JR office, told the clerk where we wanted to go and after a few taps on the computer, she gave us tickets for all the legs. The connections were perfect. (You only need to go into the office if you wish to reserve a seat. Otherwise you just flash your pass as you enter the station.)

Our first train was one of the Shinkansen trains. They used to be known as the bullet trains. They are sleek, fast machines.

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The next trains got progressively smaller as we got further into the country. Uno is a ferry port on the Seto Inland Sea, with stunning views over the many islands in the sea.

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We were there to visit Naoshima, aka as the Art Island, which I will tell you more about in a later post. For now let me tell you about the place where we stayed, Uno Port Inn.

It is the brain child of Max, who lived for a while in New York. He has created a welcoming place to stay that has a great vibe, including jazz streaming from a radio station in New York. There are only about half a dozen rooms, all with tatami mats, but western beds; you get the feel for Japan while still being able to get up in the mornings! There aren’t ensuites. Instead each room has its own private, well appointed little  bathroom down the corridor.

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There’s a guest lounge, and they make fabulous coffee!! The ferry is close by and the staff, who speak good English, are happy to help out with visiting Naoshima.

After two nights we were back on the two trains to Okayama and then the Shinkansen to Kyoto, to meet up with the other parts of the travelling family.

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The view from our hotel room

I love Kyoto too, but with not unconditionally.  The main streets are busy and modern, and some leading to the big temples are quite touristy. You have to get off them and, like in Osaka, just wander to find the little delights. We were staying in the Gion area of old Kyoto, so the houses were old and wooden and utterly charming (and probably expensive!) The houses and shops come right to the street, and doorways have lanterns or pot plants or maybe a tree. I was delighted to find an neighbourhood with a car mechanic, a supermarket and a hairdresser who was crocheting between clients!

Kyoto has narrow roads that run alongside canals. They are lovely to walk along during the day and quite enchanting at night.

And how could I resist this photo?!

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Off again on the Shinkansen, all the way from Kyoto to Nagasaki, which is on the western tip of Japan. We changed at Hakata from the Shinkansen to a local train, and had lovely views of the coast and the mountains.

Nagasaki is nestled into valleys, which makes it very picturesque. It also has a tram system that brought a joy to this Melbourne heart! As it’s smaller than the other cities it has a country town feel about it, despite the ship yards!

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Of course the Peace Park was the thing we wanted to see. I was disappointed. It was so busy with Chinese tourists from a cruise ship and school children that it lacked any solemnity. (Although the school groups were very respectful, often with heads bowed, but they were teenagers.)

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There were lots of statues; the one that moved me most was in recognition of atomic survivors world wide, including indigenous Australians, service personnel and civilian workers who were affected by British nuclear testing in Maralinga. This is a world wide issue, and one one that has become so prominent again.

Back on the trains again to our last stop at Hiroshima.

It is a very modern city, as so much of it was wiped out in by the first atomic bomb in 1945. Although many parts of Nagasaki was destroyed, I think a lot of it was saved because of the hills and valleys. Hiroshima, like many Japanese cities is very flat, with the mountains in the background. The blast just radiated out.

The A bomb dome and Peace Park area were more solemn than Nagasaki ~ fewer people and a drizzly rain helped build the atmosphere. There are many memorials discretely through the park, while the A Bomb Dome rightly dominates.

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There is a very moving memorial to the victims of the bombing. Oral accounts were collected in 1950, and those survivor stories are told in this memorial. Stories that world leaders who talk of annihilation should be forced to listen to.

The Children’s Memorial is another place that touched me. You probably know the story of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes. Now children from all over the world fold cranes and some are displayed both at Nagasaki and here in Hiroshima.

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Some cranes have been created into pictures.

Shikkeien is a beautiful old Japanese garden not far from the epicentre of the bomb. It was devastated by the blast, but has since been rebuilt, to provide a serene and restful antidote.

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So that’s the overview. We took the Shinkansen directly from Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka and then the airport train to Kansai airport. So easy!

I still have lots to tell you, but my adventures in fabric shops and restaurants will have to wait for another time.

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About anne54

Botanic artist
This entry was posted in Travels and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to How was your trip?

  1. katechiconi says:

    Deep envy… I’m very much looking forward to more about the trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fabulous photographs and excellent prose depicting what was clearly a wonderful trip

    Like

  3. nanacathy2 says:

    So ambivilant about this. The bomb saved my Dad’s life, and so me.

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      I understand why you say that, Cathy. For me it reinforced my anti-war stance, and was a reminder of how close we are to nuclear attack a the moment, and what a disaster that would be.

      Like

  4. M. L. Kappa says:

    Yes, deep envy from me too, and looking forward to the rest… So a beautiful country – why must there be war memorials everywhere? Why can’t people live in peace? We seem to learn nothing from history…

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      Japan is a very easy country to move around in too.There will be more posts coming! I think the memorials are important, as a reminder of how devastating nuclear weapons can be. But, looking at what is happening in this area at moment, the lesson is not being learnt.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. acflory says:

    Welcome back! And thanks for these wonderful photos. Without the internet and travellers such as yourself, I’d never get to see some of the lovelies sights of this world. 🙂

    Like

  6. tialys says:

    I am envious too. Before my aversion to longhaul air travel set in I visited quite a few far flung places but I’ve never been to Japan and would love to see it. I know for a fact I’m going to be even more envious when I see the fabric shops.

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      Those long haul flights are awful. Fortunately it is only about 9 hours from Melbourne to Japan, although we did have to stop at Hong Kong. And the time difference was only an hour, so jet lag isn’t an issue. I thought of you and my quilting/sewing bloggy friends when I was in these shops. Perhaps I should include online shopping links in my fabric post. 😉

      Like

  7. Catherine says:

    I’ve been watching your posts on instagram and am loving everything I see! It certainly looks like an amazing trip. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  8. carlseapatch says:

    Thank you for the overview Anne, I am hoping to travel to Japan in the future.

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      Now I am envious that you are travelling there! I would be back in a flash. I can highly recommend it as a place to travel in. Let me know if there is anything you would like to know.

      Like

  9. cedar51 says:

    and looking forward to “food, glorious food” and your take on said “food”…

    Like

  10. KerryCan says:

    Whew–what a whirlwind! I’m out of breath just reading your post! It looks like an amazing trip and the visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki must’ve seemed especially relevant and haunting, given the escalating foolishness between North Korea and he who shall not be named . . .

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      It didn’t seem rushed. My Mum is 91, so I organised the itinerary so that we had time to rest. Yes, that ‘foolishness’ was certainly at the front of my mind in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

      Like

  11. Hi Anne This is brilliant. I love the way you incorporate your photos and bring it all to life. I will look forward to the next instalment. Hope to catch up soon. Love Judy xx

    Sent from my iPad

    Like

    • anne54 says:

      So glad you are enjoying, Judy. It was a fabulous trip that Mum loved too. I was so impressed by her. Fancy being able to do all that travelling, walking and being open to new experiences at 91! We will catch up soon. xxx

      Like

  12. Pingback: Fabric and fashion in Japan | Anne Lawson

  13. Pam Murison says:

    I almost feel I have been there too, Anne. Great photos and writings.love Pam

    Like

  14. Pingback: Naoshima, the Japanese Art Island | Anne Lawson

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