Kansai / Western Honshu Blitz

I’ve returned safe and sound from another excellent excursion. Talk about insane – over the last four days I’ve spent time in Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Onomichi, and Fukuyama, traveling on planes, trains, streetcars, ferries, cable cars…  I’ll try to keep the narrative short though. As many of you know, my friend/college roommate Maria is in Japan for two weeks, so I flew to Osaka on Thursday night and bussed out to Kyoto to meet her.  We enjoyed a night-time stroll around the city, grabbed some okonomiyaki and crashed for the night.


Kyoto Tower
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Friday morning we made an early start for Osaka, heading out to the bay to check out the Tempozan area.  We took a ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, which was the world’s largest ferris wheel until the construction of the London Eye and totally satisfied our desire for randomness.  In the afternoon, we swept by Himeji, home of Himeji-jo, Japan’s most spectacular castle.  Maria and I also spontaneously decided to buy ourselves yukata (summer kimono), which was exciting.  We crashed in a Hiroshima business hotel that night.


Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel, Osaka
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Maria & Kristi, Himeji Castle
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Saturday morning was all about Hiroshima. Maria and I wandered the Peace Memorial Park, hitting major attractions such as the A-Bomb Dome, the Cenotaph for the Bomb Victims, and the Eternal Flame before heading into the incredibly moving Peace Memorial Museum. This was my second time seeing these parts of Hiroshima, and they were even more striking the second time around, if that’s even possible.


A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Statues, Hiroshima
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

In the afternoon, we took a ferry out to Miyajima to meet Eric and his girlfriend Saya. Miyajima is home to one of Japan’s three most beautiful spots (again with the ranking), a vermillion “floating” torii. It is also home to a large number of temples and native deer and monkeys (the deer were much more chill than in Nara, btw). This has to be one of the most picturesque places I’ve seen in Japan – a real favorite.


Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Friends and Fun, Miyajima
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.


Torii Sunset, Miyajima
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

But no, the fun wasn’t over yet – the four of us went back into Hiroshima City to catch a little of something really special at the Hiroshima Yukata Festival. People were everywhere, dressed in brightly colored summer kimono, eating food from the many vendors on the street, and generally having a good time. At some point, we ducked into Molly Malone’s, an Irish pub in the city and proceeded to gorge ourselves on such delicacies as fish and chips and the ever-illusive “real” hamburger. Afterwards, we parted ways and pretty much passed out from sheer exhauston.

Sunday was the big departure day. Maria embarked on a rather extended journey out to Hakone, Saya went shopping, and Eric and I took a train bound for Onomichi, where we went up a small mountain, looked at a “castle” for sale, and had yummy Thai food at what appeared to be an abandoned hotel. (Random adventures are the best, aren’t they?) Afterwards, Eric kindly shuttled me to Fukuyama Station and I began the train-bus-plane-car journey back to my comfy home in Kamo. Phew, glad that’s over.

And now? Now I’m kind of shell-shocked from the busy weekend and a very busy workday – anxious to get some rest. I think I’ll close with one of the funniest things I’ve seen in Japan, a miraculous combination of Engrish and illustration:


“We do not hope to be such a monkey.”
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Click here to check out my full photo set. (There’s some fun stuff!)

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