Friday, June 30, 2017

Miyajima

My second day at Hiroshma prefecture was a trip to Miyajima island. Getting there took me around 50 minutes via Line 2 Hiroden streetcar (from Tokaiichi-machi to Miyajimaguchi) and a ten minute ferry ride to the island. 

I was an early bird! Having reached the island before 9:30am, only a few people were there, shops and restaurants were still closed. It was a Monday so I was expecting crowd to be less until afternoon came.

The grand torii of Itsukushima-jinja at high tide seemed to float on the sea.

At my back is the shrine. Entrance fee is 300 JPY.


I decided to roam around the town to get the island feel ala Japan. Clearly, I was one of the very few visitors on this street with surrounding establishments still closed.

There are a lot of trekking paths. I walked around and found many deers freely roaming and appear to be harmless.

Not only in the forest, they are also in public areas.

While looking for a place to drink, I chanced upon several interesting paths.

 A local store was selling soft cream with sweet potato. Instead of mixing altogether, the presentation was done this way which correctly describes its name. After all, it was not named as sweet potato ice cream.

Hiroshima is also known for their massive oysters. This delicious serving of grilled oysters costs 500 JPY. 

The island is mountainous which explains the steep climb. This was on my way to the five-storey Pagoda.

I was aiming to trek higher ground until this sign showed up. Of all days, the ropeway was out of service from the date of my only day in Miyajima. Instead of going through all the climb in my wornout Toms, I descended back to town before I get lost knowing there were only a few trekkers at that time and before my phone lose power. It was still morning so I was confident I will do just fine.

By 3pm, the tide had gone low allowing the Torii to show all its glory.

Having gotten too many selfies, I took courage asking some random teen girls to take a photo of me with the Torii.

All I waited was for the tide to go low and get a closer look of the Torii. As much as I wanted to wait for the sunset, I went back to Hiroshima city to dine.

Miyajima was the highlight of my Hiroshima trip. The culture of island life was just interesting and totally different from the usual Japan I see.

I still hope to see more. One day, I will see myself in Hokkaido.


Hiroshima

Prior to my last week at work, I made plans to embark on an adventure to Hiroshima. It was an impulsive decision, and I knew it would be exciting knowing the place had been in my list this year. (The Nagoya trip with T and Amber last May was supposed to be a Hiroshima trip but due to the long hours of travel --not good for kids, we chose Nagoya which is half the travel time). As much as Hokkaido was my initial plan but distance and budget considerations will only allow me to defer Hokkaido to an unknown distant time in the future. 

I chose Hiroshima because of its history. 

Hiroshima is located West part of Japan. I traveled via Shikansen (Nozomi super-express, roundtrip: 35,800 JPY). Expensive compared to via airplane but shinkansen takes you to the city center; thereby, less queue and transportation transfers. Tokyo to Hiroshima = Travel time took 4 hours.

I actually did not have any specific timetable of plan but I do have a list of places I wanted to see. By chance, Line 2 of Hiroden Hiroshima streetcar stopped at Genbaku Dome-mae which is just across Atomic Bomb Dome.

It was a cloudy Sunday and surprisingly, tourists were not many.
The structure was secured with iron fence and there are CCTV cameras installed at each corner. So this angle is one of the closest that a visitor can see.
What interested me is that this building was once a commercial exhibit hall, and the only structure to remain standing despite the major damage while the surrounding structures were totally destroyed by the bomb.

Most visitors at that time were junor high students. The building at the background is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It was unfortunate that I was not able to get in because it was closed for renovation and expected to re-open next year.

On the same day, I hastily headed to Hiroshima castle. This is the entrance that leads to it.


Finally, the obligatory selfie. The castle itself was actually a replica, and its current location is not the original spot. I was running late (nearly 6pm by the time I arrived), so I didn't bother going in. I had this tendency to panic at 'last minute' and 'closing time'. 

(I digress). Not sure if it is panic attack or there could be a proper term for this specific behaviour. I began to observe this behaviour around highschool. Remind to self: look it up. 

Not satisfied with the close-up shot, I had to walk around farther for a dramatic view.

Hiroshima's pride, Okonomiyaki.
An officemate of mine suggested me to try Hiroshima's version. Osaka's version (widely known to most) is sans noodle.

Hiroshima Hondori Street. It is a typical arcade full of shops, cafes and boutiques. This type of street is common among Japanese cities and towns.

Unlike major cities in Japan, Hiroshima does not have a subway. Besides bus, taxis, and JR operated train lines, they have innercity streetcars called Hiroden. Hiroden is easy to use and most stops take you to the nearest tourist spots. It did not take long for me to get familiar with its routes because the instructions and maps are easy to follow.
The one day pass was a cost-saving considering the starting fare rate is 160 JPY. 

This is the older model of streetcars in operation. 

This is the greener and newer model. Similar to the ones in Amsterdam. 

On the third day (my last day), I was supposed to just walk around Shukkei-en but managed to sneak Hiroshima Museum of Art into my schedule. My shinkansen schedule was at 3:17pm, so I alloted enough time in the morning for more sightseeing. 

The museum has a collection of artworks by European artists. I was surprised they have several paintings from Picasso, a few from Renoir and one from Van Gogh. My favorite was from Stanislas Lepine . I am not a huge fan of landscapes (more of a portrait fan) but that specific painting took me to his story. 

I think landscapes are harder to paint compared to portraits because there are a lot of factors to consider such that it covers a lot of objects and each must be given some effort to appear consistent with the rest. 

After the museum, I headed to Shukkei-en.

Shukkei-en is a Japanese garden that dates way back. It was said that some of the bomb survivors took shelter in this garden, and some unfortunately died and later buried here.

Carp!

One of the many pathways around the park.

Hiroshima Carp is the name of Hiroshima's baseball league. Summer is baseball season in Japan and don't get me started how fanatic and loyal the Japanese are to their home teams. In Chiba, we have the Chiba Lotte Giants.

Hiroshima was memorable and a trip worth it. It was the farthest prefecture I have visited by myself in Japan and it was a pleasure to have seen its wonders.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Last day at Work

Yesterday, 23rd June 2017, marked my last day with the Company. It had been four and half years of stress..but beautiful stress that contributed to my professional growth.

I was surprised to have not cried during the last day while giving my speech of farewell. Not because I cared less but because I had the whole month prior to grieve over everything. My notification was relayed a month before and the days after that, I found myself teary-eyed over almost anything that I would miss. 

My colleagues were nice enough to give me a card full of sweet messages.

The office.

With the women of Dynamic team

Equipment Purchasing

(Clockwise from left) Nakamura, Moriya, Kiyohara, Yamakawa, Ishitsuka, Yasu, Oomori, Makihara, Hijikata, Yang, Hiramatsu, me, Onozuka and Mizuno.

Outside work, I have taken a few photos of my neighbourhod. My home from December 2012 to 3rd July 2017.

My mama bike. Amber used to ride the backseat. Even without her, I still kept the backseat.
Speaking of the neighbourhood. It is typical quiet suburban, wherein you could barely hear any blasting music from neighbours. The buildings are old but the surroundings are made child-friendly with the presence of pocket parks and playground. 

Keiyo Line is the first train I hop on for trainhopping and the only line that leads me to work. 


Ginza, where I get a little relief from stress!

The iconic Wako building.

Me under the Inagekaigan marquee.