I spent the second day in Japan walking around Yokohama, which is a very nice port city. It seems strange to Americans that you can never find a trash can in public areas such as parks and train stations. I was told this dates from the sarin scares in the 1990's, when terrorists were killing people with sarin gas. Now the public is responsible for taking their own trash with them. It is amazing that you see no trash on the street. Someone told me they got up early one day and saw people out scrubbing the sidewalks. Shame still seems to be a big deterrent to bad behavior.
Someone also noted nasty looks given to people blowing their noses in public. In this culture you are supposed to do that in private, and never at the dinner table. I have a raging cold I probably got from my roommate, since she had one last week. I guess I have been insulting people right and left, because I am going through a lot of kleenex.
I spent a few hours outside a restaurant with internet catching up on email and blog. We don't have good internet on the ship and it is expensive outside of the free university sites, which is probably why none of you have heard from me. I had to move to the alley when she washed down the tables prior to opening.
We spent two days sailing to Kobe. Most of the students went overland and will meet us there. About 160 stayed onboard and were given a special sit down dinner with cloth napkins instead of paper, water goblets instead of plastic glasses, and a menu instead of a buffet. The crew seemed to enjoy putting on their "formal" service and everyone had a good time. I sat at a round table of five which included Desmond Tutu. I didn't have my camera with me, so still no picture.
From Kobe I took a tour with other students to Hiroshima. We took a bus to Shin-Kobe station then the bullet train to Kobe (80 minutes, about $100 one way). The train was very comfortable, with reclining seats and lots of leg room. You can't see much, though, since there are a lot of tunnels.
In Hiroshima, we went to the epicenter of the WWII bombing, which is now a big park with memorials and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The ruin of the old city commercial building is still standing as a stark reminder of the damage caused. It was near the epicenter and caught a downward blast, while most of the town was flattened by a sideways blast. The museum tells the real story, with lots of pictures and exhibits of actual clothes (what was left of them) taken off the bodies. There were two watches that stopped at 8:15 August 6, 1945, the exact time of the first atomic bombing. Stories of survivors are also included. Babies born soon after had horrible birth defects. Letters and exhibits call for an end to nuclear weapons and peace in the world. It was a very sobering experience.
|Children's Memorial, Hiroshima. The glass cubicles in the background hold the paper cranes donated.|
|Watch stopped at 8:15 a.m., 8/25/45|
|Ruin of commercial building|
|What do you think happened to this child?|