Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hiroshima Day 2 - Flower Festival

(Back dated to 3 May 2009)

Originally I'd planned to wake up and eat breakfast early and be at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (again) by 8:30am (opening). Since I'd stayed fairly late at Sankanou, though, I was tired and ended up pushing my schedule back by an hour. That's the nice thing about traveling solo, I guess--complete freedom to change your itinerary however you please!

Anyway, when I got to the museum, I saw that it was super crowded. So I checked out the free admission (basement) part of the museum instead of lining up to get an admission ticket. It was pretty much empty, so I went through the survivors' sketches and recent acquisitions collections slowly--reading just about everything. There was also a special exhibit about filming Hiroshima, so I went through that. There were a lot of fairly lengthy video clips, and since I wasn't in any rush, I was able to sit and watch a good portion of them.

After that I went up to the museum gift shop and bought a museum book and book of drawings by A-bomb survivors.

When I finished making my purchases, it was nearly time for the opening ceremonies for the Flower Festival, so I went outside and was surprised by the huge crowd that had gathered. The sitting section was pretty much full, so I staked out a spot by the stairs--the view from there was partially obscured by shrubbery, so I was able to get a decent spot (although later there were tons of people standing behind me!).

The opening ceremony wasn't really all that thrilling, but at least I could say that I saw it. A local school's choir sang, there were some cheerleaders, and various dignitaries. Jero (Japan's first black enka singer) was performing that day, so he also gave aisatsu (greetings) during the opening ceremony. It was pretty crazy. The emcee was saying that some of the people in the first row were waiting in front of the stage before he even arrived! When he asked them, they said that they had been there since 5AM because they wanted to see Jero!! But he wasn't even performing until 4pm!! (I wonder if they stayed there the entire time, waiting for the performance?!)

Anyway, there was also a lighting of the flame atop the big flower monument (tower thing). After that, and once Jero had left the stage, the crowd started to disperse, and I decided it was time to get some food! Before I made my way to the food area, though, I noticed that the parade was starting. Fittingly, it was led by a Hiroshima Carps (baseball team) float; the Festival was started as a result of fan celebrations of the Carps' first championship in 1975.

I didn't stick around to watch too much of the parade, though. Instead I made my way to the street vendors and started eating!! First was ice cream (vanilla-chocolate mix), followed by sweet potato "sticks," hashimaki (okonomiyaki wrapped around chopsticks), Pocari Sweat (to wash it all down), and anko taiyaki (forgot to take a picture!!).

Then I headed away from the park down Heiwa Odori (Peace Boulevard). I managed to find the JT booth and got my garbage bag and tongs to collect garbage with. I wandered around picking up garbage and watching some of the parade procession. The procession wasn't that interesting, though, since apparently the groups only perform around the Peace Park area. They were just walking and waving as they headed down Heiwa Odori (unlike the Towada Aki Matsuri where you're performing the entire way, with rest stops every couple of blocks).

After turning in my garbage and garbage (and getting a free eco bag!), I headed back to the museum. The line-up for admission tickets wasn't so long, so I bought one and went back in. I spent another 1.5-2 hrs going through the museum again, this time reading through everything I hadn't read before--even if it meant waiting 2-5minutes for the line of people to move along.

Then I walked back through the park taking more pictures. I thought I'd go to the hotel and drop off the books (since they were heavy) and on the way I stopped at the Hiroshima Art Museum. Unfortunately I got there a couple of minutes after 4:30pm, which was too late to enter, since the museum closed at 5pm.

I was pretty tired by the time by that point, but I needed to find out about buying a streetcar/ferry pass and I wanted to check the predicted high tide time at Miyajima for the next day, and I knew that if I stopped by the hotel I wouldn't want to leave again, so I continued on from there to Hiroshima Station.

When I was done there, I thought about going back to Sankanou for dinner, but I wanted to turn in early, so I decided to eat something from one of the restaurants on the 11th floor at Fukuya Department Store. I ended up going for "ladies" curry at Tsuboyaki Curry. Other than the presentation, it was pretty much normal curry, but it was cheap and tasty, so no complaints.

Although I'd originally planned to hit the 10th floor book section (reputed to have a decent selection of English books) on the 5th, just before leaving, since I was already there, I decided to check it out. I didn't buy anything, though. I started to feel a stomachache coming on (whether it was all the street food or the curry that brought it on, I don't know), so I went back to the hotel.

I got an internet cable from the front desk and spent the night leisurely browsing the internet (and checking the weather forecasts for the next day)!

Facebook Album Photos from Day 2:
Flower Festival
Peace Memorial Park - Flower Festival