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Authentic Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba


Japanese food is amazing. FACT. Forget the food you have tried back home that says it’s Japanese, you have not tasted Japanese food until you have tasted it in Japan. Same goes for Thai food… nowhere will ever be able to cook their food that good unless you are in the country!

 

Might look funny but it is delicious!!

Might look funny but it is delicious!!

Our last meal in Osaka was one of the best I have had in years, we went for the most Authentic place possible. Down the back street in a place pointed out by our hostel which they claimed was the best Okonomiyaki place in Osaka.

Tiny shop in the middle of a back street alley

Tiny shop in the middle of a back street alley

Walking in you would be forgiven for walking right back out again as it was small and the walls thick with layers of grease and a yellow stain on everything. If this was the UK you can guarantee it would be shut down by health and safety inspectors! However sometimes these are the kind of places where the food is the best! There were old Japanese men who looked at us as we walked in however the owner was super friendly!! We took our spot right at the cooker and ordered one pork Okonomiyaki and one pork yakisoba. Andy knew what all this was thanks to his time in Japan when we was younger but I was oblivious!

Starting of the base

Starting of the base

We watched in awe as the man started to make the Okonomiyaki with ease that only comes from years and years of practice. Okonomiyaki  actually comes from two words ‘okonomi’ meaning ‘what you want’ and ‘yaki’ which means cooked or grilled. It looks like pizza but is all vegetables, with meat on top and so many ingredients that I lost count!! As he was finishing up he started on the yakisoba which is a noodle dish. Within minutes our meal was ready and served to us by simply moving it closer to us on the main cooker!

Adding the topping

Adding the topping

As with almost every meal we have we split it in two and shared so we could each taste both dishes. I couldn’t figure out which one I liked best and we were almost tempted to get another serving!

Lovely  mid cooking

Lovely owner mid cooking

The man was so nice and a fine example of just how friendly the Japanese are. He actually surprised me by asking my views on Scottish independence which is not something you expect to come up from a local in Japan! When I told him that I was against it he agreed and surprised me again by explaining why he thinks it would be a bad move for Scotland. Like I said before it really caught me off guard! We chatted and he seemed happy that he had some foreigners to speak to especially when Andy pointed out the kangaroo balls bottle opener.

One think is for sure… Okonomiyaki is on my list of favourite foods but one I don’t think I will ever be able to find of the same authentic level again! YUM!!

Andy and I about to tuck in!

Andy and I about to tuck in!

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The Japanese Onsen


Whilst in Japan we thought we would go and experience the Japanese Onsen, or baths. After discovering my love for the Jjimjilbang in Korea, we couldn’t wait to let our hair down and relax a little after a few hectic days and sore feet in a Japanese bath house.

After a little research we found the biggest Spa in Asia, Spa Land. It has 8 floors of spas with spas from all around the world… okay so not authentic onsen but how could you resist such a grand place. We headed there which is right beside the subway stop and looms over the neighborhood making it hard to miss. Walking in there were great big signs and we were to busy laughing at the not allowed in if you are ‘dead drunk’ to notice the other sign about tattoos.

Spa LandWe paid our entrance fee and went to the desk to collect our things when we noticed the tattoo sign. Now we did hear about this before however we thought it was more about the gang tattoos. Andy asked the lady if ours would be okay since they are both small however she said that we could not come in. Now I am not trying to make fun of Andy’s (or my) tattoos but really they are the least offensive tattoos and the least gang related tattoos you could possible find. (Andy having a boxing kangaroo and me having a treble clef and my name in Thai!) In Japan tattoos still have a massive association with the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia) and no matter how big or small your tattoo is many onsens will not allow you in!!

We decided to head to a more authentic onsen. We got to one way outside the main city called Spa Suminoe, it was full of Japanese, no westerners in sight and everyone seemed to be fascinated with my hair colour!  Like the Korean baths the onsen is separated by gender. So we agreed a time and gave ourselves and hour and a half to enjoy. Going in you have to strip naked and shower, making sure you don’t go into any of the baths dirty.

It is very similar to the Korean baths,  I think the Korean ones actually Men and Ladiescame from the Japanese influence. The naked part didn’t both me at all as I was used to it with the Korean baths however unlike the Korean baths they were not afraid to look and watch me! Especially a group of young girls who followed me about giggling! It was slightly unnerving! I went about the various baths, Jacuzzi’s (which all have different types of jets) and then different saunas where you can either rub salt over you, sit in a sauna and watch TV or just chill out in a cooler room. Then you have the flat bath where it is like a bed with water running down it to wash off the salt in your body.

It was really relaxing and as we only had one shower between about 50 people in our hostel it was nice just to spend a bit longer under a hot shower and wash away the days dirt and grime.

We actually enjoyed it so much (mainly due to the sharing the shower part) that we tried an even more authentic one the next day down the back streets at our hostel. The idea was the same only this time it was ONLY locals, with more stares and weird looks.

I decided to go chill out in the outdoor hot spring when a lady came over and sat beside me smiling, I smiled back and said hello and she began talking to me, oblivious to my discomfort! She was actually lovely and when she couldn’t figure out what to say she called out and a little boy of about 10/11 came running over (he seemed to big to be in the ladies section!!) and as it was a sunken hot spring with him standing in front of us I REALLY didn’t know where to look! The lady gave me all her washing basket to use with conditioner, shampoo, body scrub… you name it!!

I got showered, changed and dried off and went off to meet up with Andy to swap our stories… his story even more awkward than mine as he had an old man in his section bent over using a toothbrush to… umm… clean… umm…the wrong end of ummm…. you figure it out!!

It sounds like it wouldn’t be enjoyable however, like the Korean baths, once you are over your naked-ness you relax and begin to unwind and end up in a ridiculously relaxed state!!

If you are in Japan is it one of the things you just have to give it a go!

Universal Studios, Osaka


With one full day left in Osaka we decided on some light relief…. A trip to Universal Studios!!

Andy and I at the famous globe

Andy and I at the famous globe

We decided to try to be ‘smart’ and go so we were there before the park even opened! However as it was a Saturday everyone had the same idea!! Luckily we bought our tickets in advance at the JR station when we got our train tickets. To get to the park was incredibly simple, just jump on the JR loop and change onto the Universal City line… you literally can’t miss it (not to mention everyone on your train will get off at the stop!) another 10 minute on the train and it arrives right at the park entrance.

Giant Christmas tree!

Giant Christmas tree!

As soon as the doors opened people started a mad dash for the stairs trying to be first in line…. and this was just after 8 am- the park was not due to open until 9 am(Although it was open so who knows when it opens) With our tickets already in hand we went straight for the turnstiles to get in which took us 25 minutes in itself just to get to the front of the queue! Our first stop was the Universal shop where we bought the express pass booklet…. If you go on a Saturday then this is a MUST otherwise your whole day would be spent in a queue! Although they sell out very fast and the 7 ride express pass was sold out before we even got to the front of that queue!! However we managed to get the 4 ride express pass and it was the best $40 I have ever spent!!!

With express passes in hand we headed straight for the main attraction. Spiderman 4D! Bear in mind it was now 9.05am (supposedly 5 minutes after the park opened) and the Spiderman ride was already a 90 minute wait!!! Out came the express pass which meant we only had to wait 20 minutes! The ride itself was actually really good as you went on a city tour with Spiderman which was under the clutches of an evil gang! The ride was like half roller coaster half simulator with water and wind getting blown in your face. However no matter how good the ride was… it would never be worth a 90 minute wait as it was over in less than 4!

Universal Studios

Universal Studios

We headed through the park to the Back to the Future ride. Back when I was about 10 years old (I think) I went to Universal studios in Orlando and remember this ride so well!! The wait was 45 minutes so we whipped out our express pass and waited the grand total of 1 minute! The only thing that comes to mind is WOW it was dated!!! It was literally the same ride, same video same everything as it was 16 years ago in Orlando… with the advancement in technology you think they could have updated the screens or graphics a bit!! We got off feeling extremely queasy as it was way to much jiggling and big screen movement for me!!

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

Andy with a new friend

Andy with a new friend

As the park was getting busier we decided to try to get all the big rides out-of-the-way first so went straight for the Hollywood Ride Backdrop, the biggest roller coaster in the park as we approached we checked the running time…. wait for it… a 3 hour wait!!!! No joke people were actually queuing for 3 hours to go on a 2 minute ride!!! Well out popped the express pass as we were on the ride without having to wait at all!! The ride itself was awesome, as you got strapped in you picked your music which blared out as you got thrown about the roller coaster… was defiantly the best ride but not work the 3 hour wait!!

splash

splash!

With one express pass left we headed over to Jurassic Park and hopped on the ride which took you through all the different animals before ending in a massive water slide which soaked Andy and I but not so much anyone else as they all had massive ponchos on!! This area of the park was actually quite cool as it had all the props such as the cars and signs as well as a person walking about dressed up as a giant dinosaur, which jumped on me as I tried to get my picture taken with it as it walked past!

Surprise!!

Surprise!!

With express passes out we were a bit at lost as what to do… do we really want to wait hours and hours just for each ride? We decided to walk around and see which rides were quiet and ended up at Terminator 4 which was only a 50 minute wait which turned out to be 20! Excellent… yes… well not really… as we didn’t realize it was a live show…. 100% in Japanese apart from the line “I’ll be back!!” I would love to comment more however I pulled a “mum” and fell asleep in my chair!!

Welcome to Amity

Welcome to Amity

We decided to have a look at the space fantasy ride next only to discover another 120 minute wait which is when we noticed a separate queue with only a 20 minute wait… Singles! Wow if only I had known about this before!! Basically a line to fill the seats when there is one left (i.e. Group of 3 people) so instead if wasting the seat you could jump on this…. and for some reason no one was using this line!! Within 10 minutes we were both on the ride just a few minutes apart. I had a group of 3 girls with me who couldn’t stop staring and smiling at me… I finally gave a wave with a quick “con-ech-tewa!” (hello-ish in Japanese) to which I was greeted with screams, laughs and friendly smiles!! The ride was quite fun as well however sitting next to the Japanese girl who was more interested in the weird single white girl beside her made the whole thing even funnier!

Jaws!

Jaws!

Jumping off the ride we had a new sense of hope that maybe it was possible to go on all the rides without waiting 2 hours to get on! We made our way over to Amity Village i.e. Jaws!!! I remembered this so well from when I was there with my folks that I couldn’t wait… despite the timer saying it was a 75 minute wait… until we spotted the single queue!! As we wound our way round with everyone looking on like “How are they moving so fast?!” we were on the actual ride almost instantly without any wait.. sweet! The ride was exactly how it had been in Orlando except when the boat was stopped by the tour guide to shout at the Japanese woman who was dangling her child over the side of the boat! I screamed just as much as I did when Jaws came out of the water and despite Jaws looking at little old was still a great ride.

Getting off the ride there was a chance to get your picture with the big shark hanging upside down, but as with everything if you wanted to get a picture you had to pay and get your picture taken (even with the giant Christmas tree!!) although being the cunning people we are we just stood in front of the photography bit and got the pictures that way… free of charge!

Jaws!

Jaws!

Finally we headed to Back draft, another all Japanese talking one about the stunts on the movie of the same name. This was okay at first as you didn’t understand a word that they said with no English subtitles but the ending fire stunt was quite impressive, was worth going in just for that!! 🙂

All around the park there is plenty to eat, buy and look at and we spent a good 4-5 hours in the park, however we never stayed for the parade as Andy had pulled a muscle in his back and we decided to head off. Was a great way to chill out and have some down time after our insanely busy trip!!

 Need to know

Universal studios Osaka
Day pass- 
Adults 6,600¥       Children 4,500¥
2 Day Pass- Adults 11,100¥     Children 7,400¥

4 ride express pass- 3,200¥
7 ride express pass- 4,900¥

  • Get there early!
  • Buy tickets before hand at a JR station or Lawson’s store
  • Pay the extra and get an express pass
  • Express passes sell out quickly so get there early (you get them inside the park at the first shop once you are though the gates)
  • If you don’t have kids and don’t have an express pass make use of the ‘singles’ lines if you don’t want to wait hours for a ride and don’t mind not sitting beside your partner/friend
  • Bring change (300¥ or 500¥) for lockers
  • Do the big rides first or you will be looking at a 3 hour + wait by afternoon
  • Avoid Saturdays!

Osaka- A castle, temple and…. dance machine?!


Being from Scotland I am somewhat spoiled when it comes to castles given that Scotland has some of the most beautiful castles I have seen before. However as our trip continued we traveled to Osaka and a visit to Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

The bridge to the castle

The bridge to the castle

The Castle is one of the most famous in Japan, however I was quite surprised at how small it was! However for what it lacks in size it more than makes up for it in beauty. Coming off the subway you arrive right at the entrance of the Castle’s park. The park is beautiful and full to the brim of every kind of dog you can imagine…. many in fancier outfits than what I had on!! The park was really nice just to walk around in the morning sun and take in the sites. It wasn’t long before the castle came into view. The castle sits high up on a hill on top of a massive mound of rocks which if you took them away would leave it very small…. it is not your typical kind of castle… looks almost more like a palace.

The rock mound the castle sits on

The rock mound the castle sits on

Canon

Canon

As we walked up we decided that we might as well go in, walking into the castle we decided to walk up the eight flights of stairs rather than get the lift. The inside of the castle has all been renovated and stripped of what it used to look like, instead it is more of a museum. It would be interesting if this was a side part to the castle as I was expecting to see what the castle looked like back in its heyday! What we got instead was pictures on the walls in glass cases and the whole place given a super ultra modern feel. All of the 8 floors was like this and I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. The view from the top was very pretty if not incredibly busy!

View from the top

View from the top

Dressing up!

Dressing up!

The highlight of the castle however was on the first floor where for 300 yen (about $3) you could dress up as a samurai including the swords, robes and impressive hats! Andy and I mucked about pulling funny poses and faces while the lady snapped away and within a minute the quite table was packed with people wanting their pictures taken as well… just call us rent a mob! I had read before hand that the park with views of the castle was just as impressive and I actually have to agree. Beautiful on the outside but stripped on the inside of its character.

Man with an eagle sitting outside the Castle

Man with an eagle sitting outside the Castle

Main Gate of Shitenojji Temple

Main Gate of Shitenojji Temple

We left the castle and made our way to Shitennō-ji temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan founded in 593. We spent our time walking around the temple and I was surprised how busy it was! It was packed with people all making prayers. It was a very beautiful and also strangely peaceful despite the crowds.

Shitenojji Temple

Shitenojji Temple

We took off and headed to Namba, the main shopping district as I was in search of a new phone! The shopping in Japan I can only describe as what it is like to shop on Christmas Eve when the shops have been closed for a month before hand! It was crazy! There were so many people that to just try to cross the street was a mission in its self!

Anime shops

Anime shops

Needless to say I didn’t find a phone that could be used out with Japan but we did see hundreds of Game card shops, and not for little kids but for grown adults. I am not sure how you play them (or if you just collect them?) However they  sell all these different cards with characters on and the shops were full of adults trying to increase their collection. Was strange! Along with the card shops there were comic book shops full of ‘Anime’ (Japanese animation) with huge posters of the female (cartoon) characters down the entire length of the building… now I am not talking about a tiny store but a multi-level store full of comics, games, dolls and all sorts of things! Walking down the street we also bumped into loads of cos-play girls (Girls in costume) trying to get you to come into their store to buy coffee… I think!! Was quite a strange experience!

Dotonburi

Dotonburi

vDotonburiDotonburi

Dotonburi

With sore feet (and in Andy’s case a sore back!) we headed home to refresh to our room which was the size of a double bed (literally!) before heading back out to Dotonburi, the night life area in Osaka. We walked around visiting all different arcades which were EVERYWHERE we went with hundreds of slot machines, claw games and video games. Our favorite one to watch was the dance machine (which is more hi-tech than I remember!) and watched as one guy showed us just how serious gaming can get with an impressive array of dance moves in time to the music!! Watch the video below… Kudos to him!

Cool hotel in Dotonburi

Cool hotel in Dotonburi

We  set out on a quest to find Space Station… a bar ranked number 2 on trip advisors of places to visit in Osaka and it took us about an hour to find it!! Just as we were about to give up we saw the sign in a street we had overlooked.

Andy playing Super Mario

Andy playing Super Mario

This is a cool place. It is a small bar owned by an American who had collected hundreds of games for all different computers such as the Nintendo, N64 and X-box along with other ones that I didn’t know! Andy and I sad drinking cocktails while playing the Super Mario brothers I remember playing when I was tiny with my brother. Was quite nostalgic! We played all different games on all different consoles and let of some steam after a day of walking and the days trip to Hiroshima. Was a cool way to finish the day ready for Universal Studios the next day!!

Hiroshima Peace Park


Followed on from my previous post on Hiroshima Peace Museum….

Centopath looking through to the Peace Flame and A-Bomb Dome

Cenotaph looking through to the Peace Flame and A-Bomb Dome

After quite an emotional visit to the museum we hopped on the bikes we had rented from the hostel and started to make our way around the park, if you go this is a great way to get round all the sites of the park. It is all within walking distance but it was nice to cycle around!

Memorial for the lost students who were outside working when the blast went off

Memorial for the lost students who were outside working when the blast went off

We stopped off first at the Cenotaph which is located at the centre of the park, it contains all the names of the victims killed by the bomb, the shape is meant to represent a shelter for the souls of the victims and is positioned so you can look though and see the Atomic-Dome and the Peace Flame. The peace flame was lit in 1964 and will remain lit until all nuclear weapons have been destroyed. As it was still quite early the park was quiet however it was hard to miss the elderly couple in front of us saying a prayer at the Cenotaph with tears falling down the ladies cheek.

Memorial to victims, 140,000 tiles for each life lost

Memorial to victims, 140,000 tiles for each life lost

We cycled on to the hall of remembrance which is a place to remember all the victims of the bombing as well as a hope for peace. Before entering the building there is a clock frozen at 8.15 (time the bomb went off) The remembrance hall contains information about the estimated 140,000 victims, it spirals down to a huge room containing a 360 view of the destroyed Hiroshima made up of 140,000 tiles, one for each person killed by the end of 1945. At the centre of the room was a water feature where a pillar of light shone down from a glass panel above. The room was impressive and was a beautiful way to remember the lives that had been lost.

A-Bomb dome overlooking the river

A-Bomb dome overlooking the river

Continuing on we cycled to the river and over the bridge to the most

A-Bomb dome

A-Bomb dome

famous site in Hiroshima, the Atomic Dome. The A-Bomb dome is what remains of the Promotion Hall which stood tall before the bomb went off. The bomb exploded almost directly above the dome which allowed for it to keep its shape due to the downward blast. Everyone inside the dome was killed instantly and it was decided that the dome would remain standing to serve as a reminder of the tragedy that had happened and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Across the river you are able to see a picture of the original building and see just how much survived the blast and is a chilling sight.

The A-Bomb Dome before and after

The A-Bomb Dome before and after

Moving on we reached the Peace Bell which visitors are encouraged to ring in call for peace and as you walk around the park you can hear it ring as visitors give it a bell.

Ringing the peace bell

Ringing the peace bell

Andy and I both had a shot and the sound is impressive! Just along from the peace bell there is another peace bell which is much smaller but very beautiful. This one is the children’s memorial in honor of Sadako, the little girl who was diagnosed with leukaemia 10 years after the blast due to radiation poisoning.

Sadako's Crane

Sadako’s Crane

She spent her days in hospital folding paper cranes in the hope that if she made 1000 she would get a wish from the Gods (an old Japanese myth) but sadly died and was buried with her cranes. She became a symbol for the innocent children who died in the bomb and also showed that the effects of the bomb could be felt many years on. The Bell has a statue of Sadako on the top with a gold crane under the bell. Each year thousands of visitors fill the area round the bell with their own paper cranes in her honor and in the honor of the thousands of children who perished in the blast.

Children's peace monument

Children’s peace monument

Finally we reached the atomic mound, an area often overlooked by many visitors (especially if they had not been to the museum before hand) It is estimated that 140,000 people died by the end of 1945, and many of the victims were never identified. The mound holds the ashes of approximately 70,000 people killed in the blast that either were never identified or had no family left to receive the ashes.

Mound of 70,000 unidentified victims

Mound of 70,000 unidentified victims

With that our day was over and although the sun was shining and the day was beautiful we couldn’t help but leave with a heavy heart. I would encourage anyone who is visiting Japan to take time out to visit Hiroshima. It was one of the most profound days I have ever had. It was not the easiest option to get there considering our tight time frame (Or the cheapest! It cost $200 return from Osaka…Each! On the train) However, it is something that will always stay with me and something that I am glad we were able to see and do. It also gave me a new found respect for my Great Aunt Agnes who’s medical skills were no doubt used to the limit in her time helping out after the blast.

Andy and I at the A-bomb dome

Andy and I at the A-bomb dome

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


Watched stopped at 8.15

Watched stopped at 8.15

When I told people I wanted to visit Hiroshima, many could not understand why I would go out my way to visit a place of such destruction when I could spend my time visiting other happier places. However the World Wars have always fascinated me and the thought of going somewhere like Hiroshima was extremely interesting. I think it is important to learn about the country’s history you visit no matter how gruesome and sad it might be.

Photo taken by my Aunt Agnes as she flew into Hiroshima escorted by a hurricane fighter

Photo taken by my Aunt Agnes as she flew into Hiroshima escorted by a hurricane fighter

I also had a family connection as my great-aunt Agnes who I knew well was one of the first nurses on the scene in Hiroshima. We have pictures she had taken in our home of the state she found Hiroshima in when she arrived, however the pictures could never tell the full horror of what happened on the 6th of August 1945 at 8.15am.

Hiroshima before the blast

Hiroshima before the blast

We went to the museum early thinking it would be best to get there first before all the crowds came. However it also proved to be a good move as it explains all the memorials in the peace park and what they are for. The museum was a mere 50 cents to get in and you could get audio guides for $3.

Hiroshima after, red ball showing where the bomb went off

Hiroshima after, red ball showing where the bomb went off

The museum started off explaining the pre-war history of Hiroshima and the events that leaded up to the war, I was pleasantly surprised to find it was not a one-sided view and it explained about what the Japanese did during the war. In the centre of the room there were large-scale models of the city before and after the bomb so you could understand the true devastation caused.

Model of 'little boy'

Model of ‘little boy’

 

Everyone knows the story behind the atomic bomb and how it was the first ever atomic bomb was used as a weapon in history. However there were some things that I did not know, such as there were many cities that the US had lined up as possible targets however out of the four, Hiroshima was the first choice due to the fact there were no allied prisoner of war camps. The other reason that Hiroshima was picked was because the weather, as the pilots needed a clear line of sight to drop the bomb on the target (which was the main bridge) the clear weather in Hiroshima that day sealed its fate.

Just some letter of protests on neclear weapons from the mayor of Hiroshima

Just some letter of protests on nuclear weapons from the mayor of Hiroshima

 

The actual blast from ‘little boy’ (the name of the bomb, called so because it was shorter than the others) was 600 meters above the city however what resulted was intense heat rays which exceeded a million degrees Celsius at the instant of detonation creating a massive fireball which burned, destroyed and crushed nearly all buildings within a 2 km radius. What also made it even more tragic was the fact that school and college children were put to work outside before the blast to clear ‘fire lanes’ in case of an airstrike meaning that there was nothing to shield them from the power of the bomb killing them by their thousands.

The museum carried on by explaining how the atomic bomb was made and how and that some of the atomic bombs tested since Hiroshima are 1,000 times stronger than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima! It also explained what would happen if there was ever to be a nuclear war with a diagram showing just how many countries still had nuclear weapons.

We found it strange that the gift shop was in the middle of the museum however I think it was a stopping point for anyone who is too young or maybe to emotional to handle what lay past the corridor which was truly disturbing.

Models showing the skin falling off victims

Models showing the skin falling off victims

As we walked down the corridor we were greeted by a model of what the streets looked like after the bomb had hit followed by models of people who had survived the blast but who had been caught in the huge fireball which had melted their skin. I cannot put into words how horrific this image was as you started to imagine the pain and suffering the people must have faced.

Childrens toys found after the bomb

Children’s toys found after the bomb

The room also contained many artifacts that had been donated by families of victims, some of which was the only way they could identify their family members. Some of these were extremely upsetting as you saw the charred remains which once belonged to a young child such as lunch boxes, clothing, children’s toys, shoes and watches which the families either recognized or had their name written on them. Reading the stories that went with each item was chilling and brought a tear to my eye on several occasions.

Shredded clothes

Shredded clothes

Victims badly burned

Victims badly burned

The next room contains pictures and remains of some of the buildings, showing the damage caused by the blast. One item on display was the ‘shadow in the stone’ which used to be the steps of a bank that was at the centre of the blast, the heat had stained the stones white except for one dark area which was where someone had been sitting waiting for the bank to open. The pictures were very distressing showing images of people who had been burned by the blast even though they were several km away and made me think of the scene than my Great Aunt Agnes would have faced when she had arrived.

Wall stained white with radioactive rain

Wall stained white with radioactive rain

 

We continued on and had now reached the after effects, which at the time were not known when the bomb was dropped and has been an important lesson on the effects of nuclear weapons. Many people who had survived the bomb died a few days later due to their burns however what they didn’t realize when they dropped the bomb was how lethal the radiation was. Due to the extreme heat many people were extremely thirsty, so when rain began to fall they drank it even though it was black, it contained radiation as well as all kinds of different things and infected more people as well as staining walls as a lasting reminder.

black finger nails

black finger nails

 

There was then a picture of a mans hand with fingers missing but long black nails in its place, at the time the bomb went off he had his hand out the window and he lost his fingers, what grew back were deformed black nails which if he cut would bleed very heavily. All along the wall were stories of people who died a few months after the blast with radiation poisoning the most horrible being a preserved tongue which had been preserved to show the purpura spots caused by the radiation.

Spots on the tongue

Spots on the tongue

Saddako's cranes

Sadako’s cranes

It then moved onto the children of the blast, and in particular Sadako Sasaki, a small girl aged 2 at the time of the bombing, who overcame the initial injuries sustained however fell victim to leukemia 10 years later due to the radiation poisoning. She was given at most one year to live and every day she folded hundreds of paper cranes, in the hope that the stories were true and if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be granted a wish by the Gods, however she did not survive and she was buried with all the paper cranes that she had made. The little girl became a symbol for the innocent lives lost and a memorial was made in her honor.

Glass bottles fused together

Glass bottles fused together from the heat

We spent almost 2 hours in the museum and I can honestly I have only ever felt that emotional when visiting the killing fields in Cambodia. The lesson is a hard one to take but one that should never be forgotten and you cannot imagine the horror and pain that the people went through at the time, or the feeling you get walking through the museum until you have experienced it yourself.

Steel doors melted bent

Steel doors melted bent

The museum did give us an opportunity to learn more about the sculptures in the park and why they had been built and gave us a much clearer understanding of each one…..

Stuck in time at 8.15

Stuck in time at 8.15

It also gave me a sense of admiration for my great Aunt and the all the doors and nurses that risked their own lives to help, the images will stay with me forever and I cannot imagine how much worse it would have been for the people on the ground at that time.

Fukuoka, Japan


During my time in Fukuoka for my E2 Visa Run I had quite a bit of time to kill, as I explained in the previous post your visa run takes around 3 days. One day to get there, one day to hand your passport in ( must be before 11am) and then the next day to pick it up after 1.30pm. The actual time at the embassy takes about 15 minutes so you have quite a decent amount of time to kill!

Just found these pictures from my time there and thought I would share! I went to Fukuoka just after arriving in Korea and was in a MAJOR budget mode so choose to do all the sites that were free/costs nothing!

My favourite place was Ohori Park which I spent a good few hours just chilling out, watching the hundreds of turtles in the lake and playing with my new camera. It is a beautiful park and apparently even more beautiful in Spring when the Cherry Blossoms are out!
To get there take the subway to Ohori Koen station which is a station before the one you get off at to go to the Korean Embassy for your E2 visa run. The first day after I handed in my visa I actually walked here after and spent a few hours, then hopped off here the next day to kill time before picking up my visa!

Near the hotel I was staying at near Fukuoka Station there were many temples such as Tochoji Temple and Shofukuji Zen Temple. Tochoji Temple is actually number 3 on Trip advisor and is completely free to walk in and around!

Fukuoka also has ruins of a castle which you can walk around and check out the ruins of what was once Fukuoka Castle. It’s quite a pretty park… they are ruins so don’t expect to see a full-blown castle but the view from the top are awesome and so peaceful! It is also free to get in!
If you walk down the main path in the castle to the bottom you will come to  a Lily garden which is full of beautiful Lily’s which you can walk around and take it all in.

One of the most famous sites in Fukuoka is the Fukuoka tower which will give you panoramic views of the city! Again it is right beside the embassy and you can walk to it in about 20 minutes from the embassy. Again a good one if you have an hour to kill while waiting for the embassy to open at 1.30pm. Its 800 yen to get in (about $7/£4) I never made it up as I ran out of time and the weather was terrible!

Fukouka Tower

Fukuoka Tower

Right over the road from the embassy there is the hard rock cafe if you want a bite to eat….

Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe

Around the city there are loads of small sculptures you can see so as you walk around keep your eyes open. I found the cross walks hilarious… as they were on EVERY road… and I mean even the ones you could jump from one side to the other!! Made me chuckle!

Weird and wonderful sculptures

Weird and wonderful sculptures

Weird and wonderful sculptures

Weird and wonderful sculptures

Smallest Walk ever!

Smallest Walk ever!

The subway system is great in Fukuoka and you can literally get it anywhere, if you ask you can get an English subway map which has all the sites you might want to see and the stops you need to get off at for them!
Unfortunately my second day was heavy HEAVY rain so my site seeing got cut short slightly!!!

If you have to do the visa run then there is loads to keep you occupied!!