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    Born to Run by Christopher McDougall - (K) Humorous and thorough history and science behind ultrarunners and long-distance running
    *****
    Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela - (K) An autobiography covering his childhood, years as a freedom fighter and incarceration. Inspiring and informative
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    The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón - (K&T) A mystery set in Barcelona involving an old book, a failed writer and murder
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    The Chinese by Jesper Becker - (K&T) Modern history of my peeps, from the cultural revolution to the many failed economic and social attempts to move the country forward
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    Setting the Table by Danny Meyer - A "how-to" on hospitality and business acumen by the restaurateur behind such NY institutions as the Shake Shack and Union Square Grill
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    The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama - Obama lays out what is wrong with the current government and how, vaguely, to change it.
    **

Onto Japan

Konichiwa! Genki desu ka?

Hello! How are you?

We had booked our return flight home out of Osaka so we had to make it Japan. And we wanted to make it to Japan because we had such a good time in Tokyo during our unscheduled stop on our honeymoon. Because we had already been to the big city and because we had been moving around so much, we decided to spend our 12 days in Japan covering a rather small distance of 400 miles (or two hours on the shikansen – bullet train).

We arrived in Hiroshima excited to be back in a country firmly grounded in the first world. Immigration and security were efficient and polite. Even the baggage inspection where Kelly’s undies popped up again during the search probably caused more blushing by the inspector than by Kelly. We exchanged some money at the foreign exchange desk and hopped the ever on-time and efficient bus to the city train station.

If there is anything to complain about in Japan, it would have to be limited to the lack of international ATMs (only at the post office!), the cost of lodginig (even dorms are $30/night), and the ever ending politeness.

I think I can safely say that Japan is the most polite place in all of our travels. As a traveler in a country where they are not focusing their economy on tourism and therefore English is not always available, the people are amazingly friendly and helpful and above all, polite. You can’t walk into a store without an endless and impressively unrobotic irasshaimasssseeeee!

After checking into our little tatami room, we immediately went for….lunch! Oh Japanese food, delicate and clean flavors, how we have missed you…

And as we walked around the train station where we ate lunch, we noticed all the baseball paraphernalia. Our luck was that the new Mazda Stadium was just down the street and so after a bit of sightseeing, we headed off to watch the Hiroshima Carp take on err, uhh, some other city or province in Japan.


We got the golden tickets

I had been jonesing for some real baseball since New Zealand, forced to only watch mlb.tv on the road. Tickets were only like $15 bucks and you can even bring beer into the stadium! Seats were unreserved but we were able to find something pretty good even arriving just 30 minutes before the game.

Kirin Beer Girl

Kirin Beer Girl - Always with a short skirt, smile and "cute" fingers.

And man, Japanese baseball is an experience. EVERYTHING is coordinated. EVERYONE knows the team chants and even some players have their own chants, of course approved by the team. Almost everyone is in team colors and most have little bat noisemakers. Coordinated cheering occurs throughout the game. It really is an advanced society.

This one looks better than our video.

And of course you can still get sushi and croquettes at the game…

The next day, we spent time doing covering the reason foreigners come to Hiroshima in the first place. On August 6, 1945, The U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the center of Hiroshima city that would kill 140,000 people (out of a population of about 400,000 – or almost 30%) by year’s end. Almost 70% of the buildings in the city wre destroyed. Whatever you think about this event – some people say it probably saved more lives than it took by quickly ending the war – you can’t help but be deeply deeply saddened by what took place here.

Abomb Dome

Abomb Dome

The bomb was dropped and ignited directly above this structure, once a crowning jewel of architecture in Hiroshima. It remains as a vivid reminder of the bomb, along with the nearby Peace Park and Victims Museum.

We spent the morning going through a very unbiased and graphic look back at the events of WW2, the bomb drop and the after effects, including a memorial to the children and a little girl named Sadako Sasaki, who died of leukemia 10 years after the bomb. Sasaki gained worldwide attention when she started folding paper cranes as she thought that if she folded enough, then she would be well. Now there are over 10 million paper cranes at her memorial, donated by countries around the world.

Memorial Cenotaph

Memorial Cenotaph - containing the names of all those who died

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2 Responses

  1. Hi there

    I found your blog a while back when searching for a pic of a sawngthaew (before realising that I had one myself – we shared ours with a motorbike!)

    We’re following in your travel footsteps, for a while at least, so your posts have been a helpful preview of what is yet to come (particularly China) and/or a hilarious reminder of our own (freakishly similar) experiences so far!

    Baseball looks awesome – when in Hiroshima a few years ago, I had to choose between a baseball game and an invitation to a cherry-blossom party. The offer of an Asahi keg proved to be too irresistible, so the latter won out.

    Best of luck in Africa!

  2. Great post — I found it because it auto linked to my own post about the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. hope you’re continuing to enjoy life and your travels.

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