Thursday, May 10, 2007

Backpacking in Japan

Well, two days ago I promised I would talk about my backpacking experience in Japan with Havard. After our three months working in Japan, most of the ISU students in Japan, this is, Paolo and Mic in Sagamihara (ISAS/JAXA), Havard in Sendai (Tohoku University) and me in Tsukuba (JAXA) [Filipo could not make it this time], decided to meet up in Tokyo and from there, start a backpacking adventure to go as far south as possible.

The meeting point was in Shibuya, Tokyo, in the picture below. Once there, we went for dinner and then party at a club in Roppongi. Mic's brother and two Mic's coworkers came with us for that party.

Without sleeping, we moved to Shinjuku to buy the tickets to go to Mt. Fuji by bus. At that point, many of us stepped out and only Havard and I decided to continue with the adventure. This is Shinjuku's bus station, just before we followed different ways:

We slept a few our in my favourite manga cafe in Shinjuku and then went for the bus which was taken us to Kawaguchiko, station 5 in Fujisan. From there, we climbed the vulcano overnight and saw the sunrise at the summit. Here a photo of what the inside of the vulcano cone looked like from the top
After more than 18 hours climbing and coming back to station 5, we finally headed down to the South. Havard had bought a special promotion consisting in 5 tickets with which you can travel all over Japan using local trains for 24 h.
Our intention was reaching Hiroshima by that night. However, we didn't really know how to go there. We had a book with the schedule of all trains in Japan, which I get from my boss, Takata san. With that and some train workers help, we could get the plan displayed below:

Finally, we couldn't reach Hiroshima and we decided to sleep over in Himeji. In the morning, we
went to visit Himeji castle, world heritage and one of the nicest castle all over Japan (I posted some pictures in a post talking about castles last month). After that, we continued our journey and decided to go to another of the main 5 islands, Shikoku. We just went there and came back. The most interesting things were the very long bridge (several km. ---> one of the longest in the world) and the fact that we had been in another island in Japan.
Finally, at night, we reached Hiroshima and decided to rent a hotel room for a change. All the previous 4 nights, we had been partying, sleeping in manga cafes or in the train and climbing Fujisan. Then, some nice rest was very very helpful. Next morning we visited downtown Hiroshima. As you can possibly imagine, the landscape there is greatly impacted by the A-bomb bombing in 1945. All the center of the city is covert with parks and the Peace Memorial. The Peace Memorial is a big museum showin what happened the days before and after the bombing. That museum is a yell against war and all atrocities committed during wars. They are also trying to end up with all nuclear bombs in the world.
The most breathtaking sight of the ground zero is the famous A-bomb dome. It is a theater which was just underneath the A-bomb when it exploded. The explosion entered the dome from the top and applied the same pressure in and out of the walls. The result is that the dome was only of the only buildings resisting the explossion.
We continued walking around and visited Hiroshima castle. Actually, it was a replica of the original one, which got destroyed by the atomic bomb. We also passed by the stadium where the Spanish national basketball team started the way to become world champions some weeks later. Spain's first match was the last day we were in Hiroshima.
Near Hiroshima, there is an island called Miyajima which is full of temples and a nice world heritage: the torii in the sea. This torii (Japanese typical red gate) is in the middle of the sea and depending on the tides, it is either on the beach or floating in the middle of the sea. It was so cool! and there were deers in the island! I noticed these deers were smaller than the ones in Nara.
Finally, Havard and I splitted ways in the last manga cafe I visited in Japan. He went to Kyoto and I came back to Tokyo. The last thing I did was visiting Ueno park for the last time and go to my supervisor's house in Ibaraki. Next day I flew back to Spain.


Havard said...

It sure was a great trip. After you went back to Tokyo, I took the train to Nara and then off to Kyoto. I spent the first nigth in Kyoto at another internet cafe, next night I got the luxury of a hotel again.

Fynny thing happened though; I walked into Mic and Paulo on the street of Kyoto while they were standing in a bus line. So I joined them for some temples and shrines.

The days in Nara and Kyoto sure gave me my share of temples :)

After that I got on the shinkansen into tokyo and spent a day in disney land before heading back to Sendai for one last week there.

It was a fun trip Alvaro!

Alvaro said...

Sure it was!! We saw so many cool stuff and we did so many challenging things! hahaha... During those days we didnt sleep in a bed, climbed a vulcano, visited another island, crossed the country completely... and we couldnt go to a Yoshinoya! ;-)

Nice time in Japan...