Monday, June 29, 2009

Japan Trip - Day 2 - Nagasaki

Sunday, June 21 was our first day in Japan not centered around transportation. Kiyoko had cooked a traditional Japanese breakfast, so we started the day with miso soup, rice, salmon, and green tea. Very different than American breakfast, but I liked it a lot.

After breakfast, we (Mom, Mamie, Kiyoko, and I) took a bus into town and met up with Drew. Our plan was to spend the first half of our day seeing the atomic bomb-related sights, including the peace park, the hypo-center, and the Atomic Bomb Museum. The Peace Park is up on a hill, with a fountain/statue at its center. It also has sculptures donated from a number of different countries.

This one is from St. Paul, Minnesota, which is Nagasaki's sister city.

The hypo-center is the location above which the bomb was detonated. There are pictures showing how all the buildings were destroyed. A pillar of a cathedral is still standing near-by.

The museum was really interesting, and included items that had been affected (melted bottles, coins, etc.), pictures, and scientific information about how the bomb worked and the after-effects. Some of the exhibits are pretty gruesome, but the idea of the museum is to help people understand the effects of nuclear weapons, and it's pretty effective at doing that. It's also incredible to see how much the city has changed in just 50 years.

After the museum, we headed back to the train station, this time just to update some tickets and get lunch. (The station is connected to a mall and has many restaurants.) I tried "champon," which Drew told me is a dish Nagasaki is famous for. It's a noodle soup with lots of different meats and vegetables in it.

After lunch we walked from the station to the 26 Martyrs Memorial. It's a wall with the engravings of twenty-six Christians that were crucified in Japan in 1597.

From there we walked to the near-by Fukusai-Kannon. It's an 18-meter tall statue of the Goddess Kannon standing on the back of a turtle. Inside is a temple, where Kiyoko showed Mamie around a bit, and then a lady came and gave all of us a tour. The inside of the temple was interesting and ornate. The temple also houses the third largest Foucault Pendulum in the world. (That's the one that shows the rotation of the earth by slowly knocking over the metal pieces of a circle.)

She let us each take a turn at ringing the giant bell.

She also showed us how to throw water on the statue out front.

After touring the temple, we headed for the Cocowalk Mall - one of the largest malls in Nagasaki. I think it had seven floors. We did some shopping and meandered around the different stores.

For dinner, we went to Togitsu Keitan Sushi - a restaurant where the sushi comes around on a conveyer belt and you are charged based on the number of plates you have at the end. The sushi was really good, and we had plenty to eat. Even Mamie, who isn't a big fan of sushi, really enjoyed seeing all the different dishes.

One of the funniest types was the "hot dog" sushi - which is rice with a mini-hot dog on top, wrapped with a small piece of seaweed, and topped with ketchup. They're surprisingly tasty.

After dinner, Kiyoko and Mamie headed home, but my mom and I met up with Drew and his friends to do Karaoke. In Japan, karaoke is rarely done in big groups with strangers (like bars in the U.S.) and instead you rent out a private room. It was really fun - Drew's friends were all good sports, and we had a great time.

These were some of the creative lyrics to "We Didn't Start the Fire." (In case the pics too small to read, it says, "No, we didn't light it, but we tried to light it!")

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