First of all - some of you will be surprised that you can actually understand what we have written, since we are in Japan! Actually the computer keyboard has both English and Japanese letters / symbols on it so it works either way but looks a little strange. Anyway...
From Singapore it took 6 hours overnight to get to Fukuoka at the bottom of Japan. It was interesting having a boarding card that redirected our luggage "from SIN to FUK" which made us both laugh. We had free shapeless yellow socks given to us and also a Japanese breakfast, which consisted of grilled salmon and rice with steamed green beans and flower shaped carrot slices. The breakfast was really nice, but the socks are naff. We landed at 8am by which time the temperature was already 29 degrees C and boy did we notice it! We had an extremely confusing first half hour trying to work out whether we needed a bus or a train or both to get to the main train station. We sorted it out eventually and managed to get on one of the bullet trains to Hiroshima. The train was amazingly quiet and quick, and did 270km in 70 minutes, including 3 stops.
When we got out at Hiroshima, the heat was oppressive - probably 35 degrees C or more and we walked to our hotel, wilting in the sun. We dumped our bags, changed in the toilets, and set off back to the station for the local train to Miyajima, which is an island Shinto shrine considered one of the 3 most beautiful places in Japan. It is also famous for having more rice ladle shops than anywhere else in the world and the worlds biggest rice ladle which was over 5m long. There were deer everywhere and hundreds of identical tourist shops. We didn't stay that long, but had a nice ice cream each and Naomi bought a fan!
We got back to the hotel mid-afternoon and slept in our rooms for an hour before setting off to see the A-bomb dome and peace park. It was a place that Stuart had always wanted to visit and had always been a special symbolic place in all kinds of ways for him. So actually going there was very powerful and quite emotive. To actually stand at the point where the bomb was dropped was very moving and the memorials and gardens created a very poignant but beautiful place. We rang the bell at the childrens memorial which is the centre for the peace crane movement which you will have probably heard about. We sat on benches talking and reflecting on how we felt and walked to the eternal flame, which will only be extinguished when the world is free of nuclear weapons. They were setting up thousands of chairs in the park for the anniversary commemoration in 3 days time.
We then had a light meal in a cafe, which just happened to be almost exactly over the epicentre of the blast, and collected some paper cranes from the cafe to remember our time there.
We're having a night in tonight after everything we've done, and plan to eat chocolate and try on the Japanese robes / clothes they have put out for us, which could be interesting! We're off to Kyoto tomorrow so you might hear from us then.
Lots of love,
Naomi and Stuart.