It kind of takes me by surprise (although I obviously, already, know it) when I get to the International Peace Park in the centre of Hiroshima, as I remember that a little over 50 years ago this place was raised to the ground by one of the atomic bombs dropped by the Americans during the second world war. In the city that now exists there is nothing of that which was destroyed remaining except for one. The skelital cone of the top of the INSERT PROPER NAME HERE building, set amongst the great block monstrosities of the surrounding buildings brings it all eerily back. The memorial itself an artisticic encasement of the memory. Individually everything looks like your run of the mill arty-parky things; the eternal flame, a wishy-washy water feature. But as you come to the end you see that everything, viewed from the right perspective, focuses attention directly at the remains of the BLAH. And the contrasting modernity of the art and decrepness of the subject really humbles.
I love how they line the chairs in the park with pillows for people to sit on.
A man, sketching the remains from a perch across the street.
Later I go to the Hiroshima art museum and manage to take a few photos before someone politely informs me that I can’t (in fairness, the sign didn’t say cameras, it said flashes)
Taking the shorter, steeper rought was a BAHD idea.
Gillian is just in front, her style more of a sprint, stop, breath, sprint, stop, breath to my two step at a time stride, contiunueing untill my legs give way (generally about 3 to four two step strides, mind you) We are only half way up this cock sucking mountain.
“I’m…gonna…fuckin’ murder…Yoshi when…get…back to…hostel…”
“IF…we…get…back to…hostel!!!” we manage to muster between breaths
It was a stupid idea taking the steeper rought. Granted, it is nice and shaded (which is a good thing seen as the sun is quite warm today and I have a good chance of exploding if exposed to too much quality sun and the fact that, as it is in the cool shade, I’m dripping with sweat and my (thank Christ) white t-shirt is glued to the contours of my back. But the fact of the matter is that we’ve seen more of our feet plastered to the dirt ground than we have of the apparent views that you are supposed to be able to see from this temple island.
The island of Mijajima is a beautiful place (albeit a bit touristy in the town itself) Deer wander the streets, attacking any and every foodstuffs they can find from leftover fishcakes to any and every piece of paper they can find (we later see one with his head down a bin)
“Oh fuckballs,” Gillian as she starts eating fried fishcake on a stick “This tastes like shit, yeach.”
A chorus of explietives bring us back to present. We have been exchanging filthy words when we spot the thin trickle of dirty brown water. I am momentarally tempted. Of course, on top of being stupid enough to thinking that a 2.4 mile verticle walk would be achievable we also, both of us, forgot to bring any water. We have sweated out about twice our body weight in water at this point and would murder for some nice cool water.
The tora of Mijajima is probably one of the most famous images in Japan. A giant red tora sitting in the sea with an amazing greenery of jungle stretching behind. When the tide is out many wander out to take a picture under it.
And as we finally cross the line, panting and acheing and ignoring one of the most spectacular views I will (a few minutes later) ever see all we can do is search around for water. We spot it in unison, a small stall over in the corner with a sly, orange robed monk with a knowing smile (bastard monk!) I order two and down then instantly.
The view is amazing, and worth the journey (but only in retrospect) and as we start our journey home (we take the lift on the way down) a deer jumps out in front of Gillian, which looks pretty awesome.
The Miyajima harvest festival is building when I wander out of Backpackers hostel and into the town centre. There is a market hustle and bustle. A guy making pottery, people selling their earthen wares, a band of musicians wandering and playing music, guys dressed in dragon suits weaving in and out of the musicians and the crowds, snapping their giant wooden teeth loudly; a few shy Japanese children holding tight in their mothers arms, cringing and crying, the parents and their friends politely laughing at their. I grab a coffee and a custardy bread from the local bakery, who have set up a stall outside in the shop specially.
“Ariga – o” – me
“Ar’g’o’sieeem’s” – her
A rapid exchange of bows.
A pretty young girl (Japanese girls, as a general rule, are “pretty” as opposed to “hot” because they’re always so godamn quiet and polite.) reads announcements, dressed in her quaint festival dress, from the side of a constructed stage in the centre of the towns main square. A Japanese rockabilly band, all quifs and leather, are setting up to play. They look fantastic in their strangeness as they set up to play.
They do not dissapoint, singing a mixture of English and Japanese, very little of it audably English, they play away, the odd “Hey, baby, yeah baby” breaks through the otherwise impossibly translateable mess of language. But don’t get my wrong here, they are awesome. They are stupid-tastic at a level that could never breakdown my expectations of Japanese Rockabilly.
More interesting than the band themselves are the people that are all about. Old Japanese ladys, sitting out in front, clapping with one hand as they shade their face from the early morning sun with an umbrella with the other. Some kids seem interested (others less so) dancing quietly to themselves, unawares. Fucking all manor of cameras, camcorders, mobile phones snapping and humming and recording away. The odd foreign tourist standing, enjoying, in that out-of-touch, not-quite-getting-it way that we all seem to exist here in.
And then I see her, hanging around next to a bench which seems to have been unofficially dedicated to the hardcore rockabilly fans, all dressed in classic rockabilly clothing but holding the look with that spark of individuality among the flock that the Japanese do so effortlessly. She stands upright, her skirt, tight and long, clings loosely to the contours. A blouse, white, with red triangles, hangs from her body as if skupted ontop of it. Big fat, glasses and a French berrai perched loosely atop of her head; I am in love.
And what I really love is not just her style and look because you can see from her that it’s not just about standing around, posing and persing, because she genuinely loves the music too and dances along to all of the songs with gusto. Waving her hands with as she dances (think Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction) with three festival-dressed girls in clear komono’s, she cares not about how people percieve her. She does her own thing.
I will raise these monkeys as my own and they shall become an invincible Army of the Monkey Undead* the likes of which the world has never seen. They will pick the flesh off all who defy me much like they pick flies and bugs off their back at the moment. And people will know and respect and bow down before Shane Woods, Lord of the Monkeys!
*undead part is optional
Apart from maybe kittens, puppies and certain varieties of very white rabbits, little Japanese girls are probably the cutest things in the world. Wheter it be making their way into school on some of the busiest commuter trains on their own in the morning to this girl who is just having a little bit of a sit down on the steps of one of Mijajima’s Temples.