Friday, August 31, 2007

Eh-hum # 197

I have been busy lately...and schoolwork has little to do with it.

Have been going around the country, within Kansai and the southern part of Japan. Since my resources were limited, I used the train and the very cheap 18-kippu. But the trade off was I had to transfer trains as much as six times. That was when me and two other friends spent three days and four nights at Kyushu and visited Kumamoto and Nagasaki. Prior to that, I went with a friend to Shiga (and went castle-hopping) and to myself.

In Shiga prefecture, my friend and I visited two castles (named after the cities), Hikone and Nagahama, which both had spectacular views of Lake Biwa, the country's largest lake. In the evening, we went to the prefecture's capital, Otsu, to view a water show (fountains) on the lake.
Just an overnight stay since I primarily wanted to visit two places: Peace Memorial Park (Genbaku Dome, Peace Memorial Museum, etc) and Miyajima (Itsukushima Shrine, see picture above for its famous torii). Though not in my original itinerary, I also visited the Hiroshima Castle (one of five I have visited so far). Hiroshima is five hours away from Kobe, so the train ride was bearable. I didn't mind the fact that I went there alone and truth be told, I had a great time. I was not in a hurry to visit the must-see tourist sites and really took advantage of the free (or paid, depends on your perception) buffet breakfast at the modest but well furnished hotel where I stayed. Again, the trade-off was that I had to politely ask complete strangers to take my picture and there were moments that I ran out of things to think about. Nonetheless, the whole Hiroshima trip was worth it and I was reminded how people can be both civil and cruel at the same time.

On the other hand, Kyushu is at the least 15 hours away from Kobe Sannomiya by train. Hence, out of four days, we spent the two days traveling. Wish we could've stayed there for a week, but we had to look after our expenses. Again, I had a grand time, even though I was beat when I got home. Like Kobe, Nagasaki is a port city and where Europeans first saw a glimpse of Japan. We visited its Peace Park and Peace Museum and historical sites such as Dejima and a Confucian Temple. While in Kumamoto, we went to Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan, via ropeway. That was pretty exciting, because shortly after we took pictures, we had to evacuate the viewing deck because the volcano started spewing smoke that reached the danger level.

I hope to visit more places, particularly within Hyogo and the Kansai region. I also have to do some shopping since will be returning to the Philippines by the end of September. I am excited to go home, but will need to organize the stuffs that I have accumulated in the past year, and that am sure will be a pain in the a**. Worse than spending money on trips and photocopies. Sigh.

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