In short, couldnt go onto Ganryu jima as that involved us heading onto Honshu and getting a ferry from there (which quite frankly i couldnt be bolloxed to do) so instead we (Tanya and I) wandered around Fukuoka a bit, took in a movie and grabbed a bite to eat. Its worth mentioning that Fukuoka is the most relaxed city ive been to so far in Japan, cool street markets and a totally chilled atmosphere. From there, the bus station and an overnight bus through to Hiroshima.
Day 4 : Arrived in Hiroshima bloody early, still dark at least and after wandering around we headed to the port and booked two tickets to Miya Jima, an island just off the coast. A twenty minute journey later and we pulled up just 5 minutes away from the floating Tori. We spent most of the day there, wandering around the temple, doing the tourist gig and heading up the mountain by cable car. By about half way through the day we were pretty knackered and headed down the mountain, picking up traditional snacks and taking pictures of monkeys along the way. The evening found us in Hiroshima city, looking for a restaurant so i could try the local Hiroshima Okonimyaki (noodle omlette).
I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING
anyway....we found the food place and it was pretty damn good, on the way back to the hotel we swung by the A-bomb dome...no, not a groovy night club, but the exact site where the Hiroshima A-Bomb exploded.
Day 5 : Headed back to the Hiroshima peace park to take a closer look at the A-bomb dome (definitely a cool name for a night club). The weather was good and the park, while not the best park i've been too in Japan, was nice enough with more than a few reminders of past grimness. Having said that, i found amongst the variety of markers, statues and plaques to the dead in hiroshima that the beauty of Japanese historical editing was still present enough to include the korean dead as 'guests' rather than prisoners of war. To quote Al Murray however, 'they done the place up nice'. Seriously though, Hiroshima is one of the nicer cities in Japan, well worth a visit and its astonishing to see how the city has changed and developed in comparison with the rest of Japan.
In the afternoon we got on the express bus to Kyoto and chilled for a few hours while Tanya watched Collateral on my PSP (which got stolen about 3 hours later). After the PSP bollocks we headed to the Gion district which was the traditional 'entertainment' area in its day (you can still go down some streets and see Maiko (trainee Geisha) making their way to the variety of Japanese Inns in the area. First we stopped by Chion-in, the temple we went too the first time we were in Kyoto, but found that although we could hear the bell chiming the 108 tolls we couldnt actually get inside. Instead we headed over to Yasaka shrine which was insanely busy and involved us queueing for about 30 minutes amongst hundreds of people waiting to make offerings and pray for the new year. While waiting in queues such as this, you get a great insight into the Japanese culture, polite but totally inconsiderate as they trample kids, random old people and pets in a bid to get near the front. Still, you gotta laugh and if not a super polite gaijin elbow to the face seems to do the trick. Once i had made offerings at the shrine, we headed up to Kiyomizu, stopping off at the variety of food stalls on the way to sample to good, great and sometimes awful Japanese festival food. Kiyomizu is a temple that overlooks Kyoto and is on the of the impressive temples i've seen - especially when lit up at night time it can take your breath away. We were out pretty late, taking the the sights, drinking Sake around small makeshift campfires...that sort of thing.
Day 6 (the 1st of January for those of you paying attention) : Headed to Nara, ancient capital of Japan (pre-Kyoto basically), more temples and more offerings and ended up buying a bunch of Kimonos in case a Samurai unit appears this year or something (that LRP btw, not real life....kinda). Many tame deer, but after Miya Jima that was a bit passe. Still it was a great way to spend New Years day, and the atmosphere was really energized. Best parts of day was giant buddha and Inari temple (which we popped into on the way back to Kyoto). By the evening we were bloody knackered and so we got on the bus at around 11. One long bus journey later we arrived in the snowy and hellishly cold Nagano city.
Day 7 : ill continue this when my brain is working.....not much more to go.