Six Hamilton students are spending their Spring Break in Kyoto, Japan, as part of a Japanese Studies class with Professor Kyoko Omori. The students spend their mornings taking Japanese lessons at Doshisha University and their afternoons visiting famous landmarks throughout Kyoto and Southern Japan.  Linh Do '18  offers the latest blog, about the group's trip to Hiroshima.

Saturday, March 18

On March 18, our group took a two and-a half hour "bullet train" ride from Shinkansen to visit Hiroshima. During a bus ride from Hiroshima station to Memorial Peace Park we got our first glances of Hiroshima and how thriving the city has become. Hiroshima today no longer has any lingering effect of atomic bombs. It is a vibrant city, very much dynamic and alive. Before the bombing, the Atomic Bomb Dome was known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. After the bombing, the Atomic Bomb Dome has been kept intact and has become a symbol of Hiroshima bombing. This building testifies to the level of destruction that existed here more than 70 years ago.

From the Atomic Bomb Dome, we walked through the Children Peace Monument, the Cenotaph, and stopped at the Korean Atomic Bomb Victims Memorial. As many Koreans were sent to Japan as slave labors during WWII, they accounted for about one-tenth of all the bombing victims. We met with the head of the Hiroshima-Ant Initiative who showed us the several trees that stood against the bombing effects. These trees gave Hiroshima people hope that lives will continue here despite the bombing effects.

After a lunch of Japanese bento-boxes, our final destination was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Walking through the exhibits, our group members had a closer look into the aftermath of the bombing. As we walked further into the museum, we learned about the effects of radiation on human body. It was depressing to look at the deformed body parts, but it was also a learning experience for all of us about the atrocities of war.

After touring the museum we took the Shinkansen back to Kyoto for dinner, ending our first day-trip from Kyoto. 

Tuesday/Wednesday, March 16/17:

After a grueling 14-hour flight from Chicago, we finally landed at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo.

With Winter Storm Stella resulting in the cancellation of two of our connecting flights, we did not think we would even make it to Japan. Luckily, some last-minute ingenuity had us on a 14-hour overnight train from Utica to Chicago to catch our international flight.

Once we got to Tokyo, however, we had no time to catch our breath. We had 30 minutes to take a taxi to a different part of the airport, head through customs, recheck our bags, go through security, and catch our final connecting flight to Osaka. With an impending hour and half bus ride to our hotel in Kyoto, you could say we were exhausted.

It wasn’t until we met up with Professor Omori in Osaka that we finally got hit with the realization that we were in Japan. Ramen shops, kimono-wearing women, and a distinct lack of English signage showed us that we were no longer in the United States. The bus ride was a blur, as the entire group passed out as soon as we sat in our seats.

With one more short taxi ride afterward, we finally arrived at our hotel in Kyoto, Citadines Karasuma-Gojo Kyoto, around 2 a.m. The hotel itself is a beautiful mixture of East and West, with a Zen Rock Garden juxtaposed with a sign advertising “FREE WIFI” in the lobby.

Before we headed to bed, the whole group was famished, so naturally, we went to the 7 Eleven across the street from our hotel. In Japan, 7 Eleven is a popular place for casual, on-the-go meals. Some group favorites included onigiri, or filled Japanese rice balls, yakisoba, fried Japanese noodles, and Calpis soda. Overall, it was long, and tiresome day, but we are looking forward to sightseeing around Kyoto as well as starting our Japanese lessons!

- Alex Hollister '18

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