Wednesday, August 07, 2013

RTW2013 Leg 8: Sakaiminato to Hiroshima

7/12 - Japanese territorial waters

I'm all packed except for a few cabin utensils and maybe the Scotch if I can't convince the Russians to take it.  If they don't, some Japanese hobo is going to have the best day of his street life, because I don't need it any more and really need to drop pack weight/volume in order to do the tourism I have planned and bring omiyage back.  A lot of what was useful in Russia is no longer so, and when something's use is out, it needs to be ditched ASAP.  I need to create a lot of space in the main pack to go back airmobile with two boxes of momiji manju in there, so the cull made this morning is just the start.

I also changed the camera battery out; it wasn't dead per se, but it had been dropping to one bar pretty frequently, and I didn't want to have to scramble for a quick-change somewhere on the train or in the Peace Park.  I can charge up in the hotel without interfering with anything else, because the sockets in Japan, finally, won't require my trusty plug adapter.

 photo rtw0761_zps9926757a.jpg

0761. First sight of land; the northern spur that protects Sakaiminato harbor.

 photo rtw0762_zpse8ca9ff8.jpg

0762. A freighter ahead in our track.

 photo rtw0763_zps5a6e3581.jpg

0763. Sky and sea.

 photo rtw0764_zps5e8215d8.jpg

0764. Broadside on that freighter.

 photo rtw0765_zps26de13fe.jpg

0765. Rock and lighthouse astern.

 photo rtw0766_zps549e8c9c.jpg

0766. Rounding the spur.

 photo rtw0767_zps2eb47a19.jpg

0767. Exposed rocks at the tip.

 photo rtw0768_zps6e2bd0ba.jpg

0768. On to the north side of the harbor.

 photo rtw0769_zps5091554e.jpg

0769. John's friend from bunk 5 clowning around.

 photo rtw0770_zps75eb9071.jpg

0770. South to the Tottori coast.

 photo rtw0771_zpsaa4c710b.jpg

0771. Our bow cuts the waves into regular lines of foam.

 photo rtw0772_zpsbe98b60e.jpg

0772. Fishing boat, sitting at anchor.

 photo rtw0773_zps0e058c1a.jpg

0773. Coast Guard cutter on station.

 photo rtw0774_zps0d3a7ac7.jpg

0774. Closer to the coast.

 photo rtw0775_zpsf2896646.jpg

0775. Broadside on the cutter.

 photo rtw0776_zps3a641b6c.jpg

0776. Freighter in drydock.

 photo rtw0777_zpsd0aae5d2.jpg

0777. Town and bridge ahead.

 photo rtw0778_zpsf2e66b2c.jpg

0778. Buoy and breakwater.

 photo rtw0779_zpsf7c29e4a.jpg

0779. Ahead to the bridge, since we're not gonna go under it.

 photo rtw0780_zpsfd66e37c.jpg

0780. Breakwater and seawall.

 photo rtw0781_zps14e8f822.jpg

0781. Passing the lighthouse.

 photo rtw0782_zpsfe84ee77.jpg

0782. Headland of the port.

 photo rtw0783_zps110d234d.jpg

0783. Heron at the foot of the seawall.

 photo rtw0784_zps890b1a72.jpg

0784. Across land and waters into town.

 photo rtw0785_zpsdadfb54e.jpg

0785. Kaikoumaru 36-go at anchor; I saw #23 tied up a little further on while hiking into town, so not all of #1 through #35 are on the bottom of the ocean.

 photo rtw0786_zps2c114124.jpg

0786. Tug steaming past.

 photo rtw0787_zpsc1e695ed.jpg

0787. Unusual power plant or something amidships.

 photo rtw0788_zps1897a0bd.jpg

0788. Kanji on the bow; not read onsite.

 photo rtw0789_zps3532c9ca.jpg

0789. South foot of the bridge as we started to turn.

 photo rtw0790_zpsa6f6b0a6.jpg

0790. Mountains on the north shore.

 photo rtw0791_zpsefc76ca7.jpg

0791. Forest and narrow road below.

 photo rtw0792_zps1ff70ebc.jpg

0792. Turning to expose the north shore.

 photo rtw0793_zpse3b83ba2.jpg

0793. Small bridge over an inlet.

 photo rtw0794_zps3953e0ea.jpg

0794. Water, forested mountains, sky.

 photo rtw0795_zps42566c79.jpg

0795. Weather radome north above the town.

An American traveling alone from Russia to South Korea to Japan with an immense army pack and a thick beard invites questions; despite a professional but very thorough search by Japanese customs, I didn't have to surrender anything else, and despite a longer than expected hike along the waterfront, I didn't get killed by a truck on the narrower Japanese roads.  Also, despite that longer hike and a lot of time in Mizuki Road -- three caps and a gatchapon getto -- I made the 10:30 connection out of Sakaiminato.  Hopefully, I can get the morning written up in the 45 minutes to Yonago.

 photo rtw0796_zpsf07896e8.jpg

0796. There's something about the smell of an open drainage ditch in summer that's uniquely Japanese.

 photo rtw0797_zps8a7d84da.jpg

0797. Taka ga ippai -- probably kestrels watching out for spare fish guts.

 photo rtw0798_zps2d41a268.jpg

0798. Bridge span from the road.

 photo rtw0799_zps2b8c575d.jpg

0799. Everything, including Chugoku -- 'Central', here, not 'China' -- Electric Power, has its mascot chara.

 photo rtw0800_zps13e844f0.jpg

0800. Ads for Mizuki Road attractions.

 photo rtw0801_zps7917cedc.jpg

0801. Bridge over rural foliage.

 photo rtw0802_zps1df580c9.jpg

0802. Along the wharf road.

 photo rtw0803_zps7f0829c1.jpg

0803. Character memorial stone.

 photo rtw0804_zps5f608cfb.jpg

0804. Cafe Popeye.

 photo rtw0805_zps646bba4d.jpg

0805. Signs pointing to turn-ins.

 photo rtw0806_zps5dc0c5af.jpg

0806. On Mizuki Road; both sides are lined with these characters from Gegege no Kitaro.

 photo rtw0807_zps3d3898ff.jpg

0807. Sakeya with Medamaoyaji on the sign.  On the way back, I picked up a local microbrew with a comic-themed painted bottle, as seen later on.

 photo rtw0808_zps360e391a.jpg

0808. All mouth.

 photo rtw0809_zpsb3154f85.jpg

0809. Kitaro plate in the sidewalk.

 photo rtw0810_zps73df1870.jpg

0810. Salaryman Yamada, freaking out at all the youkai around him.

 photo rtw0811_zpsa7522419.jpg

0811. Big statue of Nezumiotoko.

 photo rtw0812_zps933845a5.jpg

0812. My Dad the Eyeball.

 photo rtw0813_zpsffe81811.jpg

0813. Kitaro, wearing a certain battered army hat that by this time, had in one way or another been entirely around the world.

video20: Rotating eyeball fountain.

 photo rtw0814_zps87b98aa3.jpg

0814. Park closer to the station.  Note the lamps.

 photo rtw0815_zpsf0729e37.jpg

0815. Kitaro and Medamaoyaji.

 photo rtw0816_zps695fdd36.jpg

0816. Characters over the Tottori map.

 photo rtw0817_zps4d525d0f.jpg

0817. Focus on the totem pole.

 photo rtw0818_zps4ecf6831.jpg

0818. Big panel on the station building.

 photo rtw0819_zps14160e6f.jpg

0819. Sensei at his desk.

 photo rtw0820_zps21a6f5dc.jpg

0820. The Nezumiotoko train, outbound to Yonago.

Barely done, with ten minutes to spare.  The pen is also almost done, but should have enough in it to reach Hiroshima.

- Yonago -

 photo rtw0821_zpsb1dcbe1d.jpg

0821. More charas on the limited express.  This trip will use all three classes of JR in regular service: the local train got me to Yonago, and this normal intercity express takes me to a connection with the Shinkansen.

video21: Arakawa past the bridge, at great speed.

I likely won't be able to take many pictures from the train, despite the two-hour journey; part of this is the speed (which was not really an issue in Russia), and part of it is that this train has to cross the Japan Alps, which means tunnels.

 photo rtw0822_zpsff06553f.jpg

0822. Misty mountain ahead.

 photo rtw0823_zps02861734.jpg

0823. Better-defined peaks behind.

 photo rtw0824_zps278c1da9.jpg

0824. Fields and orchards.

 photo rtw0825_zps21e2727a.jpg

0825. Ahead; mountain and village.

 photo rtw0826_zps4f964ae2.jpg

0826. Mountains, houses, and either Medamaoyaji or that guy from Siberia again.

 photo rtw0827_zps20272b20.jpg

0827. Three rounded domes.

 photo rtw0828_zps53643848.jpg

0828. Smoke across fields.

 photo rtw0829_zpsec3c749d.jpg

0829. Inside the cabin.  This is a midday train on a Friday going cross-country -- most of the main cities in both the Kanto and Kansai plains are on the south side of the mountains -- so there's next to nobody in the car.

 photo rtw0830_zpse2409b47.jpg

0830. Viaduct between peaks.

 photo rtw0831_zps2a093139.jpg

0831. River valley just before a tunnel.

 photo rtw0832_zps7eb0c957.jpg

0832. Ahead to a range of valleys.

 photo rtw0833_zps39878678.jpg

0833. Valley and river.

 photo rtw0834_zps3425aea0.jpg

0834. Wide mountains bored through.

 photo rtw0835_zps200d19f7.jpg

0835. High peaks and that youkai.

 photo rtw0836_zps7c4df14b.jpg

0836. Peak and forest.

 photo rtw0837_zpsadccf2f5.jpg

0837. Mountain pass over station parking lot, Neu.

Going through these mountain villages and seeing tombstones by the fields and in people's very dooryards, it's easy to see how a guy from the rural north coast could and would work up a world of spirits and phantoms.  Here, the dead are not off in some park miles away -- no, the ancestors remain where they lived and died, in the same house or at least around the corner.

 photo rtw0838_zps00a67da0.jpg

0838. River and mountain pass.

 photo rtw0839_zps2e77c6ae.jpg

0839. Ahead on the river.

 photo rtw0840_zpsc45c399d.jpg

0840. Mountain, rounding a bend in the river.

My stomach's growling bad, and I've only got like 5 minutes between trains in Okayama.  Good thing I still have that last chunk of bread left over from Russia.

 photo rtw0841_zps30f8b62b.jpg

0841. Fields and mountain pass.

 photo rtw0842_zps7b9def42.jpg

0842. Great view with artifacts.  Try to avoid, take what you can get.

 photo rtw0843_zps1a2d486d.jpg

0843. Back to a grove of bamboo -- it's the green puffy stuff.

 photo rtw0844_zpsfb2943f1.jpg

0844. A river lines up.

 photo rtw0845_zpsfad756e3.jpg

0845. River, road, and mountains outside Shouyama.

 photo rtw0846_zpsc67c5049.jpg

0846. Shouyama village and mountains.

 photo rtw0847_zps007440ce.jpg

0847. High peak rising over others.

 photo rtw0848_zps6944d447.jpg

0848. Terraced fields through the reflections.

 photo rtw0849_zpsafbb37be.jpg

0849. This is a route-marked highway.  Japanese mountain roads are not for the faint of heart.

 photo rtw0850_zps146c03d1.jpg

0850. Back to a bamboo grove by the roadside.

 photo rtw0851_zpse5760cdc.jpg

0851. River bottom with artifacts.

video22: Truck on route 8.  This isn't a one-way road!  It's just got only one lane to it, for both directions to share.  Again, this is a numbered national highway.

 photo rtw0852_zps1332c055.jpg

0852. More of route 8.

 photo rtw0853_zps4faa9812.jpg

0853. River, fields, and viaducts.

 photo rtw0854_zps5d39d093.jpg

0854. Ahead on a mountain stream.

 photo rtw0855_zps6374f4de.jpg

0855. Back at the mountains passed through, outside -- I would not make this up -- Bit'chuu-Kojiro.  Sorry, going back to Japan has apparently made me go back to being nine years old.

 photo rtw0856_zpscc12385f.jpg

0856. River below the mountains.

 photo rtw0857_zps07e8faff.jpg

0857. Flooded rice paddy behind.

 photo rtw0858_zps9a636f9b.jpg

0858. Mountains and city, coming in to Niimi.

 photo rtw0859_zpsde609f0e.jpg

0859. Scoured landscape behind a bridge.

 photo rtw0860_zps0aa8b8cc.jpg

0860. Another scoured mountain.

 photo rtw0861_zps4f688d08.jpg

0861. Both sides cracked.

 photo rtw0862_zps61bc30e1.jpg

0862. Same mountain, more sky.

 photo rtw0863_zps741d7cf3.jpg

0863. Terraces cut by quarrying.

 photo rtw0864_zps393999f9.jpg

0864. Quarried and scoured mountains.

 photo rtw0865_zpsdcb2c110.jpg

0865. More sheer slopes ahead.

There's about two more incredible views I don't get for every picture that makes it into this record.  As in Siberia, I can only recommend taking this trip yourself -- and as a bonus, it's shorter and involves no "schnitzel" of indeterminate origin.

 photo rtw0866_zps206bc9e6.jpg

0866. River in flood.

 photo rtw0867_zps4b6d8215.jpg

0867. Into mountain fastnesses.

 photo rtw0868_zps6340cdc8.jpg

0868. Ahead over rapids.

 photo rtw0869_zps48604bb0.jpg

0869. Bridge and mountains upriver.

 photo rtw0870_zpse676a30d.jpg

0870. Terraced fields and old-style house, Bit'chuu-Kawamo.  Sorry, still 9.

It's a good thing I brought Summer Wars, because after all this rural scenery, I really want to watch it again.

 photo rtw0871_zps68832218.jpg

0871. Riverbank and shorings.

 photo rtw0872_zpsed1d4693.jpg

0872. Wide river in bright sun.

 photo rtw0873_zpsddc2d70e.jpg

0873. Sky above the mountains.

 photo rtw0874_zpsc98b5e9d.jpg

0874. Ki no nai yama, Kinoyama.  HURR PUN HURR.  Going native already.

 photo rtw0875_zps708743e5.jpg

0875. Mountaintop through a gnarled tree.

 photo rtw0876_zpsfda06807.jpg

0876. Impression/accident: clouds and traditional roofs, Bitchuu-Takahashi.

 photo rtw0877_zps57b99349.jpg

0877. City, mountains, and sky, Bitchuu-Takahashi.

 photo rtw0878_zpsf3899ffd.jpg

0878. See, I'm not making these place names up.

Further clarification: these places are all in Bitchuu Province, but because there are a lot of places in Japan called Kawamo, Kojiro, or Takahashi, they need to be further specified in order to become a unique JR station code.  You can see this in a couple stops on the Trans-Sib as well; Chernishevsk-Zabaikal'sk, for example, means "the Chernishevsk in Zabaikalskiy Krai, and not any other Chernishevsk served by RZD that might have name precedence".  Also, you can see from the kanji on the sign that the pronunciation is really more in the line of "bit'chuu" rather than a lulzy false cognate; you'll want "bich'chi", in katakana, if you want to call someone a bitch in Japanese like a Tokyo teenager.  (Chanbara fans and wannabe yakuza will still use 糞尼 like normal, preferably in heavy brush calligraphy if possible.)

 photo rtw0879_zpsad691904.jpg

0879. Mountain slope and field, leaving town.

 photo rtw0880_zps055c9bc2.jpg

0880. Great mountain color.

 photo rtw0881_zps7ed22706.jpg

0881. Into the scar.

 photo rtw0882_zpse0a4c78e.jpg

0882. Valley behind, including a bit of a flood dam.

 photo rtw0883_zpscd2210b1.jpg

0883. Western building in the middle of the mountain.

 photo rtw0884_zpsafd0f4b0.jpg

0884. Village in a valley.

 photo rtw0885_zps499c684a.jpg

0885. Urban agriculture; a working rice paddy in Kurashiki.

- Okayama -

 photo rtw0886_zps40342d11.jpg

0886. Okayama shinkansen tracks.  Definite German -- ok, Berlin Hbf -- feel to it.

Sightseeing from the shinkansen is an exercise in stupidity.  So is expecting to get a seat in a non-reserved car in the middle of the day Friday.  :[.

- Hiroshima -

 photo rtw0887_zps7ac49c5d.jpg

0887. Billy the Kid karaoke bar, Hiroshima.

 photo rtw0888_zps8b40a083.jpg

0888. The boss of all of them.

 photo rtw0889_zps81884829.jpg

0889. Your friend and mine, Yukichi-san.

 photo rtw0890_zpsb3fd6d3b.jpg

0890. The get of all cap gets, at least from this trip.  The bottle is coming home as well.

Japan is awesome, but deadly hot and sticky, especially in full pack.  October is probably very nice, but in October you're already getting snow in Irkutsk, making this particular trip a little iffy.

The plan is to rest a little, get an unagi-don outside the station, then take the #6 line to the Peace Dome and look around there as an adult, then hare back, load up on caps wherever possible, maybe hit up an ATM, and then drink, relax, watch Summer Wars, taunt friends on the internet, and finalize plans for tomorrow.

 photo rtw0891_zps3ca401a9.jpg

0891. My room looks out onto the wedding garden/putting green.  A great reason to keep the curtains drawn -- but then again, "giant hairy naked gaijin scratching himself" is just about the best reason for a wedding to be ruined ever.

 photo rtw0892_zps84480a42.jpg

0892. 日本のアニメ!!!1!

OH FUCK it's sumo season.  I forgot.  Well, there goes any thought of doing anything else.  Dammit.

 photo rtw0893_zps03539d2a.jpg

0893. No 13, but cleverly disguised.

 photo rtw0894_zps33746d24.jpg

0894. Campaign truck ready to roll.

- Peace Park -

 photo rtw0895_zps995b079b.jpg

0895. The fire of one sun -- can you imagine a thousand?

 photo rtw0896_zps9fe2f25d.jpg

0896. Memorial stone by the river.

 photo rtw0897_zps54f6b13c.jpg

0897. Genbaku-dome, under rework.  The skeleton of the hall survived because it was a reinforced concrete building almost directly under (not quite, we'll get to the hypocenter in a second) the detonating bomb.  The force of the blast was almost directly down (lateral shockwaves are a lot worse for tall structures, especially driving debris), and there was less air between the detonation and the building to get turned into a shockwave.  The building survived the immediate blast, but this does not change the fact that it's a nearly-hundred-year-old structure that got attacked with a nuclear weapon seventy years ago.  It will fall down and stop being an effective memorial if it's not worked on from time to time.

 photo rtw0898_zps8fe5075b.jpg

0898. A look down to the river below.

 photo rtw0899_zpse8fdb061.jpg

0899. Needing no reconstruction -- only one source of heat can deform cast concrete like this.

 photo rtw0900_zps4469eebf.jpg

0900. The original AP.

 photo rtw0901_zps4c2fae3d.jpg

0901. Memorial tower south of the dome.

 photo rtw0902_zps86ed4644.jpg

0902. Look up -- the fire is already falling upon you.  At the hypocenter.

 photo rtw0903_zpsed2fa681.jpg

0903. Hypocenter memorial plaque.

 photo rtw0904_zpsac698f6b.jpg

0904. This priest guards a cemetery near the park.  The purpose is unmistakable, the graves unphotographed.

 photo rtw0905_zpse907ae59.jpg

0905. A long look up the river.

 photo rtw0906_zps805f717b.jpg

0906. And above, into the far mountains.

 photo rtw0907_zps77d58417.jpg

0907. Eternal flame and memorial.

 photo rtw0908_zpsb39ff1b5.jpg

0908. Children's peace memorial.

 photo rtw0909_zps4470d0c0.jpg

0909. Waves in the topiary.

 photo rtw0910_zps0fea3c7c.jpg

0910. Memorial mound, west side of the park.

 photo rtw0911_zps504bb64f.jpg

0911. Cenotaph amid the trees.

 photo rtw0912_zps0cdd0805.jpg

0912. Peace bell.

 photo rtw0913_zpsb1d7161a.jpg

0913. Dome reflected in the river at sunset.

In early August 1945, my paternal grandfather was a corpsman on a destroyer operating in the Pacific theater.  He had survived several kamikaze attacks, including one that he somehow managed to sleep through entirely.  The date was unknown, but everyone in the fleet knew that with Okinawa conquered, the next step was an invasion of Kyushu, sometime in the fall of 1945.  The Japanese had resisted to the death on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and the expectation was that they would defend the home islands even more vigorously.  With initial estimates of 1 million Japanese deaths (military and civilian) on Kyushu, and 500,000 American casualties before the island was taken/pacified enough to be used as a springboard into southwestern Honshu, it is likely but not certain that other kamikaze attacks would have come, and my grandfather would have left the theater in a rubberized bag to be mated up with a pine box.

But there was no invasion of Kyushu.  Instead of a million to a million and a half dead across both sides, about 200,000 Japanese died either in the immediate blasts or from fallout and radiation poisoning in the weeks, months, years, and decades after, because the United States unilaterally decided that the horrors of nuclear war were not worse than the horrors that would follow without it.  It was the right decision for me, a literal child of the bomb, and thousands if not millions like me, Japanese as well as American, who would never have lived if our ancestors had died in a useless and suicidal conventional fight to reach the same conclusion.  But it was the wrong decision for literally everyone else: the thousands of civilians instantly incinerated out of a wide blue sky, and the tens of thousands more who died in horrible pain at the rivers boiled and ash fell that killed flesh before the heart stopped, and also everyone else in the world, then, since, now, and forever, who live under the sword of Damocles that Truman forged.  "The Allies" did not bomb Hiroshima.  The President of the United States, with sole authority over his nation's nuclear weapons, made the unilateral decision that it was less bad to use them than not to.  Right now, there are eight heads of state with the ability to make that decision.  Tomorrow, there may be nine or ten.  The day after, not all of them may necessarily be heads of state.  The fission reaction, at criticality, does not care.

I lived in Dresden, and here as there, the memorials of atrocity are also a lived space for the population; you can't keep in mourning forever.  But there's something different here as well, a sense that something different was at play.  Since there have been cities, armies have sacked cities, burned them, and slaughtered innocents by the hecatomb.  The difference here, as at Auschwitz -- physics here, business administration there -- is the realization that science has provided us a weapon too sharp for mortals to wield, whereby the killing capacity multiplies and multiplies to and past the point at which it can be effectively controlled.  The nuclear weapons community tries to pretend past this with dial-a-yield and increased precision allowing smaller warheads, but this is ultimately bunk: your choice is between a holocaust or an even more unacceptably large holocaust.  What we need instead, as every scientist with an ounce of humanity who worked on the bombs came to realize, is a new way of thinking, a new way of human conduct, whereby we never get to a place where it is not worse to use nuclear arms than to not use them.  Are we there yet?  No reaction has flashed in anger since 1945, which is a good start, but there remain thousands, millions, maybe billions not yet convinced.  All the time we have is until one or more of them find themselves in Truman's chair.

 photo rtw0914_zps3f6d0f33.jpg

0914. Helical twists in the Seiko clock tower.  Hope, or another warning?

 photo rtw0915_zpsa1f4329b.jpg

0915. Dark clouds over the peace dome.

 photo rtw0916_zps27ee7348.jpg

0916. Back at the station, a pachinko parlor lights up the night.

 photo rtw0917_zps60044d19.jpg

0917. Back streets of Hiroshima at night.

The problem with Japan at this time of year is that it only starts getting livable at like 8pm.  This is fine -- places stay open till 3 -- if you have stuff to do during the day, preferably inside, but it's a little hard for someone with two days only and a need for daylight.

 photo rtw0918_zps267bab4b.jpg

0918. Kankohi LIKE A BAWS.  This is truly the boss of all can coffees; as the name implies, it's dead black, without milk or sugar, exactly how I make my own.

 photo rtw0919_zps50b2076d.jpg

0919. Even Japan has crappy Flash shows, too.

Watching Giants-Dragons with some Sapporo.  Family Mart only has cans, so I need to find an actual sakeya to get bottles and from them, caps.  The beer garden is maybe late, maybe tomorrow; I kinda want to refuel my wallet first, because me + massbier ends with a large bill and many empty vessels.

It's not to be a bad omen, watching Pom Poko before I go to find an old house in a rural area that's seen a lot of development, but it's on broadcast TV, what am I supposed to do?

As I was falling asleep, I realized that while the pillow was ok, the cover wasn't as hypoallergenic.  Simple resolution; I turned off the AC, then unlashed my jacket from my pack to use as a blanket and slept, in a luxury hotel in the middle of Hiroshima, like I was in a bus station in the mountains.

No comments: