Friday, August 25, 2006

Homeless Camping

From August 21-25th four of us friends set off on a wild and crazy adventure to southern Japan. It was a lot different than I expected but it was a ton of fun. Below is the story told in pictures.

"Jo, what do you call camping with no tents?"
"I think it's still called camping..."
"Isn't it like homeless camping?"

We started off at 5:10AM Monday morning. And we spent a total of 16 hours the first day on the train. I definitely saw the sun rise... and set while on the train.
Overall we were on the train around 35 or more hours traveling from place to place... so needless to say we got pretty crazy/tired/goofy...
Keigo is watching for the train staff before trying to put his feet up like Mamo.

ya know how you find some part of nature you really like? My sister-in-law Becca really loves lighthouses... well, after this trip I've realized quite a lot about myself and one thing I learned is that I am a "bridge girl". I love looking at bridges over streams or mountains, etc. So here is a picture of a bridge around Shizuoka prefecture.
We didn't always follow the "keep your feet in front of you" and "keep your personal space to yourself" rules to much during the night hours of our traveling. Well, not during our daytime travels either. You just get to a point where you say, "hey, i've been on this beast for the past 5-10 hours, I'm going to get comfortable."
We played lots of games and one of our games was "2 Truths and a Lie" but while Mitsuru was thinking of his he fell asleep. NO LIE. He was thinking and then, BAM, just like that he was out. So here is a funny picture of me and how I truly felt that he fell asleep on our game.
Just kidding!

Our first stop was HIROSHIMA. We were so excited to get off the train and away from a station that we all counted to three and jumped off the train. We got to Hiroshima around 11PM.
First things first, let's eat real food. We found 180 yen ramen. No way! 180 yen?Then we slept in a playground (pictures later) and when we woke up we decided to do some traveling (yeah for trains) before going to Hiroshima. So we took a ferry to Miyajima Island which is famous for their shrines and festivals. They have a festival for "old kitchen knives" (no joke). This festival is when all old kitchen knives are celebrated and maybe thrown away? or discarded in a proper way. Talk about fun and crazy! Mind you, we slept outside so we got going every day around 7AM. (sun rises around 4 or 4:30 in case you wondered) So we had to find things that were open early enough to go.
Miyajima view from the ferry!
We visited this shrine which overlooks the bay. And Keigo decided to jump across. It's kind of far but luckily...
he made it... Jeremiah, our whole group looked at this photo and said, "Ohhh you look like Jeremiah!" ha ha! So this one's for you!
Well, I'm not one to back down from a challenge... so with all my luggage on I decided to jump as well....whew, good thing Michi was there. ha ha!!
The view from the shrine. They had these beautiful laterns and whooo whaddya know? A BRIDGE!!!
Our group, Mamo, Keigo, Mitsuru (Michi) Megumi and me!
After this it was off to Hiroshima!

There is a lot we could say/debate about Hiroshima but I'm not interested in that. What I do want to tell you is this: I felt that the museum/monuments were 100% unbiased. I felt that the people of Hiroshima were stating facts and not just giving one side to their experience. Whatever you think about war, Hiroshima, the atomic bomb... just leave it be for now. I had to "struggle" with this myself because there were people protesting the war in the Middle East and my friends in Japan are all peace-loving so they signed a petition for peace in the middle east. So I asked myself, "Whose side am I on?" And I thought about Jesus and what he would say and how he would respond to these monuments. And I felt that Jesus is on the side for healing and restoration and unity and love. I felt that Jesus takes "no sides" but the Fathers. So I decided I wasn't on anyone's side but just on my heavenly Father's as well. With this in mind, I could thoroughly enjoy Hiroshima and have my heart break for people all over the world.

This is a the "Children's Peace Monument" which was dedicated to a little girl named Sadoko. Sadoko was two years old when she was caught in the atomic bomb but had no initial reaction to the bombing. However, when she was ten she found she had a-bomb related luekemia. While in the hospital she folded a thousand origami cranes to keep up her courage, but eight months later she died. Her school wanted to do something so they came up with this monument which is of a girl on top, holding a paper crane. People from all over the world send a thousand paper cranes to this monument to be displayed. It was amazing. Inside the arch shape there is a bell you can ring for peace. There must have been millions and millions of cranes.

We went through the museum and it was eye-opening for me. There are stories and stories telling different perspectives of what happened in Hiroshima during August 6th. Most of the casualities were junior high students who had been assigned to work outdoors clearing roads and buildings for the war effort (not too sure about what they were doing, I was a little confused). Anyway, many of them were on their way to class when the bomb exploded (8:15AM). The heat was so intense that people within a certain radius just melted/evaporated along with their bones. I can't even begin to comprehend that. Towards the outer ring of "effect" people were badly burned and further out people just received the atomic rays. I don't know exactly how it all works scientifically so sorry if I got that wrong. Along with the effects that took place immediatly were the effects that took place for all their lives. Many people survived the inital bombing but died from cancer or other diseases later on. There was a range from August-December of many atomic bomb related deaths. People lost their hair, their gums bled, they grew tumor like bumps over their body. However, even after December many lived in fear of getting cancer or having something else happen to them. Like the little girl Sadoko.

People walked around pretty dazed and confused for many days because they had NO idea what an atomic bomb was or what had happened. A rumor circulated that nothing would grow in that area for 75 years. Yet, that fall a small plant grew which gave many people hope for restoration and healing.
Among the things in the museum were two of the most heart wrenching stories (for me)... but I don't want to be too graphic so I'll just tell you that the first was a little boy's tricycle and the second was a stone step that had been cut from in front of a bank. When the bomb went off, a woman who had been sitting there (waiting for the bank to open) "cast her shadow" on the step from the intense heat. It is still there to this day.
This building is the only building kept in it's complete state from after the bombing. This was directly underneath the bomb so it remained somewhat intact with its roof and walls but everything else was leveled.

The museum was not to horrify people or to say, "look at what happened to us" it was entirely for the purpose of teaching and sharing, "Look what happened, let's prevent others from going through this." The museum was not so much about the war (whose right/wrong) but all about what happened and how it affected them and how we can prevent this from happening again.

After Hiroshima we did a little more traveling (yay for trains) and ate at a conbini. Then we crashed underneath a train station, the next day (Wednesday) day we went to Himeji Castle. A famous and beautiful castle... for all of you Tom Cruise fans (which there may not be a lot left) part of "THE LAST SAMURAI" was shot in this castle. A lot of the leader's house shots were here. Thank Goodness they didn't set up the tour around that movie. There was nothing inside the castle about the movie.

Like I said, riding trains and lack of sleep made us a little crazy so Keigo and I decided it would be fun to ride down the rails in Himeji Jo(castle). Probably not the best idea but fun pictures were taken....


Jerry said...

joanna!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am CHO JEALOUS!! Your trip sounded SOOOO FUN!! Before you went, I didn't even imagine "backpacking" could be as fun as you're describing it. Haha. But I guess "backpacking" is different from "homeless backpacking". Haha!

Joanna Kay said...

Jer, No need to be jealous... I took plenty of pictures and blogged about you so you could "join me" on my backpacking adventure. Plus, you can't even imagine the stories I have about the dirty bathrooms... five minutes, a scrub brush, and some hardcore cleaner and we got ourselves a clean potty. Seriously! Five minutes. ha ha!! I'm missing you like crazy Jeremiah!

Mike said...

yo jo!

wow, i really wish i could have gone along with you... cole and i were talking that we would love to go there if we can come next year ;)

i really like what you have to say about the museum: he museum was not to horrify people or to say, "look at what happened to us" it was entirely for the purpose of teaching and sharing, "Look what happened, let's prevent others from going through this." The museum was not so much about the war (whose right/wrong) but all about what happened and how it affected them and how we can prevent this from happening again."

it must have been very hard to see all this.

thanks jo.

Kelli B said...

Jo! I think you are the cutest person ever. I love the pictures. My fave one is of you just waking up from sleeping, in your Iowa t-shirt. Reminds me of many many good are awesome!

I'm glad for your are growing and changing, sista.