Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kobe, Japan

We arrived in Japan on Tuesday, and didn't get cleared for immigration until around noon. It took a long time for everyone on the ship to stand in line, get their picture taken, and get their fingerprints taken. And by the time I got off the ship, it was maybe 11, but everyone didn't get cleared until later. So I had to sit in the terminal and wait, and by the time everyone was cleared, it was pointless to get back on the ship since my FDP started at 1. I went with my media class for a radio station called Radio FMYY. It was a radio station that formed after the huge earthquake 15 years ago because the emergency radio stations weren't sufficient enough for foreign people. After the earthquake in 1923, people were afraid of what might happen. At that time, they didn't have stations in other languages at that time, and they also only perpetrated information about the affected to the rest of the world, rather than giving more information to those being affected. Therefore, rumors started circulating between the local Japanese about foreign people, such as the Koreans. They turned on them and ended up murdering 6,000 Koreans because they believed these rumors. So Radio FMYY was created as an emergency radio to provide information to affected people in several languages. After a presentation, we toured a small part of the facility, the studio. Then we just returned to the ship. I decided to tag along with a friend who was going to the local "dollar store," or a 100 yen store. We took the metro to downtown and went to the dollar store and I bought a lot of cheap souvenirs, since I wasn't sure if I'd get the chance to find any elsewhere in Kobe. All of the shops here are very Westernized, and I wanted traditional Japanese items. So I had to settle for some cheap knickknacks in case I couldn't find other items. After that I just went back to the ship for the night.

The last day we spent in Kobe, I went on a trip to Hiroshima. I was really excited for it, until I found out we were going to be taking a 5 hour bus ride out there. The ride didn't end up being all too bad, we stopped a couple times at gas stations and I tried to find some food. But everything was in Japanese, and it was really hard to tell if it had meat in it or not. I settled on a hotdog......with noodles inside. It was very interesting. Besides the sauce they put in there, the noddle-dog was actually pretty good. We got there about 2 pm and started at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Our guide gave us until 3:50 to walk around the museum, which was hardly any time. I got a lot of the way through, but by the time we had to leave, I still had a couple rooms left but was only about halfway done with the audio guide. I was pretty disappointed I missed the room where they had clothes from some of those who passed away and their stories, and the room with information on what happened to buildings. I need to go back there someday to finish going through the entire museum. There was just too much to see in such a short time! After that our guide walked us over through the park and to the statue for the 12-year-old girl who passed away from leukemia. She folded 1,000 cranes while she was in the hospital, since they symbolize peace and recovery. We all had some paper cranes that we set down there. Then we finished the tour by walking to the Dome. That's the building they decided to keep the way it was after the bomb, they've just done a little restoration to so it could be preserved. It actually has some controversy around it because some people want it to be destroyed since it reminds them of an awful time. That building was probably one of my favorites to see, because it kind of made you feel like you were right back there in 1945. One of the things that struck me the most about my day in Hiroshima, was that none of the people in Japan have negative feelings toward Americans. They are all very polite, respectful, and friendly. Their only goal is to create peace and ban all nuclear weapons around the world - and, unknowingly to me, they've been in pursuit of trying to make that happen. And after that trip, we went back to the ship, but this time we took the bullet train. It only took about an hour and a half to get back this way, so it was a lot nicer trip back. When I got back, I grabbed some dinner and went to bed. We left for Yokohama that night, and the next day we spent in transit. I spent that day watching movies and doing homework. It turned out to be a very productive and relaxing day.

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