Japan 2019 Day 5 - A Pilgrimage and RabbitsNov 7, 2019 8 min read
Someone forgot their coffee by the hotel vending machine. Mine now.
Visiting 2 spots today and I won’t be coming back to Hiroshima tonight.
I’ll be heading to Osaka after but I don’t want to lug my suitcase around all day.
I asked the receptionist last night and they offer luggage delivery through Yamato.
It’s cool how they phone your next hotel to confirm everything. It’s all so professional~
It cost ¥1600 and, even though I could’ve gone without it in the end, it was worth it.
My suitcase is already getting full. Again, regretting not bringing the big one.
I still have 3 more hotels to go through too…
Now, free from my burdens, let’s go~!
The tram was surprisingly empty.
It’s almost 9am so I guess people are already at work by now.
If language barriers didn’t exist I’d love to live here.
Just enough city to feel alive and have things to do but still small and compact.
And without the huge crowds of Tokyo or Kyoto/Osaka too.
Individually wrapped bananas
Grabbing some breakfast for the train.
Also this thermometer because it looks like the ones in anime. why did I buy this
wow I love Hiroshima
My luggage won’t arrive till tomorrow so my bag is stuffed with overnight items.
>buys more souvenirs to carry around
Lemon juice flavoured crisps. These were nice but I wouldn’t get them again.
Some snacks while I wait. A lemon flavoured manju and honey lemon candy drops.
Before you head off, turn around into the Family Mart next door.
They sell vegetables for the rabbits there.
This is one cute ferry terminal.
They sell souvenirs and there’s a tiny cafe inside.
Their website is also very cute: http://rabbit-island.info/en/
Even if you bought veggies you should buy some rabbit pellets at the counter.
There’s no rabbit food for purchase on the island so get them now.
If you return the empty packet they’ll give you a postcard.
20 minutes later~
Okunoshima (Rabbit Island)
Rabbits On Okunoshima Island Swarm Tourist
It all started when I saw this video a few years ago and thought “I gotta go there”.
It’s better to get here early when more rabbits are awake and hungry.
This would look so spooky in thick fog
The tallest electricity pylon in Japan is on this island somewhere.
Abandoned poison storehouse
Fun fact: They secretly manufactured poison gas on this island during World War II.
Some say the rabbits here are descended from the test subjects.
Though the Japanese Government claim all animals were destroyed.
The other rumour is that some school kids left their pet rabbits here and things got out of hand.
There’s no natural predators and humans bring them free food so they multiplied.
They’re the baby boomers of the rabbit world.
These rabbits are tame compared to their more cautious overseas cousins
There’s no one on this side of the island. Just abandoned ruins, rabbits, and me.
I seem to end up alone a lot…
These 2 have had enough.
If you don’t see any rabbits, start rustling your bag and they’ll come charging.
Don’t feed the rabbits near the road. They’ll get distracted and get run over.
Don’t bring your own rabbit. They’ll get bullied.
Don’t pick the rabbits up. They don’t like it.
Don’t want to spend too long here, already behind schedule from missing that train.
Is the order a rabbit?
Back at the island hotel for lunch.
There’s an english menu but the ticket machine itself is Japanese only.
I walked back and forth between the menu and ticket machine, double-checking the signs.
I’m a baka, I could have taken a photo instead…
The hotel was having a free lottery for some reason. Anniversary? I dunno.
I won a postcard 👌
Matcha sponge cake, cream and iced tea
They gave me the dessert first…
Omelette curry rice and toasted baguettes with lemon/maple syrup
I’m doing that thing again where I order way too much.
Also the baguettes came with a dollop of ice cream. Is that normal in Japan?
The prices were very reasonable considering this is the only restaurant on the island.
Coco’s in London is almost double the price of this place.
Only the strong survive
Taking a scenic walk back to the ferry instead of the shuttle bus.
Scale model of the island underneath this glass floor
Dropping by the visitor centre. It’s pretty large for such a small island.
There’s a lil museum here too about the local fauna and geology.
There’s supposedly a poison gas museum nearby too but I must’ve walked past it.
I’ve had enough of traumatizing imagery from the Hiroshima Peace Museum anyway.
I did not feel particularly relaxed.
Expectation: I’ll be done with rabbit island by, like, 1pm
All that waiting for trains and ferries add up…
Tamayura was a healing anime about a girl rediscovering her love for photography.
It was a slow-paced show that somehow gave off a sense of nostalgia.
A show that never stood out but I always appreciated it.
Oh wait hey. They have that Tamayura tour map I saw online.
The obaa-san’s face lit up then she ran into the back and found an english copy for me.
When people only visit your town because of a cartoon
I first watched Tamayura almost 10 years ago now, back when I was still in college.
That was when I was first starting to explore currently airing shows.
They continued to release new OVAs throughout my uni years and it was always a delight.
I got a wall scroll for the series’ finale movie that I didn’t really want .
I felt pressured with the grandma smiling at me and whispering shit like どうかな？
Townscape Conservation District
It’s not that far of a walk and there are signs pointing you in the right direction.
Even then, Takehara isn’t the only one in the Hiroshima Prefecture, there’s also Onomichi.
Other people: It’s a tree
Me: Omg, look at that tree, it’s so Japanese!
Back in the days of the samurai, there were laws restricting the display of wealth.
These laws included how tall people could build their homes etc.
So instead the merchants of Takehara would flex on each other with fancy rooftops (kawara)
and intricate lattice woodworking (koishi) fronting their warehouses.
You can even enter some of these empty houses for a fee.
Some others have been converted into museums.
The (expensive) dolls represent a Heian preiod wedding for the Emperor/Empress.
They’re passed down the family as heirlooms (because they’re expensive).
They used to be played with but now they’re just for display (because they’re expensive).
There are multiple tiers so the kids can’t reach the more expensive ones at the top.
Part of the town was actually closed until today due to flooding damage.
I didn’t see a mention of this on any english websites. Only the town’s Japanese website.
Important reminder to always check the Japanese site too.
It was a good thing I booked hotels with free cancellations.
I had to re-shuffle my itinerary so many times trying to juggle closures and the weather.
There was an event today to celebrate the re-opening somewhere.
There was like a mini concert and everything.
I didn’t really look into the details at the time since I decided to visit Okunoshima instead.
Even though ume is often translated as plum, the fruits are actually closer to an apricot.
Most known for making a type of wine, umeshu, or pickled into umeboshis.
In Chinese cuisine, the ume is made into a dipping plum sauce for duck or fried food.
The sakura (cherry) trees produce a type of cherry called a sakuranbo instead.
Saiho-ji’s Temple Bell
…How long have those barrels been there if they even show up in a decade old anime?
Fumeikaku of Saiho-ji
The tallest viewing deck in the area.
It houses an 11-faced Kannon statue inside.
Some of the scenes in the film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” were also shot here.
The 1983 film, not the later anime adaptation.
According to the tourism guide, this is the highlight of the town.
It’s all downhill from here I guess.
Horikawa Okonomiyaki Restaurant
The building used to be a soy sauce brewery 200 years ago.
That pink “cat” thing in the anime screenshot is the anime’s mascot, Momoneko.
The running gag is Fu is always trying to take a photo of him but fails.
You’ll be seeing more from him later.
The whole town is pretty much closed at this time and it’s not even 6pm yet.
Pretty different to the cities I’m usually in.
The name Takehara itself means something about bamboo fields.
Though there’s not much bamboo left in the town these days.
The pavement in front of Takehara historical folk-culture museum
The town still makes references to it like with these bamboo shoot traffic cones though.
Despite being a preserved area, people do still live here.
There are also cafes, museums and shops selling traditional crafts.
And they regularly hold festivals and activities in the bigger empty houses.
It houses the God of Business Prosperity as well as marks the end of the preserved area.
Merchants of Takehara would come here to pray for success.
Let’s walk back to find some stuff I missed.
Shokei Square by Masa Taka on Google Maps
The biggest event in Takehara is Shokei no Michi (Candle Festival).
The entire historical area would be decorated with candles housed in bamboo.
It has all the usual Japanese festival things like music, dances, shows etc.
It’s actually a fairly new event starting less than 20 years ago.
That bamboo tunnel is only set up during the festival.
Masataka Taketsuru and Rita Taketsuru
For the rest of the year, the only thing in the square are these two.
Takehara first made their riches by producing salt using innovative (for the time) techniques.
The modern half of the town is built on top of where the salt plains used to be.
The town was later known for their sake breweries. Masataka was born into one of those families.
He studied the art of scotch whisky in Scotland and got himself a Scottish waifu.
After returning to Japan, he worked at Suntory to establish Japan’s first whisky distillery.
Later, he founded his own whisky company, Nikka. Nowadays, Nikka is owned by Asahi.
(He never actually came back to Takehara.)
Fun fact: Suntory used to be named Kotobukiya. The same as the anime figure company.
Fun fact2: Suntory now owns the British drinks, Lucozade and Ribena.
Oh, it was literally round the corner. I was expecting to find this in a proper street.
Make a wish. It’ll come true if the jizo feels lighter than you expect when you pick it up.
Me: Wow, gee, bet this thing weighs a million pounds!
The cafe that Fuu lives in is a real place.
I’m sneaking photos through the window because I couldn’t find the entrance.
Seriously, I even checked the satellite view on Maps but I still can’t see the path.
It’s like you have to be spirited away to find it.
Well, I couldn’t go in even if I could because they’re closed right now.
The entrance of Jizo-do Hall
I get too tunnel-visioned recreating screenshots that I forget to take normal photos.
To be fairrr, I didn’t know this was a temple. I thought it was just a random street.
That wooden thing on the right with the poster is the Atago Shrine.
I also thought it was just some cupboard at the time because the shutters were closed.
Former Hinomaru Photo Studio
The shop where Fuu goes to get her camera fixed.
It’s not used anymore. They re-opened in the modern part of the town.
You can also explore Takehara through cat-streetview 😸
(It takes a while to load.)
Takehara Shopping District
Back to civilisation
Wtf? It’s only been 4 minutes since that bollard photo. How did it get so dark?
Oh, I didn’t see this when I first arrived.
Feels weird to take a picture of it when I’m leaving h-haha…
It’s great if you’re looking for a peaceful day away from the crowds.
Though there are probably tons of towns in the Hiroshima region for that.
Like the previously mentioned Onomichi for example.
So the train is timed to arrive at Mihara for you to transfer to the Shinkansen…
…but I still need to grab my things from the lockers.
Challenge accepted 😎
🏃 🏃 🏃 💨 💨 💨
I hung my umbrella up on the lugguage rack and it’s been swinging back and forth distractingly for the past 30 minutes but I feel like it’s too late to take it back down now. Sumimasennn…
Now, I can finally relax 😴
Higobashi APA Hotel
🔞 Some NSFW content below 🔞
Wow, this is literally right outside the station exit.
It’s so close that the exit is covered by the hotel’s entranceway roof.
Oh, cute, they even folded a paper crane for me.
It’s nice that most of my hotels provided bath robes. Less laundry to do.
I can see why this movie is the most popular ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Wow, this hotel has video-on-demand instead of channels. So advanced~
Still have to pay though. You buy the access key from a vending machine by the lifts.
The lenny face is fucked in this font (╯ ͠° ͟ʖ ͡°)╯┻━┻
This is a thin hotel.
APA have been caught cheating their earthquake safety tests before so…
Fingers crossed 🤞
They let you watch the first 5 minutes of the movies for free.
Though 5 mins doesn’t actually get you any action in most JAVs.
Let’s check out that movie that was on the cover of that pamphlet.
Why is the male actor censored?..oh hey, is that a Dreamcast controller?
…I woke up later to weird moaning sounds.
Turns out if you idle on the menu, the TV automatically plays the trailer of the movie.
And it just leaves those first 5 minutes on loop forever…
2⁄3 of Japan is covered in trees. Only beaten by Finland and Sweden in the developed world.
Fun fact 2:
Japan has too many trees, or rather, they planted too many of the same kinds of trees.
Only a small percentage of Japan’s forest today can be considered fully natural.
They’re having a hard time fixing it because all the farmers moved to the cities after losing their jobs because Japan imported cheap trees instead of using their own.
Which led to all these monoculture forests untended, causing havoc on the environment.
It’s all mainly cedar and cypress trees, which produce a fuckton of pollen during hayfever season.
# Train Station Souvenir Shop Pokemon branded manju Setoda Lemon Cake Shimagocoro Canned Hiroshima Lemon Oysters Lemonya keychains Kaomoji keychains Hiroshima Lemon Juice Water Mask # Rabbit Island Post card for returning the food packet Post card from that hotel lottery draw # Takehara Tamayura wall scroll Some stickers for buying that wall scroll
Wait, those lemon drops aren’t meant to be there. They’re from Day 3.