Japan 2019 Day 5 - A Pilgrimage and Rabbits

Nov 7, 2019 8 min read


Rabbit


Previously on…

Hiroshima

Someone forgot their coffee by the hotel vending machine.

Ohayou~

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 Β₯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~!


My bag has a straps for camera equipment but I hang my umbrella on it. #HandsFree


Not walking today. Taking the tram instead.


The tram lines make the city feel so much more open. All this space πŸ‘

π•‹π• π•¦π•£π•šπ•€π•₯𝕔𝕠𝕣𝕖

The tram was surprisingly empty.
It’s almost 9am so I guess people are already at work by now.

Goodbye Hiroshima.
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.

Hiroshima Station

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


I still have time and there’s a souvenir shop inside the ticket gates.


Cursed.

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


I’ve been thinking about eating this fruit sandwich again for 2 years.
Damn, this onigiri is also really good.

Mihara

Mihara Station


Oh, fug. There’s no train this hour.


I don’t have that much time so I’m just going to hang around the station.


I’ll be coming back to this station later so might as well drop some stuff off.
Guess I didn’t need to use the luggage delivery service after all.




Good start to the day.

>.<

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.

Tadanoumi


Finally 😌

Before you head off, turn around into the Family Mart next door.
They sell vegetables for the rabbits there.


The port is only a 5 minute walk from the station. Just follow the sea.

Tadanoumi Port



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/


Hit the button on the top left for your return ferry ticket.


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.



β›΄ time.

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.


There’s rabbits everywhere but don’t stop yet.
The hotel shuttle bus is waiting to take you further inland.

Park Resort


There is a single hotel here that has a cafe and souvenir shop.
There’s also a campsite but you can walk round the whole island in a day anyway.
Or you can rent a bike instead.

???

This would look so spooky in thick fog

The tallest electricity pylon in Japan is on this island somewhere.


Even the ocean in Japan looks like an anime.


Woops. I was looking for the lighthouse but I walked in the wrong direction.

Abandoned poison storehouse

Fun fact: They secretly manufactured poison gas on this island during World War II.
Rape and chemical weapons. No wonder the Chinese hate Japan.


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.
Β―\(ツ)/Β―

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.

Even if you don’t see any rabbits, just start rustling your bag and they’ll come charging.

Remember:
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.

Park Resort

Is the order a rabbit?

Back at the hotel for lunch.

There’s an english menu but the ticket machine itself is Japanese only.
I walked back and forth, double checking the signs, like a baka gaijin.
I could have taken a photo of the menu.

The hotel was having a free lottery for some reason. Anniversary? I dunno.
I won a postcard πŸ‘Œ

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.


Oishii πŸ˜‹

Only the strong survive

Taking a scenic walk back to the ferry instead of the shuttle bus.

Visitor Center


Rabbit ears for listening to the soothing waves of the ocean.
Or for detecting an invasion from the enemy allied forces. That too.

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 a poison gas museum nearby 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.


Pay attention to me senpai.


The virgin rabbit: Desperate for handouts from its human overlords.


The chad devourer of worlds: All shall bow down before it.


That lump on the neck is a dewlap.
A flap of skin/fat that mature rabbits draw their hair from to line their nests.


I got tired of feeding them so I dumped the rest of the food on the ground.
I would make a terrible parent.

nii-chan

Tadanoumi


Well, that was fun/10.
If I had more time/wasn’t winter I would have liked to see more of the island.
Explore more of the abandoned ruins and see the beaches.


Onward to the 2nd town of the day!

Expectation: I’ll be done with rabbit island by, like, 1pm
Reality: 4pm
All that waiting for trains and ferries add up.


Train otaku, foley artist or spy?

Takehara


I am here for anime reasons but I didn’t expect to see this right outside the station.

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 was always appreciated.


I only came in to grab a map but now the old lady is talking to me ahhh.

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.


Guess I didn’t need to print my own.

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γͺ?


Japan is always an interesting mix of old and new.

nii-chan

Townscape Conservation District

It’s not that far of a walk and there are signs pointing you in the right direction.


Takehara has the nickname Little Kyoto thanks to this preserved historical district.
Well, Hiroshima’s Little Kyoto because there’s a bunch of towns with that nickname.

Even then, Takehara isn’t the only one in the Hiroshima Prefecture, there’s also Onomichi.
Β―\(ツ)/Β―

Matsuzaka Residence

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.


Neat and tidy.


It’s actually Hinamatsuri (aka Girl’s Day) tomorrow.
Parties are held for little girls during this period.


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.


Boys don’t get a day. They have to share a Children’s Day.


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. I decided to visit Okunoshima first instead.

Saiho-ji Temple



Wow, just like my animes.



I can’t tell if this is another ume tree or not. It’s kinda droopy.
You can imagine what the results are like when you try to google “Japan pink tree”.

Fun facts:
Even though ume translates to 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.


Forgot to take a photo of the temple itself πŸ˜›

Saiho-ji’s Temple Bell

…How long have those barrels been there?

Fumeikaku of Saiho-ji

The tallest viewing deck in the area.
It houses an 11-faced Kannon statue inside.

It was supposedly modelled after the Kiyomizu-dera temple.
The same famous Kyoto temple I visited back in 2017.



I walked past a monk and he had a keychain of Tamayura’s mascot on his bag.

Some of the scenes in the film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” were shot here.
The 1983 film, not the later anime adaptation.


How did this photo of me get here?



This view isn’t as high up as some cities but that makes it feel more intimate.
Coming from a mountain-less country, it’s cool to see mountains in the background.

According to the tourism guide, this is the highlight of the town.
It’s all downhill from here I guess.



That building on the left is a car park now. F.

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 failing.
You’ll be seeing more from him later.


It’s already closed. Guess I’m not having dinner today.

The whole town is pretty much closed at this time and it’s not even 6pm yet.
Pretty different to the Japanese cities I’m usually in.

Shukei Garden

The name Takehara itself means something about bamboo fields.
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.


It’s nice to get away from the bustle of the cities and tourists for once.


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.


Ebisu-do Hall

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.
#TheMoreYouKnow


This doesn’t seem like the right direction…

Okakae Jizo

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!

Cafe Tamayura

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.



These cute bamboo shoot bollards.

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?


I wasn’t expecting to keep seeing anime stuff all over the modern part of the town too.






When your entire town is taken over by a cartoon.




Huh, my camera was able to pick up the dark inside of this car.
The dynamic range of modern cameras keep surprising me.


Guys


Stop




Seriously


I wonder how long they’ll keep all this up for. The anime had its final movie back in 2016.


Still gotta make the journey to Osaka before I can end the day.

Okaerinasai

Oh, I didn’t see this when I first arrived, h-haha…


Goodbye Takehara.
I wouldn’t recommend it to most people unless the candle festival is going on or something.
I think I saw less than 10 humans my entire time here.

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.

Mihara

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 😎

πŸƒ πŸƒ πŸƒ πŸ’¨ πŸ’¨ πŸ’¨


Challenge failed πŸ˜…
The next Shinkansen isn’t going to stop at this station.
I’m going to have to take a local train to the next town over to catch it.

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…

Fukuyama


Cute socks.


Got some snacks while waiting for the Shinkansen to arrive.
Every Japan trip, I buy one of these anime mochi donuts, forgetting I don’t like them.
This strawberry/fruit milk is nice tho.

Now, I can finally relax 😴

Osaka

Shin-Osaka Station


Just over an hour later…
2nd time visiting Osaka. Though this time I’m mainly using it as a hotel base.

Higashi-Yodogawa Station


πŸ™ƒ



I got on the train going in the wrong direction… πŸ€¦β€β™‚οΈ


Sigh…

Higobashi APA Hotel

πŸ”ž Some NSFW content below πŸ”ž


キタ━━━━━━(οΎŸβˆ€οΎŸ)━━━━━━ !!!!!

Wow, this is literally right outside the station exit.
It’s so close that the exit is covered by the hotel’s entranceway roof.


It always sticks out when the service isn’t exemplary in Japan.
There was a big group of Mainland Chinese in the lobby and this receptionist was so done.


Lmao, there’s even less floor space than the last hotel.
Still, for Β£50 a night, it’s a clean room with a big comfy bed and a modern bathroom.

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 this most popular ( Ν‘Β° ΝœΚ– Ν‘Β°)

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 (β•― Ν Β° ΝŸΚ– Ν‘Β°)╯┻━┻


It’s the girl on the signs of that VR rental room.
Uh yeah, this hotel might not be completely family-friendly.

APA’s President is kinda like Japan’s Trump.
Each room includes his nationalistic book calling the Nanking Massacre fake news 🀨


These don’t look like school girls to me.


It’s 11pm and I still haven’t had dinner yet but there’s a konbini right next door.
These coffee Pocky were eh. Too sweet for me.


This is a thin hotel.
APA have been caught cheating their earthquake safety tests before so…
Fingers crossed 🀞


Beef bento, a fish sausage, and a piece of cheese that cost way more than in the UK.
The beef had a strong ginger taste but otherwise πŸ‘Œ



This APA has a big public bath. It’s too late today but I use it tomorrow.


( Ν‘Β° ΝœΚ– Ν‘Β°)



JAV titles are the best in the business.

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 and…oh hey, a Dreamcast controller.


This pillow is weirdly deep. I think it’s so you can fold it to make it thicker.
I was so tired that I fell asleep with all the lights and TV still on. Oyasumi… 😴

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…



Fun fact:
23 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.

Bonus:
It’s all mainly cedar and cypress trees, which produce a fuckton of pollen during hayfever season.


Fuck me πŸ˜‚ πŸ”«

Epilogue


Loot and souvenirs.

# 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.


The oysters were ok.



The lemon cakes were also just ok.
Like cupcake bread with a mild lemon flavour.


These manju were pretty nice.
I got the smallest box I could buy which happened to be these Pokemon ones.


Wow, this is a cool box.


Well, I have no use for this.

Next time…