Week 2 in Japan: Beppu, Hiroshima, and the beginnings of Kyoto

Week two of Japan has still been as exciting as the first, every day loaded with new experiences that I’ve been constantly trying to soak in. For our time time in Japan the more I experience the cities we visit, the more I know that despite the one month we are there, I am only getting part of the entirety. Thus, choosing what to do becomes all the more meaningful; the choices you make of what to visit are simultaneously deciding what you will skip. Digressing, I’ll continue into the happenings of the week

With the stop in Beppu last week, our second day at the city was focused on the Beppu Jigokui or “hells”. With the geothermal activity producing hot water which is used for the onsen baths, much also escapes out onto the surface, producing a variety of pools of water or mud with varities of color based on the minerals dissolved. Many would claim that food cooked in these pools have health benefits, and tourists often buy steamed goods from the vendors nearby. The next day was spent slowing down, and was nothing but the train ride back to Beppu coupled with a night’s stay in Fukuoka – the yatai were still fantastic.

Following Fukuoka we would head to Hiroshima for two days, with our first being a visit to Miyajima island. This island in the near inland sea was a incredibly picturesque place will nature still rampant – except for the deer who had since become fearless of humans. While we did stop at the Itsukushima shrine known for it’s floating Tori gate, the climb up to visit the rest of the shrines and temples on top of the mountains on the Island was fairly tiring. Persistence paid off, however, and gave us some of the best views on the trip yet. While in Hiroshima we also made sure to visit the peace garden and memorial museum as well. Each of the days there were also capped off with a Hiroshima specialty, okonomoyaki, a noodle dish mixed with an innumerable amount of ingredients.

From Hiroshima we would make our way to Kyoto, a city known for it’s great cultural significance from shrines, temples, castles, and historical background. Our first day there was spent at the Kanji museum (something I did my best to appreciate despite my lack of knowledge of the Japanese language) and at a samurai kenbu experience, a performance artform of the samurai used to depict their way of life. On our next day, we spent looking at Kansai-Gaidai University. And just yesterday we spent stencil dying our own handkerchiefs, wandering through Niji-jo castle, and getting lost in Gion. While in the area I made a stop with a few others to go see the reknown art Yayoi Kusuma’s exhibit nearby.

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