Weather: warm but humid in Tokyo / very cloudy as I traveled on the train / warm and dark at 5:00pm when I arrived in Hiroshima
MP3 track of the day: Spectres in the frog - The Last Samurai
After finishing on the internet around 9pm last night I joined my fellow hostel mates for a drink in the hostel 'garden' (not really a garden, just a small forecourt outside the hostel entrance, but I didn't know what else to call it). It had taken me quite a while to do all the things I wanted to do on the internet; having the TV on in the common room didn't help as it distracted me, but for the first time it was the slowness of the PC, and not the internet, that was the real problem. Checking my PC's memory I noticed that I had crammed it full of photos and this maybe why it was running slightly slowly.
Whilst having a drink I met a Canadian band who were playing at gigs in Tokyo, a couple of Australians and two very nice guys from Singapore who have offered to help me out if I get lost in their city. At around 11pm most of the group headed out for a night on the town, I however went to sleep as I was already tired and I had a train to catch tomorrow.
Again I was up a reasonable time; I got ready and, this time, I did go to Macdonlds for a pancake meal (£3.25) and I added on a cup of orange juice and a hash-brown for an additional 16p (20 yen). After this I headed to the supermarket to get some snacks for the journey before returning to the hostel to pick up my stuff, check-out and head to the train station.
I had no problems getting to the train station and I was super early; after sitting within the waiting room for a while I headed to my platform (as shown in English on the main computer signs within the train station) and I stood where my carriage was going to pull up (My ticket said that I was in carriage eleven, and on the platform there are signs saying where each carriage would pull up). Sure enough my carriage pulled up directly in front of me, but not only that, it was a bullet train.
First of all passengers had to get off, and as they did so, train crew would bow to them. Then the cleaners went on board for a quick ten minute clean; as the train was heading out the way it had arrived, the cleaning staff were able to rotate all the seats on board 180 degrees, so you are always facing forwards (clever that). I was then allowed on and I found my seat; I have so much leg room I can, just about, stretch out fully and the seats are lovely and comfortable. Food carts are pushed up and down the carriages with staff asking if anyone wants anything to eat or drink (well I reckon that's what they are saying) and there are also vending machines on board.
I sat in my seat, got out my PC, and started decanting photos off my PC and onto memory sticks. This is the life; plenty of room, a few snacks, a fast train and Mount Fuji in the window … brilliant!
However, after a while, the novelty of the whole situation started to wear off; it had been so easy catching my train that it didn't feel that adventurous and, actually, it felt a bit 'run of the mill' and boring (Yes I know Dad that boredom is a state of mind, however this was boring). Catching the train wasn't the only thing that was boring, the view outside wasn't that great either. Building upon building upon building that only stopped when we went into a tunnel, built through a mountain. So it felt like I was traveling for five hours through one big city with the occasional black tunnel. The best bit was actually to do with the train itself; firstly it would take me five hours to get to Hiroshima … five hours to get to the other side of the main island, on paper this train seemed as quick as a bullet, but it was strange that it didn't feel like it. My favourite bit about the journey however were the staff; as they entered, or left, my carriage they would always smile and bow. It was lovely to see; this is one of the great things about Japan, everyone is so polite and respectful.
I got off the bullet train at Osaka and had to change onto another train bound for Hiroshima; no problems with the change and this other train, though not a bullet train, was just as nice inside and the crew were just as courteous. Arriving in Hiroshima I followed my instructions to my hostel; K's Hostel is where I'm staying and it's very nice and very clean too. I had to take my shoes off at the entrance before checking in; the lady at reception asked what my plans were while I was staying in Hiroshima. I answered that I was probably going to the Piece Gardens and museum tomorrow followed by a trip to Miyajima (the place of the floating gate) the day after. She immediately produced a map of Hiroshima and let me know where the Piece Gardens and museum were and then she gave me a time table for getting to Miyajima, I like it here already. She also informed me that the Dalai Lama is here for a conference to destroy all nuclear weapons and that he will be at the Piece Gardens tomorrow. I was a little annoyed at this as he would probably steel my thunder (as I know that usually everyone wants to see the one otter around the world) but after I got over my jealously I decided it would be quite cool to, maybe, see him … though I don't know what he looks like. You can read more about the Dalai Lama's visit to Hiroshima here.
I put my stuff in my room and then it was time for laundry; I normally don't like laundry times as I'm always in fear that I will shrink everything I own. Now, times that fear by ten due to the fact I thought the instructions, for the washing machine, would be in Japanese …
… well actually no; the washing machine instructions were in Japanese, however there was a useful English translation sheet which made it all very easy indeed. What's more it only cost 300 yen (£2.30) to wash my clothes, with free washing powder and free tumble drying (In Australia I would have had to pay around £7 for the same service). As my clothes were washing I went outside, to the local corner shop, for another 'bento box' (same contents as yesterday) and I decided to treat myself to a yummy looking cake. When leaving New Zealand I thought my cake experiences were over … oh no; looking through the supermarket shelves over the last couple of days it looks like the Japanese love cake (of the mousse fashion) just as much as I do. I hadn't bought myself a cake in Japan yet but I decided to treat myself to a luxury cake tonight, which only cost for 210 yen (£1.50). I came back to the hostel and ate my dinner whilst my clothes were washing; firstly I managed to eat the whole contents of the 'bento box' (which was very nice indeed), with chopsticks, and I then ate the mousse pudding (okay I used a fork but it was yummy … might have another tomorrow).
After dinner I put my clothes away and just chilled until I went for an early night ready for a long day tomorrow. Cheap food, cheap washing and free internet … I thought Japan was supposed to be expensive.