Day 2: The Journey to Hiroshima

For those not following the planning of this trip, there are 2 key elements to it: Hiroshima Peace Ceremony and the Mt. Fuji Climb.  Today, I began my long journey from Tokyo to Hiroshima.

The day started well enough, I got to sleep in till about 8am. Had time to take inventory and understand what I had.  Initially I had planned to take my suitcase and leave my hiking pack.  However, given that there would be a stop in Osaka to visit Mari-chan, I decided against this for ease of use.  Thus, I left my suitcase at the Marriott and proceeded to Osaka.

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It was at this point where things began not going as planned.  The train I had intended to take, Hikari at 1010 from Shinagawa was full.  This is the first time in all of my visit I have ever run into this problem.  I ended up taking the Hikari 469 at 1110 instead.

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This delayed me by one hour, thus I arrived in Osaka at 200pm instead of 100pm as was intended. Not a huge difference.  I just love the Shinkansen, it’s the epitome of efficiency for the Japanese.  3hrs, that’s all it takes to get from the largest city in Japan to the 3rd largest; and not on the outskirts either like you get with an airport, but right in the city center.  See, the Tokkaido Shinkansen doesn’t run all the way to southern portion of the island, most trains stop in Osaka where the Sanyo Shinkansen takes over, so there is always a transfer at Osaka when going this far south.  Knowing thus, I arranged for Mari-chan to meet me for lunch; it was very good to see her again.

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It doesn’t matter to me how strong you think you are, you take a trip like this and you do get lonely.  It really means a lot to me to have friends and people to chat with when I am there, I don’t like the great isolation and loneliness that tends to accompany these trips at all.

I had a great time with Mari at lunch, she is just so cool and nice.  Her English is much improved from last year, which is good cause my Japanese has fallen off, again Smile.  It is just so hard to keep it up when you don’t use it at all back home.  Unfortunately, I missed my connecting train to Hiroshima after parting ways with Mari.  There is nothing worse, in my mind, then making a stupid mistake and then having to try to explain it to someone who doesn’t speak your language.  Thankfully, after three tries it dawned on me: I have a Rail Pass, I can just buy another ticket.  Did that and jumped on the Sakura train bound for Kagoshima, but stopping at Hiroshima.

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Another reason I love Japan; they get mass transit.  Maybe its because Americans are so fond of their cars that most of our mass transit equipment is about 20yrs old where as the Japanese are constantly investing in it and, they are just cleaner as a society then America.  This is what my seat looked like on the train.

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Among the decisions I made in planning for this trip I made sure the hotels I choose where close to my arrival point as possible or were hotels I knew the location of beforehand (Marriott).  With Hiroshima, I picked the new Sheraton (it just opened two months ago I am told), literally right outside Hiroshima station.

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I really lucked out here, this is literally one of the nicest hotels I have ever been to, and I have been to quite a few hotels.  Definitely the most modern of the any hotel I have ever stayed at and with an incredible view of the city.

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Oddly enough, despite the fact that I booked this room through Travelocity, hence why I could afford it, Sheraton was somehow able to use my Starwood frequent stayer account.  Not really a problem except that they decided to use the American Express associated with the Starwood account for co-incidentals and any extra charges (Internet).  Again not a problem until you realize, as I did, the Amex card associated with Starwood belongs to RCM Technologies and no reason I should get them in trouble.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the room has this:

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Basically, its quite interesting how the hotel saves money, no lights in the room will allow themselves to be turned in, unless there is a reason.  That means, I cannot leave the room and leave lights on.  really neat, compliments the room quite nicely.

I have to say at this point, I am starting to really understand why using a travel agent is so critical.  Don’t get me wrong, I love what I have done and all the help I am getting but, if not for a couple solid decisions, the tune of this trip could be very different.  Today was difficult, Ill say it, if I had taken the suitcase rather then the hiking pack, I don’t think I would’ve gotten out of Shinagawa, let alone all the way to Hiroshima.

Its also incredibly lonely.  I am so thankful that I have friends like Mari and Mami to hang out with me because it really sucks doing all of this traveling alone.  You cant even enjoy a ribbing when you cant set the alarm clock in your room cause you cant read the button labels.

Anyway, as I sign off for the night, I leave with the view of Hiroshima from my hotel room, looks like the local baseball team is still in action.

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By the way, it has been so hot here.  Was over a 100 in Osaka, God only knows how warm it is in Hiroshima, its farther south.  Also, it seems we had a typhoon just miss hitting the island directly, but that we did feel the effects of, so that explained the intense and sporadic rain today.

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