Today I have decided to take up the challenge of packing lightly, with my laptop of course. For this trip I’m just taking only just what I’m going to wear the entire trip. If it works out then I’ll take less and less and just wash what I need. I eventually just want to get down to carrying around a single sock.

Today’s train ride to Hiroshima was a nice, long one so finally I got a chance to sit down for once and got to get caught up in my journal. Our first destination in Hiroshima was Miyajima island a beautifully rugged island with a temple on in. The temple has a very famous gate on it called the O-Torii gate, something that you probably have seen before. When we arrived, the tide was in and the base of the gate was covered. However, by the end of the day the tide had rolled out and we were able to walk right up to the gate. Tradition has it, that if you can throw a stone onto each level of the gate, your wish will come true. Several members of the group tried to do it but no one could get above the second. I almost got hit in the head from everyone trying to make their wish come true however.

We took a trail up into the hills to a series of waterfalls that were quite lovely. I took a lot of pretty good pictures of the falls. Most of us took off our shoes and waded up the river. I tried to stay out of the ensuing water fight. In light of this, I’d like to take this opportunity to give everyone fair warning about getting me into a water fight when I’m carrying around my electronic gear. Don’t. You have been warned.

Our Japanese language lesson of the day was the word shimahebi or snake. Rebecca our resident animal lover saw a long snake slithering through a patch of bushes. Between the two of us we got several nice pictures of it. When pointed the snake out to a couple of nearby Japanese people, everybody seemed pretty nonchalant about it. I guess that there are no poisonous snakes on the island. The birds nesting in the area were not happy about their reptile neighbor and were chirping and squawking at it. I think the snake was not happy with us as well since we were really cramping his hunting style.

We returned at the end of the day to watch the sun go down behind O-torii and again got a lot of good pictures. I think that I shot the more pictures today than any other day.

After watching the sun go down, we checked into a hotel and each one of us had our our own room, a welcome change of pace. After cleaning up a bit, it was about 9:30 PM, our first chance to find some dinner. A lot of the local shops had either closed or we simply didn’t understand what they were offering. A few of us decided to head to a known quantity in dining, McDonald’s. I ordered a double cheeseburger meal which I though was lavish but my companions ate a lot more than me, even Alisa, a tiny slip of a girl compared to me. Tim ate 4 hamburgers by himself, a very impressive feat.

At McDonald’s, there were some high school Japanese girls lurking in our conversation. Unfortunately for them, Alisa speaks Japanese. She would translate tidbits of information from their conversation for our amusement. It was nothing too mean but they were talking about us. At the end of our dinner, Tim asked one of the girls in English where we can find karaoke. They of course they couldn’t answer. Then Alisa asked them in Japanese where it was. You should have seen the look of horror in their faces, it was priceless.

It was after 10 PM and getting very late but we still wanted to do something fun like karaoke. I was pretty run down at this time and had to find some coffee to rejuvenate me. I stopped in a few Japanese coffee houses but they were all closing down but there was a Starbucks. I have had Starbucks 3 or 4 times since I’ve been here, more than I think I have ever been to in America.

At this late point, we couldn’t find any karaoke so we stopped in one of the many arcades. I played a weird typing game. It looked like Resident Evil, but instead of aiming a gun at the zombies, words would pop up and if you typed it in correctly, it would kill the monster. I didn’t do so well even though I’m a pretty extensive vi user. The hit of the night was air hockey though. We played boys against girls and it was not a good day for boys. Tim and I did a lot of scoring, unfortunately, for everyone of our points we knocked in, it seem like we knocked one of the pucks into our own lock. We lost every single game. Then the girls took on Nhan and Alisa and the girls got killed. We did have a lot of fun because there was a lot of squealing while the game was being played. I might have squealed a few times myself actually.

After a short stroll through Hiroshima Peace Park we returned to our very own rooms at the hotel. I did a little sink laundry, hung up my clothes and made it to bed around 1AM

Tomorrow, Hiroshima Peace Park in the daytime and Himeji Castle.