Week One - Homestay, Onomichi and more!

Hi, everyone! I hope you are all doing well! I apologize for a slow posting schedule. My time here in Japan has been fantastic so far. I've spoken more Japanese in one week than I usually do in a month. I have two pages of new words and even some in Hiroshima-ben! Everyone has met tons of new people! I miss being home with my husband and my cats, but I wouldn't trade this time for anything else.

 


On our second day, we were lucky enough to be able to stay with a host family. It was amazing! I stayed with Nozomi, a Hiroshima Shudo University student, and her grandparents in Saijyo, known for its amazing sake. Unfortunately I didn't drink any, but the countryside was so relaxing. Nozomi lives about an hour away from Hiroshima Shudo University by train, so I saw many parts of Japan I was unfamiliar with. Nozomi and her family are absolutely wonderful! Nozomi is possibly the sweetest person I've ever met. Her grandmother (I call her Obaa-chan!) really went to great lengths to make me feel comfortable. Ojii-san took us to a fantastic rotating sushi restaurant and introduced me to new seafood. And their house and garden are beyond words! You can see pictures up above. Those rice fields? Ojii-san owns three of them and worked them himself for many years. I ate the rice he made. It tasted better than any other rice I've ever eaten!

 
On our first day out together, Nozomi took me to see Onomichi. Onomichi was officially founded as a city in the 1800s, but has history stretching as far back as the 1100s. It's most famous feature is Senkouji Temple, a Buddhist temple founded in the 9th century. One of my favorite parts was all the cats! It's famous for being a cat haven, but it also has a multitude of other smaller temples and shrines. And delicious ramen!


The next day we went to explore Hiroshima city itself. Our first stop was Shukkei-en, which was built after Hiroshima Castle was completed around 1620. The emperor himself even stayed there a couple times! Nozomi and I both love gardens, so we took a lot of pictures here. This garden was nearly destroyed when the atomic bomb tore Hiroshima city apart. However a few trees survived and thrive even today. One is this amazing Ginko tree. There was also a shrine along the bank of a river set up to remember a nameless victim of the bomb who's body was found buried there during the rebuilding. Every year they hold a memorial service and people leave offerings as well.









Nozomi and I take on Hiroshima Castle!
After that, we walked over to Hiroshima Castle. The grounds were destroyed by the bomb as well, but some trees, like this holly, survived and still flourish today. The current castle is a reconstruction of the original, which was built in the 1580s by Morii Terumoto. Inside the castle we weren't allowed to take pictures, but they had dioramas that showed how the city was originally structured, as well as original swords and scrolls from the time of the castle's operation. They also had books and documentation of trades, alliances and commerce between different cities.
 This has been my first week! It's been full of adventures, learning and friendship. Next time, we visit Miyajima. I can't wait so share it with you all!

Sarah

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1 comment:

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