Saturday, July 23, 2005

Off to Hiroshima!

Saying goodby to Flura before we leave
My aunt and rest of my relatives live in Hiroshima, and so we used our JR rail pass to get there. Two words describe Hiroshima in the summer: HOT and HUMID. Here’s how to simulate today’s temperature. Go to your bathroom and turn on the shower full blast at hot temperature. Let the water run for ten minutes, and then turn it off. Now walk inside your bathroom. That’s replicates a Hiroshima summer day– so humid that my glasses steamed up when I stepped out from an air-conditioned car!

My cousin Kazuhiro and his dog "Chocolate"
We got to meet the latest member of my Aunt’s family – Chocolate. My cousin Kurie found out about this dog from a Dog rescue page on the Internet and had her sent over to Hiroshima from Okinawa. Chocolate is so adorable, but somewhat nervous around strangers due to her growing up initially in abusive conditions in the mountains. She has grown used to my Hiroshima family, and loves attention from family members. But she is not used to me yet.
BTW, let me tell you about the gas stations here. The service station attendants politely yell welcomes to you, and when they clean your car windows, they clean the insides, and the outisides with cloths, not rubber squeegies like in the U.S.! Talk about feeling like being in a master-servant relationship. Of course,you do pay about twice as much for gas, so service doesn`t come for free.
Random hand of gas station attendant wiping rear window.
After chatting with my aunt and handing out the omiyage (presents), we then fell asleep while watching sumo on TV. We just could not tolerate the hot and humid weather. Then the thunder started – claps rang so loud that it seemed as if bombs were exploding in the neighborhood. Then a heavy downpour crashed all over, and as suddenly as it started, the downpour stopped. Since the temperatures had cooled off during the evening, we all went to visit the family graves, a ritual I do everytime I visit Hiroshima. It felt good to say “hello” to my deceased grandpa, grandma, and uncle, but I felt quite sad when I saw the condition of some of my other relatives’ graves, which were neglected and starting to become overrun with weeds. So I pulled out a whole handful of weeds from the graves. That is how fast foilage can grow over here.

We finished the evening by eating do it yourself okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) at a place called Tokugawa. It is a family restaurant, but this branch was run in a converted old Japanese building. What great ambiance for a family chain!
Why can’t they make a franchise in Hawaii? The portions are big and reasonable, and it is quite tasty to eat. My portions are on the bottom left.

Do it yourself okonomiyaki at Tokugawa restaurant.

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