I ate tongue in Japan

So these past 3 weeks have been CRAZY so far and I haven’t had the chance to keep you all updated with what’s going on. This is mostly because I’m lazy and don’t feel like typing an essay when I get back from my trips…even though that would probably be the best time to do it!

Jess and Zack decided to come visit us here in China! But only visiting us would be rather boring, so they were travelling all around Asia. Ryan and I met up with them, as well as Jim and Sandra in Hiroshima, Japan for their first weekend here. Because we were working earlier that day, our flight ended up arriving rather late in Japan (flights in Asia often seem to be delayed). Not to mention the 1 hr drive to our hotel, which cost somewhere around $150!!…we were shocked. Considering that everything in China is so cheap, especially transportation, we felt baffled when we realized how much we actually paid. Japan isn’t cheap!

Anyways, we were happy to see that Jim, Sandra, Jess and Zack were all waiting for us outside! We just felt really bad for them considering how much travelling they went through, in addition to the time change. They were looking pretty sleepy.

We made it to our room and decided to meet up the next morning at breakfast to make a plan of attack for the weekend. I think the best thing to do is to set a schedule to adjust to the time change as quickly as possible, BUT I’m pretty sure I would rather sleep in if I were them.

At breakfast we decided that we were going to catch a ferry to an island, explore it for a bit, and then head back to our hotel and proceed to dinner. Sounds like a nice, casual day right? Well it didn’t end up being that way…I remember really enjoying my shower at the end of the day.

Ryan and I decided to do a quick workout at the gym before our trip to Miyajima Island, which felt great to do! But we had to hurry to meet up with everyone to walk to the ferry, which meant that the post workout shower did little to cool us down before going outside in the heat. One thing we’ve learned about being in China is that no one really cares if you sweat or how much you sweat… it’s HOT and it’s HUMID, and you will sweat! So luckily we weren’t too self conscious about our appearance, although maybe a bit unusual for the cooler temperatures in Japan.

Once we made it onto our ferry, it was about a 45 minute ride to the island, where we noticed just about everyone sleeping along the way. We’re not too positive what it is exactly, but it seems as though the Chinese and Japanese are really good at sleeping during public transportation. Seriously…it’s really impressive. Once the car gets going, they’re out! At home I feel like people would really take note of this behaviour, but in Asia it seems like a normal thing to do. Not that I can really confirm this with everyone, but our friends in Japan mentioned that  Japanese people have a tough time sleeping at night time, which causes them to be rather sleepy during the day. It makes for some good entertainment when you notice some funny sleeping positions people are in!

Getting off the ferry onto the island, we all notice our first deer. We are laughing in shock, since this deer is totally comfortable around crowds of people, and even human contact! We finally realized that all he really wanted was food. But since I’m the lover of all animals, I go up to the little Bambi to see if he wants to be my friend. Unfortunately, he stuck to his guns with his wanting of food, and since I had none, he wasn’t really interested in me. Talk about high standards right? Who needs ’em!

As we kept walking along we notice another deer, and then another….and actually a whole bunch of them!! Well, rather a herd I guess.

Some were hanging out in the shade,

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Little deer wants in for food!

some in front of stores and restaurants, and some even nudging their little noses into women’s large purses, which had hidden snacks for their children. They definitely brought smiles to people faces with how fearless and friendly they were, but I could see how maybe living with them all the time might get annoying. They were quite pushy!! One woman had to stand on a bench so that she could eat her corn on-the-cob in peace. I was surprised that none of the deer looked overweight, considering that it is a tourist area and there is access to lots of food (and no control over what tourists feed the deer). Being the animal biology major that I am, I just hoped no one was feeding them anything they shouldn’t eat!

Proceeding further down the island, (and taking selfies with deer along the way), we notice the beautiful scenery that this island offers us.

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This torii gate offered a unique look; something I have yet to see like this before.

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High tide: start of the day
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Low tide: end of the day

 

There was a shrine available to go into, but we were all not too interested in going in. I feel like once you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all. In Japan, they’re characterized by the colour orange. You need to wash your hands and mouth before you enter (there is a technique to doing this), and you do some bowing and clapping and praying and wishing; maybe not all in that order…but something like that. I’m not a very religious person, so while it was interesting to go through these motions during our first time here in June, I wasn’t super interested in doing it again.

So we make it to the start of our challenge for the day, which is to climb up Mount Miyajima. This is the part I was talking about with how it turned out to be a less casual day than we thought. Sure, we’ll climb up the mountain no problem! And we all wanted to, but we didn’t realize that it was going to be quite the trek it turned into. Some of us weren’t wearing the right shoes…(me), but luckily the ones I had on were pretty comfy. We notice along the way, a wide variety of people; some in serious hiking gear, including boots, hat, gloves, tights, poles, etc. I would have thought they were ready for Mount Everest! On the other spectrum, there’s the women who like to hike mountains in heels and dresses…yes, this is a common thing in Asia. Why you ask? I really cannot say, other than to have a good lookin’ photo of you climbing a mountain! I remember the last time I was at the Great Wall of China, I saw men in suits, as well as the women in heels and dresses. Maybe they just have to look good no matter what they’re doing. But I will refuse to climb a mountain in heels that’s for sure! THEN we notice this tank of a women coming back down from the mountain with a broken leg, crutches and everything (so we knew the mountain did not cause her injury). We were all seriously impressed, and if there were any temptations to complain about our current situation, it quickly diminished.

This one couple stuck out more so than the others, for their display of affection (I could OIPD7243have guessed they were French, but we also heard them speaking French). It was one of those things you didn’t want to look at because…ew, but also you wanted to look because you were confused on how it worked. The woman’s back was arched way more than looked comfortable, causing her butt to protrude further out than necessary. Some people have a natural arch, but this looked forced! In the mean time, her boyfriend/husband/lover’s arm was around her waist, during their moments of gazing into each others eyes and smooching. But the whole time her hands were down at her sides…which is also what made the interaction look so strange. Why aren’t you touching him if this is such a romantic moment?! Because Ryan has learned to embrace his inner Chinese, he took a picture of this lovely interaction between this loving couple. She doesn’t look like she’s trying quite as hard in the picture, but this was several minutes after our first spotting of this odd mating ritual…so I think they were finishing up.

Anyways…we all made it to the top of the mountain, drenched in sweat, but happy we made it to enjoy the beautiful views! Although I haven’t hiked too many mountains, I realized after hiking up Mt. Miyajima that I really LOVE doing this sort of stuff. It’s something that involves every part of you, both mentally and physically, and it left me feeling refreshed and accomplished.

I mean check out these views!!

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We rested at the top for a bit, as seen here…

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…and we went back on down! We took the gondola ride back to enjoy the views from a different angle (and to give ourselves a bit of a break!).

We were all starving by the time we reached the bottom, especially since we didn’t have lunch before we left. But here comes the fun food-testing of the day! There was a street vendor that was cooking different meats on sticks, like shish kabobs; and we had our eyes on beef tongue. I’m pretty glad Ryan’s as adventurous as I am when it comes to trying different foods, otherwise I think his family might think I were crazy. Lately though, Sandra has been quite adventuresome when it comes to tying odd things! Ever since I got her to try fried squid on a stick in Suzhou, she’s up for anything. So when we got our beef tongue, she was willing to see how it tasted. I found it to be delicious! I think maybe it was the combination of me being hungry and the spices that they used on it, but it was SO good! It wasn’t tough and chewy at all, like I expected it to be. I would have gotten more if I had any change on me.

The rest of the afternoon we grabbed a late, late lunch, and spent our time at the beach enjoying the sunset. I felt like my feet hadn’t enjoyed the sand in forever, so I really enjoyed these moments; including being able to watch a sunset. What made it cuter was seeing this little lady strolling around:

And as usual, the company was great

 

To make our beach time that much more enjoyable, we grabbed beer from a near-by vending machine…yes you heard that right. A vending machine. That was the first time (I think) that I had noticed vending machine with real, cold beer in it.

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This felt like such a fantastic day that I would definitely go back and do it again. I think what made so great was that none of it was really expected or planned. We knew we wanted to go to this island, but we had no idea what it really had to offer. We didn’t expect this hike, but it was great to do it! And we had actually planned to take the ferry back earlier, but stayed later and watched the sunset.

Such an amazing day.

The next day, our last day in Hiroshima; Ryan and I would be going back to Wuxi, and the rest of the group would be heading to Tokyo and Mt. Fuji for a fun 9.5hr hike (at least they started their training on Mt. Miyajima). We spent this day getting a tour of Hiroshima and learned about all the history behind the beautiful city. I remember learning about the bombing of Hiroshima in high school, but physically being there was different. To see ground zero, and learning about how people were affected at the time, as well as years later, it really made me feel something (I can’t really describe it).

 

We could tell Japan never wanted to go through this ever again, and nor do they wish it on anyone else. School girls were petitioning to stop the use of ALL nuclear bombs, and so we all signed the petition. It was really cool to be part of something like that.

The Japanese are truly, very nice people, and it really showed here in Hiroshima.

I really enjoyed spending time in Japan with everyone!

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We found this little one this way: obsessed with getting food out the crack so much, didn’t even notice the hat!!
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