Experiences in Kyushu

 

View from the summit of Mt. Misen, Miyajima.

View from the summit of Mt. Misen, Miyajima.

After returning to Kyoto for a couple of days after Korea, my parents arrived! After showing them the sights of Kyoto, we travelled around the southern part of Japan, and visited Miyajima, Hiroshima and Mount Aso. This trip consisted of many experiences which certainly left a deep impression on me. We were woken up by a 6.3 earthquake, visited Hiroshima Peace Park and climbed Asosan, an active volcano.

Whilst staying at Miyajima, a sacred island just off Kyushu, in the south of Japan, my parents and I experienced an earthquake. I’ve slept through slight earthquakes before, but this one was certainly noticeable! The paper screens in the room were shaking and the light was swinging from the ceiling. Strangely perhaps, the experience was quite exciting. Maybe we should have dived for cover, but instead, we just enjoyed the show. The power of nature really is astonishing.

"Floating" torii gate at Miyajima.

“Floating” torii gate at Miyajima.

The following day, we took the ferry from Miyajima to the mainland, and visited Hiroshima. We took the tram to the Hiroshima Peace Park, which stopped adjacent to the Atomic Bomb Dome. This is a building which remained standing, skeletally, after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. It is conserved as a memorial, and this seems to be the most appropriate way to show the magnitude of the horrors which took place there.

Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima.

Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima.

The Peace Memorial Park felt like an optimistic place. It seemed to promote the message of hope for peace in the future, rather than dwelling on the atrocities of the past.

Collections of origami cranes, a symbol of peace, at the Children's Peace Monument, Hiroshima.

Collections of origami cranes, a symbol of peace, at the Children’s Peace Monument, Hiroshima.

From this part of Kyushu we travelled to Asosan, an active volcano. This rural area was beautiful, tranquil, and very relaxed. We chose the perfect day to go up the volcano, with clear skies and bright sunshine. The immensity of the volcano was astounding. I thought that there would be a little steam drifting out from the volcano. Instead, there was a constant outpouring, complete with rumblings from its depths. It was a fantastic sight and I’m thrilled to have experienced such a powerful natural phenomena.

Aso-san volcano pouring out gases and steam.

Aso-san volcano pouring out gases and steam.

Experiencing these events brought the brevity of life to the forefront of my mind. Making the most of our time is so incredibly important. Coming to Japan was a wonderful decision, and I can’t even explain how happy I am to have been able to utilise this opportunity. I’m halfway through my year abroad and it’s better than I could have ever imagined. When an opportunity arises, take it – you’ll only regret it if you don’t.

 

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