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The older of my grown children (A) and I had a 2-week tour in Japan recently. The trip functioned as a deserved break from the grueling professional training A had undergone for the last 8 years after graduating from college. However, for me, more than anything else it was a great opportunity to get reconnected with A, whose almost 80 hours a week work schedule made it difficult for us to have off time together. For instance, I was not really surprised to hear that the parents of one of the trainees for one of the most demanding professions said at the completion celebration ceremony that they had not seen their child for 3 years. So, our trip together was on the whole very satisfying. (Unfortunately, my husband and our younger grown child as well as A’s future spouse were unable to join us due to their respective job obligations; yet I am glad that I had free time to be able to travel together with A now that I am retired.)

Miyajima and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The first place we visited after finishing some business in Tokyo was Hiroshima City and Miyajima.

We visited Miyajima first to catch the high-tide period to appreciate the picturesque red Torii fully submerged in the water. The ferry that took us from Miyajima-guchi to Miyajima was packed. But, due to the frequency of the ferries nobody was flustered and everybody seemed to enjoy a fairly short boat ride. Miyajima was, as usual, packed with tourists. When we arrived at the entrance to the Itsukushima Shrine, which retains the typical architectural structure of the Heian period (8th to 12th century), we were told that the general public outside “kendama group” was to enter the shrine from the other side of the two waiting lines. “Kendama (a traditional Japanese ball-and-stick toy) group”? We were quite intrigued by this, and did a short research to find the “Kendama” World Cup Championship would be held in Hatsukaichi, which is near Miyajima-guchi, over the weekend. (The World Cup has been held in Hatsukaichi, official birth place of “kendama,” for the last 3 years.) This fact made me realize that any skill could be ranked in the form of competition.

Miyajima was as always a fun place to visit though there were much fewer free-roaming deer walking around in Miyajima (a store manager told me that they would not feed deer unnecessarily to prevent deer overpopulation).

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima Peace Park, like Miyajima, was packed with tourists (definitely more crowded than I remember). The hotels in Hiroshima seemed fully booked and the museum floors were packed with teeming crowd (it was as crowded as the special exhibits at Metropolitan Museum of Art in summer time). However, the exhibits at the Peace Memorial Museum were as emotionally wrenching in their understated, matter-of-fact manner, as other times when I visited. In fact, I was surprised to realize that tears came out of my eyes about mid-way in the exhibit. I somehow attributed this overpopulation in the museum to the recent visit of this place by President Obama, thinking of the power of publicity.

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