Hiroshima and the atomic bomb

It’s been a while since you heard from us. Since our bike trip, we enjoyed Hiroshima for a few days, and are now at our last destination, Tokyo.

Hiroshima was mainly about kicking back (well-deserved after 560 km by bicyle) and, of course, the Atomic Bomb installations. Below you can read my impressions.

Maha added two essays to her pages: Hiroshima things besides the A-Bomb (like… the world’s largest rice paddle), and a page of random notes with plenty of pictures.

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561 bicycle-kilometers later

On September 10, Maha and I left Kyoto on our bicycles, with Hiroshima as the final destination. We took our time, enjoyed the ride and smelled the roses, and arrived safely on September 25 at our destination.

The ride was full of surprises. For one, we were cut off from civilisation – no Internet cafes on the way! Also, initially we were stunned by how urban the ride was. However, once we left Japan’s main island, we were surprised how rural (and at times stunningly beautiful) the ride was.

Maha describes the ride in detail on her pages, including the daily milage and a map showing our route – don’t miss that! I won’t describe the riding at all, but give an impression of the land we rode through. Enjoy the reading!

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Monestary Life

Our next stop was supposed to be a one-week stay at the Kyoto Kokusai Zendo, a Zen monestary. Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned – I got sick and Maha realized very quickly that the spiritual approach in this monestary didn’t work for her. So we both left early, albeit for different reasons.

Maha wrote her impressions on the monestary in her blog, mine are below. She also added a few notes about our first two days of bicycle riding – we rode over 100 km so far.

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First pictures!!!

Share the first batch of pictures with us: Turkey: http://jastram.no-ip.org/gallery2/main.php/v/Travel/turkey2005/ Japan: http://jastram.no-ip.org/gallery2/main.php/v/Travel/Japan-2005/

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Bathing Monkeys and Chanting Monks

Where next? We’d have our Meditation Retreat early September near Kyoto, and wanted to catch a day of the World Exposition in Aichi on the way down there. Other than that, we were free as birds and decided to take a break in Nagano, without knowing much about it. It turned out to be a really plesant stay in the nicest Ryokan so far, and we visited the famous bathing monkeys from Yudanaka.

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Karaoke in Tokyo

Istanbul to Tokyo, arriving August 16th, 2005 – This is my second trip to Japan, for Maha it’s the first trip. But then again, Tokyo is hardly a culture shock for somebody born and raised in San Francisco who loves New York City. So Tokyo turned out as a place where we both felt immediately comfortable. This didn’t make the Subway ticket machine easier to use, and exactly as last time, a friendly Japanese came to the rescue to help us buy the correct ticket. And the fact that there was an earthquake just fifteen minutes before our delayed landing didn’t seem to upset anybody either.

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One Night in Istanbul

A stop in Istanbul wasn’t really planned – it happened by accident. Flights to Japan from Germany are expensive, and the cheapest flight had a stop-over in Istanbul. A 24 hour stop-over. So instead of hanging around at the airport, we went on and spent a night in Istanbul.

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