Nov. 19, 2007
Hiroshima, Japan - Stanford Women's Lacrosse is currently in Japan for a 9-day international tour. Here is Day 1 from their adventure in the rising sun:
Plane, train, bus, ferry, bus, train -- we left the states less than 48 hours ago, and it's already been a whirlwind of a trip! We got to our hotel last night, a wee bit tired and hungry, but so excited to finally be in Japan. We ate our first Japanese meal (an adventure in itself for a lot of us!), and then went up to our rooms to finally get some sleep. The rooms are so different than in any hotel back home! Everything is so much smaller the economy of space is simply amazing; the beds are shorter, the ceilings are lower -- and the technology of the bathrooms have pretty much been a source of constant entertainment and curiosity since we got here.
Despite all the excitement, we got to bed pretty early; We left our hotel at 6am this morning to get to Hiroshima. We took a train...and then we took a bullet train...and then finally a streetcar before we got there, nearly five hours later. We even got to sneak a quick glimpse of the snow capped Mt. Fuji.
Hiroshima was..."intense," as many of us described it, but it was perhaps put best by Daphne, who called the entire experience "sobering." It's difficult to adequately express how we felt visiting the site, which is all at once a beautiful city, Peace Park, and memorial. The Hiroshima museum and "A-Bomb Dome" ruin were haunting...images of burn victims in the museum exhibits actually invoked waves of nausea. We were all very quiet and thoughtful after the museum visit, which came at the end of our tour of the Peace Park. We talked seriously about it, reflecting on how we felt and what it had meant to us, sharing our opinions and emotions...it was an amazing learning and bonding experience for all of us.
The Peace Park itself was beautiful -- a shocking contrast to the ruins from which it was born. In the middle of the park, at the end of a long reflecting pool, is a peace flame: citizens of Hiroshima have promised to keep the flame burning until all nuclear weapons have been destroyed -- an inspiring form of peaceful protest. Tourists and children from local schools converged to commemorate the bombing of Hiroshima and to try to learn from history -- and each other. We met a number of sixth graders from a local school who wanted to practice their English; They were so cute and we were all more than happy to help out! They asked us some pretty basic questions (our names, where we were from -- when I said "New York," their faces lit up with recognition), and we struggled with the language barrier a little bit (their English was limited, but considerably better than our Japanese). They had an assignment to do for school, and we tried to help them, signing our names and putting a sticker on a map to indicate where we are from. They gave us gifts (an origami crane with instructions on how to make our own) and took pictures. It was very, very cute in the way we could kind of acknowledge how culturally different we are and laugh our way through our language blunders without any embarrassment.
After Hiroshima, we hopped back on the streetcar...and then the train...and then finally a ferry to Miyajima, a beautiful island famous for an elaborate shrine (we all recognized it from an America's Next Top Model episode) and, as we discovered, the wild deer that roam the city streets, completely unafraid of humans. The shrine was incredible, with architecture unlike anything in the U.S., but I think we all couldn't get over the fact that we could actually pet the deer. It was really funny at first: they took to following some of us, waiting expectantly for a bite of our snacks.
Miyajima was very beautiful, with small streets and shops sort of nestled into the side of the hilly terrain. We left as the sun was setting, and the view was gorgeous...but most of our cameras had long ago run out of batteries or memory card space or both.
It's been a jam-packed first day: we've had some very different foods (the squid and edamame roll was definitely unique), learned new words, pet wild deer, been moved to tears, and even tested all of Japan's forms of public transportation -- and it's only the first day! We can't wait to see what the rest of the week holds!
Stay tuned to www.gostanford.com for lots more entries and lots of photos!