Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Another Outing

One great thing about going on outings with a lot of the ship’s company is that everyone takes pictures. We a network drive where we can share things with each other. So, a couple days after an outing, you can get on the drive and take everyone’s best pictures. It’s great because not everyone gets great pictures of everything, but when we share, we all win! Sorry, I know that’s cheesy, but I’m leaving it that way.

This is the central sculpture of the Peace Park. He’s 10 meters high, which I think is like 33 feet. Everything about him is symbolic, and I have a picture of the sign describing all the symbolism, but I don’t feel like typing it all out right now or finding that picture to put on here. You can google it.

This is me and my beautiful roomie by the peace fountain. The water shoots out in the shape of a dove, but you have to be above it to tell.

You’ve probably heard of origami, and probably made something in origami at some time or another. The most classic, traditional origami figure in Japan is the crane. All the colorful streamers in this picture are made from stringing together hundreds of origami cranes. They are a symbol for peace. There are many symbols for peace in Japan.

Most parts of the A-bomb Museum, we weren’t allowed to take pictures, but there was a row of paintings in the hallway that we were allowed to take pictures of. Here is one. I wanted to buy some postcards of the museum. I thought I could get a multipack that had pictures of the museum itself, some different exhibits, maybe one of the mushroom cloud. But the postcards were all very gruesome. I’m pretty sure one of them was of this painting. In the end, I just didn’t think I’d want to send people postcards with pictures of people burning alive and things like that, so I didn’t get any. (Just in case it isn’t clear, the white part in the mushroom cloud is just the camera flash, not part of the painting.)

At the martyr shrine, Kris, Cat, and I were so proud to be the first of our group to see the chapel. Most people didn’t even realize it was part of the shrine till they saw us standing where we are in this picture. They all called up to us asking how to get up there. We told them it was a secret and magic. Eventually some of them made it up there, though.

A beautiful rose ice cream cone. It only costs 100 yen, that’s like 80 cents! Totally worth it. Delicious, cheap, and beautiful, what more could you ask for?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I went on an outing yesterday to Nagasaki. When I noticed how close we'd be to it while we're in Fukuoka, I wanted to go, if only to be able to say that I've been somewhere an atomic bomb was dropped, especially since I've been to Los Alamos, where the bomb was developed, and the museum there.
The day started early-meeting on the quayside to load buses at 6:45 am. Nagasaki's only around 60 miles away, or something like that, but it took more than 2 hours to get there. Seems like we stopped every 20 minutes.
First, we went to the Peace Park. It is built on the ruins of a prison, the closest public building to the hypocenter of the bomb. All that remains from the prison are the bottom few inches of the walls. There is one main statue symbolizing the threat of nuclear weapons and the need and efforts for world peace. Many countries have donated statues and sculptures for the park. There is one from St. Paul, MN, a sister city to Nagasaki.
Then we went to the main attraction, the A-bomb Museum. There was a lot about the effects of the bomb-physically what would happen to people. They described effects of the heat, effects of radiation. They had some rubble recovered from the city after the bomb: glass bottles melted together, coins melted together, metal stairways twisted up, clothes stained by blood. The initial flash of the bomb bleached things, and left images where other objects blocked the light. There was one picture of a wall with the shadow of a person and a ladder burned into it by the flash. There was one melted glass bottle that had a human hand bone fused into it. The museum focused a lot on the children (both the survivors and those killed by the bomb). There were pictures of small charred corpses. There was also one part that focused on steps taken worldwide to prevent nuclear warfare in the future. Nowhere in the entire museum did they mention any reason for the bombing. It was just "this is what happened." There was no why. It could give someone the impression that the maniacal Americans just dropped the bomb to kill children (and monks, I remember something about monks). One wall had a timeline of events leading up to the bombing. They mention dates that it was decided to develop it and the allies deciding to use it. But even there it doesn't mention that anything was done by Japan to provoke this. It also doesn't say, "We didn't do anything that would make them want to bomb us." But that's to be expected. I expected it at least. They can't get away with saying that it was done for no reason, but they prefer to forget the bad guys of that period in their past. We learned that a lot of countries don't require grade school kids to study history. I tend to not retain most things I've learned in history class, but even I know something about what happened back then and why, and many people of other nationalities that went with us to the museum yesterday don't.
After that, we went to a shrine built in memory of 26 Christians who were martyred at some point in time. Cat, Kris, and I spent most of the time in the chapel at the shrine. It was so peaceful. 6 of them were European missionaries and 20 were Japanese Christians. They were crucified in 1597. There is a museum there, but we didn't go into it because we spent all our time in the chapel.
We also went to a church-the oldest in Japan. But you have to pay to get in and we didn't want to, so we shopped for souvenirs, all of which were too expensive to buy, and went into another church with beautiful stained glass (which was free since it was actually a church and not a tourist attraction). A couple from Georgetown, TX, had signed the guest book! It was exciting for me. I got to say, "Hey! I used to live there!"
After that we drove up a mountain to a park overlooking the city and then went back to the ship.
I'm very glad to have gone and to have seen the A-bomb Museum and the Peace Park. That was the best. Also, outside the museum was an ice cream vendor. She put the ice cream in the cones using a type of spatula. She added small layers of ice cream at a time, creating a rose out of the ice cream. It was more icy than creamy, a lot like home-made ice cream, but more beautiful.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


While we're here in Taiwan, we're trying to go on as many outings as possible. One of the most awesome outings I went on was a great adventure, but so spontaneous that I didn't have my camera with me to document it. We explored and went places that we weren't sure if we were allowed to go. We got as close to the statue of liberty as we could. It sits atop a building that looks as if it will fall apart at any moment. We also went up in the tallest building in Keelung, which is only 33 floors high, and we only got to the 32nd. The tallest building in the world is in Taipei, which is about 45 minutes away. It's the Taipei 101, 101 floors. I haven't been, but I know the viewing level is around the 85th floor, though there are rumors that you can go to the 92nd. They never let you to the real top of these kind of buildings, I learned that in Chicago.
And now for the adventures I did document. All the info girls went out for dinner Sunday night to celebrate Kaylee because it was her last day with us. Caz had been to a restaurant earlier and decided we could all go there since it was close and reasonably priced. She said that the sign said "Family Steakhouse" on it, and it was the only sign in that area with English writing so it stood out. We couldn't find it. We asked people if they knew where it was and they had no idea what we were talking about. We finally did get to it, though. Turns out, the sign actually says "Familp Steakhouse." Maybe that's what the confusion was...

But my favorite part of the Familp Steakhouse was not the fact that they use a p instead of a y. It was the open/closed sign. The open side:
The closed side:
At least, I assume it was something like an open/closed sign. It was in the front window. We think it's a good business plan. Either you're running the business or you're drinking tea. What else is there in life that's worth doing? ;)
The next day, I went out again, in search of an adventure. There is a hill nearby with temples on top, which we can see from the ship. So, we went out to find out. We did find it, and a Martyr's Shrine. The Martyr's Shrine had lots of dragons on top of it, which are way cool! I love these dragons!
To get to these temples, you have to be very dedicated. There are tons of stairs. So after a brief rest at the shrine to recover, we continued up the stairs to the temple. It is beautiful!