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A beautiful day in Hiroshima

We could not have asked for a nicer day.

Seventy degrees, sunny, warm, with a fresh breeze coming in off the Seto Inland Sea--it was sunglasses weather! Nora and I started the day with a walk through my old neighborhood, including the Hondori shopping area.

We followed the Google map back to the school where I used to teach, but it seems to have moved buildings, as the location it's in now is completely unfamiliar to me. I do think I found the building where it used to be, right above a 7-11 (which used to be a "Poplar"), but it's now a gyoza restaurant.

Much of Hiroshima is unfamiliar to me now, almost 30 years on. There has been so much new building in the time that's passed. The only place that seemed vaguely familiar was the ¥100 store we visited in Hondori; I'm almost certain it's the same one where I used buy most of my food and other household supplies.

Even tourist places, like Hiroshima Castle and Peace Park, are totally different than the way I remember them. It's very weird the way memory works.

In other news, we played pachinko today and I somehow managed to win ¥1500. The way it works with pachinko is that you trade in the balls you win for prizes (like cookies or cigarettes) and then you take those cookies or cigarettes to a little back alley window where you trade them for cash. The very nice attendant showed us where little back-alley window was, and we collected our completely unearned riches. (Seriously, I was just randomly mashing buttons the whole time.)

Additionally, we figured out how to use the local bike rental service, and it's *great.* I was a little nervous about biking in Japan (I have a hard enough time figuring out what side of the street to walk on) but we really enjoyed whizzing about the town. When we're settled in Osaka we'll have to see about finding a bike we can use; it really makes shopping and getting around much easier.

Tomorrow we will probably take bikes up to Hijiyama Park (which I remember being really beautiful) and then later in the week we'll take a ferry to Itskushima to see Miyajima Shrine.

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