Two Brothers & The Typhoon
Day 1: Getting My Bearings
My brother joined the marines and has been stationed in Iwakuni Prefecture, which is about a forty five minute metro ride from Hiroshima. I have been waiting to visit him because the people who do know us can attest to our similarities in looks, speech, and personality. I do enjoy basically having a twin. Some people would prefer to be different from their sibling so that they could stand out while growing up, but I wish we were closer in age so that we could hang out more. I found out that he would have some free time during a weekend in October so I used it as a way to meet up and hang out in Japan. Life sometimes throws you random things and it all depends on how deal with it.
I'm fairly mellow in personality even when the weather isn't the best. This time was a challenge. Despite being excited about seeing my brother Dewan and having it be around the same time as Diwali, a typhoon was predicted to travel across Southeast Asia was concerning. Reports said that heavy winds and rain would make it difficult for locals to even be out. After a friend linked me to a weather report, I found out that Hiroshima would only be getting three to five inches of rain. I wasn’t able to do all the sightseeing I could because of the weather and marine protocol procedures, but I definitely learned more coming out for the future. Sunshine over rain is preferred when on vacation, but I decided that it wouldn’t let me stop me from enjoying the weekend.
I really like visiting Japan because many people are quite fashionable and have their own unique style. Having been to Tokyo, I witnessed how fashionable people could be, but what separates Hiroshima from Tokyo in terms of fashion is that they dress well, but practice less risqué fashion. In Tokyo the residents are more fashion forward without worrying about the risk of wearing something out of place. In Hiroshima, many residents dress depending on their age, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Parents will dress their toddlers and set them up for life so they go on and start matching on their own. Students done the school uniforms of course and young professionals will wear suits, dresses, or uniforms with key accessories to accentuate their outfit to incorporate their own style, whether it be fancy a watch, sunglasses, necklaces, coats, hats, shoes or a belt. This weekend was special because the hometown baseball team the Hiroshima Carps were contending for a place at the Japan Series of baseball. All of the citizens young and old were wearing Carp paraphernalia. Even the taxi driver's donned the red uniform. It was a sight to behold. It was short lived because they got knocked out by the Yokohama Baystars a couple days later.
The first day began with an early flight and also was the first time that I had forgotten my passport and went on the subway for a few stops. Once I realized this, I had to run out of the station and quickly taxi back and forth to my apartment and a close by subway that had an airport rail connection. Always lay out your passport, wallet, and keys, and cellphone next to each other so you can be good to go in the morning! Luckily I left a couple hours early so with enough hustling I was able to make it through security.
After thanking the check-in attendant for helping me so quickly and having be bypass the line because the check in kiosk wasn’t recognizing my passport or booking ID, I ran to my gate and barely made the boarding. I flew with Air Seoul and it was very pleasant. I asked the attendant in Korean if she had a pen on that I could borrow. She had a one on hand so I could actually complete the customs forms quickly without wasting time doing it at the customs and security check upon arrival. That check-in lady hooked me up with an isle seat in row four although I was running late. Being nice, smiling, apologizing and making sure to say please and thank you goes a long way even when the day isn’t going your way.
I touched down in Hiroshima and the weather immediately changed. It went from being pleasant fall weather in Seoul to constant rain without any indication of stopping. I took a bus from the airport to take me to Hiroshima Station and I met an expat by the name of Chad and we talked about travel, work, family, and life. It was refreshing to do that because normally in South Korea everyone keeps to themselves, even if they are nice people. He was staying in Hiroshima for a day because he had three days of work to take care of in Osaka or another part of Japan for the rest of his trip. I said bye and we parted ways. He was a good dude.
I took the Sanyo metro line to Iwakuni and had some issues because the train would end part of the way toward Iwakuni and then it would change directions and head straight back to Hiroshima. This happened to me twice throughout the trip, but now I got the hang of it. I highly recommend taking the subway if possible if you are going further than 2 kilometers because the taxi meters start going up really high quite fast. Something I did do correctly was enrolling in a roaming plan with data before coming so that I wouldn’t have to ruff it like we did when we were younger and break out a huge tourist, subway, or city map and look like I didn’t know what I was doing. I arrived around 3pm and my brother was able to meet me shortly thereafter.
In the Marine Corps Base at Iwakuni they have a visitor protocol where Corporal Singh had to sign me in and accompany me from the time I arrived to the time I had to leave. Since we were short on time and he had duty later on in the night, we decided to eat nearby and explore around Iwakuni on foot and with taxis if we needed to. Dewan and I decided to get some sushi. It was at a decent priced and I would have taken some pictures of it, but I decided to do a time-lapse of us eating instead. Priorities and first world problems, right? Though I was completely full, I decided to check out a Japanese pastry shop to see what they had to offer. Isn’t it interesting how in some situations if you are given options to try something new, you end up picking what you are familiar with because its constant and you are guaranteed to feel good about it? That’s how I am with dessert. We ended up getting different flavors and on the positive side, it was Dewan’s first time trying them. I’d call that a win win.
The first day was spent running around the subway and airport to make my flight and lots of walking around Iwakuni and the MCCS. I left around 9pm and once I got back to my hotel, I looked up ramen places that were good in Hiroshima. I found one that was written with Japanese characters, but it had over 80 reviews and the pictures looked good. I decided that I was worth it an selected over 4.5 star rated restaurants in the search filters. You have to treat yourself when you go on vacation alone. I wasn’t disappointed. Just look at my face. Slow cooked chicken broth soup and ramen was perfect for a cold and rainy day. They had some interesting sides so I ordered the salmon flaked rice and it was just the right amount of food with a draft of Kirin Ichiban. I was eating and exploring pretty late because the night life was still poppin’ until the early hours of the morning.
Day 2: Back At It Again!
I was so tired that I slept for a full eight hours when I got back. So much for waking up early. Later after getting ready I took a taxi to Hiroshima Station and then took the Sanyo Line to Iwakuni. I picked up a couple umbrellas so that the rain wouldn’t be as bad while we were walking around. Once again I had to get signed in at the front and at the barracks. We took a taxi to Iwakuni and then took the Sanyo line back to Hiroshima. Pretty monotonous. Next time I think I will stay at the hotel on the base to make it easier, or maybe Dewan will get promoted and be allowed special access of leave or civilian sponsor privileges. Despite that we still did what we do best and we went out to eat.
Dewan used his phone to look up some good sushi restaurants in the area and we found one. The chefs were really nice and served us food, while giving recommendations for daily specials and what to order. Though their English was limited, they did their best to communicate. It did help that my brother has a basic grasp of Japanese so it was no trouble at all. They even offered an English menu. I highly recommend the restaurant to anyone who is visiting the area.
Remember what I said about getting complacent with eating? We looked up and found another macaroon shop. They had many other flavors and it was totally worth it. After having spent most of the day traveling back and forth and eating, the day was pretty much over, so we decided to just go back to the base to hang out, relax, and say goodbye.
I can always sight see another time. I am fortunate, since I live so close. I didn’t get to do much site seeing, but that’s ok. My two main goals were to visit my brother and to eat. I’m happy with that, and I know what I am going to do next time I come to Hiroshima.