How can I describe Japan? Colorful, inviting, wonderful smells, great people, honest history, welcoming to visitors, best food around, I could probably go on but I think you can understand I loved Japan.
We had 4 stops in Japan- 2 full of history and 2 full of new and exciting adventures. History was covered in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. For those that tuned out during history class, these 2 towns were hit by US atomic bombs during WWII. To stand in a hole where a nuclear bomb was dropped was an experience I will never forget. Today memorials circle around the area as a tribute to the different nationalities lost. I was very surprised to see how green the area is. Large trees, green grass, and beautiful flowers in the exact spot so many people lost their lives not long along.
Matt enjoyed a 20 minute ride in Japan’s famous bullet train. He of course took the window seat! It was fun to watch him smile as we whooshed past everyone.
**Important note about the Japanese people. They are committed to removing nuclear weapons from the world. They tell a story of a little girl burnt by the radiation from the bomb, who sat in a hospital bed for many months. It was her belief that if she made enough origami cranes she would be healed. (Cranes carry many symbols in their culture-one is health) Sadly she died from her injuries, but the people have taken her goal and turned it into their campaign to remove the weapons from every country.
Cranes are everywhere, paper, metal, plastic, and Japan continues to makes these in the hope of one day enough will be made to convince leaders to remove these weapons.
I love that story!
Komodo was quick afternoon stop for us. Not much time to see the main island but we did see living dinosaurs! The Komodo dragon lives up to the hype-bad attitude, fast killer, and very creepy to see. Dragons live on a complete protein diet and have been known to take down a deer, or human that gets close enough. Most of their lives are spent alone wondering through the forest where they are almost completely camouflaged with the dirt and broken tree limbs.
The few people that live on the island are outnumbered 10 to 1 in favor of the dragons. Living with dragons is not something I would want to do-they are hard to see, have a very bad attitude, fast, and have killed people before. This was a great spot to visit but I’m glad I don’t live there!
I had the hardest time deciding what to do here. I was invited to scuba dive with some friends (a favorite past time for me) or Matt and I could explore the area. Having never been there (and hearing of a lot of beautiful spots) we choose to explore land. It gave us a chance to get off the boat overnight-sleep in a hotel and explore nonstop!
Even with the extra hours and over night stop gave us, we didn’t have enough time to see everything. What we did see was beautiful. Temples on cliffs overlooking the ocean, gardens so green and lush it is hard to describe. The local people are very welcoming, almost over the top. Our guides were very upset that Matt wanted to hold his own umbrella..they offered to hold it many Many MANY times. :)
Personal side note: the food here was fantastic. I got the impression from the sizes of the plates that dinner is the only time they eat. I have never seen a plate so large-filled with great food-have you seen Willy Wonka? Well like Violet, I was sure someone would need to roll me out of the room.
As for my diving friends, they had a great trip too. The list of animals they saw was large and made me very jealous.