April 27, 2008

Hiroshima - Shukkeien Garden

After a good night's sleep at the good old Comfort Hotel Hiroshima (part of the Comfort Inn chain), we arose to a Continental Breakfast. We focused on the Japanese breakfast items like inari and onigiri, while all the Japanese guests loaded up on the American breakfast items like cereal and pastries. (Western breakfast is way better, but we wanted a change of pace!) These types of hotels are totally perfect for our family, but stood in stark contrast to our next night's stay at a Japanese Ryokan.

We then headed to Shukkeien Garden, a garden whose name literally translates as "shrink-scenery garden." The garden, originally designed in 1620, expresses the idea of collecting and miniaturizing many scenic views, and includes ponds, foot bridges, tea cottages, and mini-mountain peaks. Jacob and Lauren led us on our exploration through the park. It was quite a peaceful spot. (Like everything else in Hiroshima, this whole Garden was destroyed in 1945, and people were unsure what the long-term effects of radiation on plants and wildlife would be. Many predicted that plant life would never grow there again. But today, this beautiful landscape again grows here):

The best part of our Shukkeien Garden experience was meeting a little old Japanese woman, who worked in the Garden. We were able to communicate, very broken Japanese to very broken English. Throughout the hour or so that we were in the Garden, she would reappear out of thin air at various places, with helpful little hints - "Here are eels" or "Here, fish jump out of water" or "Here there is Japanese wedding ceremony." It was terrific and hilarious having our own little tree nymph guide. It was a very zen, relaxing end to our day and a half in Hiroshima. Next we were off to Miyajima!

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