Trying to sooth both body and mind, mine and Sofia’s last two days in Hiroshima were spent walking through Saijo. With our new friend Nadja from another seminar group, we found that Saijo is amazingly picturesque with its traditional houses and calm atmosphere. To my great joy, the last evening included shabu shabu, my absolute favorite dish in Japan. It’s a type of fondue – you cook meat, vegetables, dumblings, noodles (really whatever you want, this particular restaurant had many options) in a delicious broth.
Also, Saijo is known for its quality Sake, and offers everybody free samples at all of their traditional breweries. We obviously took advantage of this, and found ourselves buying home a nice and unexpectedly affordable bottle each. The man in charge of the boutique insisted on showing us English information videos, so at this point we can also account for the production of traditional Sake!
We also got a final piece of Japanese crazyness, when we explored the top floor of the otherwise quiet youme house. We were met by some sort of an arcade, with a mix of a never ending noise from the machines and a parade song about the Rilakkuma bear; pink machines filled with candy; and running children. Thanks to the kind people at the hotel, we could calm our nerves at their spa after we had checked out. So our last hours in Hiroshima were spent in the bath and the massage chair (very violent against our calves! We figured they’re just too big, much as the rest of us have been here in Japan).
The dreaded trip home (Hotel –> Saijo station –> Hiroshima –> Tokyo station + long wait –> Narita airport + long wait –> Helsinki airport –> Copenhagen airport –> Malmö) went surprisingly smooth. As Tokyo station closed when we arrived, and we were pretty much thrown out of it, we got to experience night-time central Tokyo (incredibly calm) in an overprized tapas place and some sort of night café that people went to just to make time pass until the first train starts to run again. Needless to say, we had absolutely no problem sleeping on our flights!
Home again, I can only say that this has been one of the best experiences I’ve had. Both Tokyo and Hiroshima have been absolutely incredible. As regards the INU Summer School, I have no doubts in recommending anybody to apply! It’s quite amazing actually, to have the opportunity to get a scholarship to go to Japan and to meet such great people. It is incredibly intense – not a whole lot of rest! And not a whole lot of spare time, which is the reason I’m writing my last post from home! But the intensity is good, since so many great experiences are crammed in to one week. When we were on the plane going home, I asked Sofia: “for how long have we been gone?” and she answered:
“I don’t know, three months?”
And that’s not because it was boring or too much, we were just able to experience so much. Thank you INU, Malmö University and Hiroshima University. And thank you Japan!