This city, despite its beauty, culture, atmosphere and status as a large economic center in Japan, will be remembered above all for one thing: August 6th, 1945. The day I went to Hiroshima was a beautiful sunny day that stood in stark contrast to the sobering thoughts and feelings provided by the Peace Memorial Museum. Most people know of the atomic bomb from history class and books, but the images, diagrams, artifacts and accounts of survivors reverberate at an entirely different volume than any book ever could. 

WARNING: There are a few disturbing images in the reel below. Please click on the pictures for further links to the stories behind the pictures.

     To many people in the West, Tokyo IS Japan. The culture, the food, and the unique style radiate to all corners of the world. Visiting here, it is most certainly easy to see why. The city seems to stretch forever, and every district seems to pop with its own style. Tokyo, meaning "Eastern Capital", officially refers to both the very small central district containing some skyscrapers and the Imperial Residence, and the entire metropolitan area that, together with downtown area, houses close to 20 million people. Below are some of the more well known districts and sights in and around Tokyo.
Shibuya, Tokyo at dusk. [HDR]


       The term "neon jungle" is often overused as a catch phrase, but to sum Shibuya and the other shopping mega-districts of Tokyo, there isn't a better description. The number of lights and advertisements and the variety of images and colors on one street is more than you'd see in a month outside of Tokyo.  This street in Shibuya (one of the more "hip" districts of Tokyo) could keep a shopper contained for weeks. Advertisements abound for everything from shoes to comics, to fuzzy stuffed pets.
          Though generally a popular shopping and night life district for all ages, on any given Friday or Saturday night you might think that it was inhabited solely by the under 25 generation. Its a little expensive for my tastes, but I'm confident that you could buy any designer item in the world without ever leaving Shibuya.

    The mystery at hand is お好み焼き or okonomiyaki. Does it belong in the pancake or omelet category? Or maybe its more of a pizza? The loose description of the basic batter is a combination of:
  • flour
  • eggs
  • a type of Asian yam
  • water
  • shredded cabbage
  • baking powder
but you can usually choose from a variety of different mixes. The popular additions include pork, cheese, squid, shrimp, onion and/or other vegetables. Two toppings I saw tonight that made me curious were "beef nerves" and "giblets". Keep in mind that the translation from Japanese is not always ideal, but even so I might be hesitant to try these additions.