Hiroshima

On the previous post we left the calm of Koyasan for Hiroshima.

We arrived at the train station that the sky was still bright, so, once left our belongings in the hotel, we went for city tour.

Random statue found in the city

As we had planned to visit the Peace Memorial Museum the day after, we decided to go and check the Hiroshima Castle.

Hiroshima castle

It was rebuilt in 1958, as a replica of the original. Now serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s history before World War II.
The park surrounding the castle contains also another historical landmark: the Hiroshima Imperial General Headquarter.

Remains of the Imperial General Headquarters

This site was left as it was found after the bomb. Literally nothing left…

Sara trying to help to preserve the garden

Despite having these rests, the park is really beautiful and well kept. In this park there is also a tree which survived the bombing, despite being less than 800 meters from the hypocenter.

Walking away from the park, we started looking for a place where to have dinner. We wanted to go to Hassei, one of the best reviewed Okonomiyaki restaurant in town. Unfortunately it was closed for a private dinner.

We fell back on Micchan, an Okonomiyaki chain which was just a couple of hundred meters from Hassei.

The cooking procedure is the same we saw the last time in Kyoto, but here the grill was much longer, and the place was big and ventilated enough to avoid our shirts to smell like cooked stuff.

Multi ingredients Okonomiyaki

Food here was much better than the one we had in Kyoto. Hiroshima truly is the capital of the Okonomiyaki!

 The upcoming day we planned to wake up early in the morning, so we aimed directly to the hotel to get some rest.

Good morning world! Today the sun shines and we are going to rock the day! That’s what you usually say after a great sleep. Our hotel has the hardest beds we’ve ever sat on, and I’m pretty sure that many people which are used to “fall” over the bed have broken their bones. I swear, the futon is waaaaaay softer! 

Anyways, after reading online that the Miyajima trip can result in a feel-like-a-sardine experience when going after 10am, we planned to go there either with the first ferry leaving the pier or the second. The second sounded better. Our 4+ alarms started their drill at 5:30 am, and after a few snoozes we were finally rising from the rock hard bed. We crawled to the station as the city was silently waking up, and after locking our backpacks in one of the key lockers we reached the pier with a short trip of metro. 

In Japan there are two things you never have trouble finding: restrooms and coin lockers. Either their bladder is really small or the gallons of green tea they drink has a very diuretic effect!  As for the coin lockers you can find them at any train station, regardless of its size. The lockers usually come in 4 sizes (S~XL/400¥~700¥ per day) and they have a fixed rate around the country. Both our big backpacks fit well in a medium size locker. 

Back to the trip. Our ferry was almost empty, and we were the only non Asians on the boat. Ha-ha! 
The trip lasted just 10 minutes, and we arrived around 7:30 am on the island. 

We are on Miyajima

We walked down from the pier towards the main shrine, and had a few deer encounters on the way. These little guys wander in the streets not giving a duck about cars or people. They are actually cuter than the ones we found in Nara. 
When we went into the main shrine, it was actually us and the monks. The shrine is named Itsukushima, which is actually also the name of the island. The latter is usually called Miyajima since in Japanese it means shrine island. 

When we arrived there was low tide, and the whole shrine was actually resting on wet sand/mud. It was a nice view, but we decided to reuse our tickets later to see also the high tide version where the shrine seems to float on water. 
While sitting on the shrine’s “pier” we spotted an horde of tourist arriving, and promptly stood up to go enjoy another temple nearby. Daisho-in.

The entrance of this temple is full of statues covered with hand knitted hats of scarfs.

We wondered in the temple alone. No other tourist were there, and we could really appreciate the quiteness of the place.

There was a cavern in the temple with a lot of lanterns hooked on the ceiling. In the darkness of the cave, it seemed unreal.

Walking away from the temple we bumped into another collection of statues dressed for winter…

We didn’t plan on going up the mountain Misen, but we had the best experiences walking in the nature, and the sign said 90 minutes for the trail, so we went.

We wondered if that timing was in monk-minutes or lazy-tourist-minutes. Anyways, after just 10 minutes walk we encountered a wild deer who didn’t like the tourists which populate the pier. 

Luckily, the timing for the hiking trail was estimated for lazy tourists, and the whole path took us around 70 minutes. 

On top of Mt Misen there is a lover sanctuary, and also a flame that is said to be 1200 years old… 

Climbing for 5 more, we reached an observation deck. The view was mesmerising, but we heard a scream faaar far away. We were hungry (what a surprise). Let’s go catch us some food! We descended down another trail, where we encountered many people struggling to get up. It was surprisingly pleasant to be greeted by anyone we met by a simple “konnichiwa” or “ohayo”. 
We checked some places to eat but they all looked too touristy. Miyajima is particularly famous for a leaf shaped sweet and oysters. Neither of us like the latter, so we went for the sweets. It was obviously filled with red beans, but it tastes so good! 

I’ve also read some good reviews about an okomiyaki place, so we went there. Yesterday we thought to be eating the best okomiyaki ever, but this one was off the scale. The place is called Okomiyaki Kishibe, it’s a very small room with an old cute lady cooking and another on helping. We were the only non locals among the 10 clients. We tried to write down all the steps to recreate the recipe at home, but some of the ingredients were mysterious to us. Anyway the hiroshima style okomiyaki consists on different layers of noodles, cabbage, egg, batter and pork. 
This awesome experience costed us just around 10 euros each, including two beers (which account for most of the receipts here in Japan). When we stood up we felt all the weight of the previous hike, and all our muscles were suddenly crying aloud.

Before leaving we went back to the water shrine to see how it looked with water under its feet…

Definitely something else!
We rolled down to the pier and took the first ferry to Hiroshima. 

The JrPass I’m Hiroshima allows us to make use of a bus service with a funny name and a chubby deer mascotte: Meripuru~pu.

Using this bus we reached the Atomic bomb dome, one of the buildings that didn’t vanish with the atomic bomb explosion.

It looked like a skeleton, and even being very close to the hypocenter, most of it’s walls are still there. 
We then went through the Children’s Peace Museum, and the flame of pace together with the cenotaph for the victims. 

Then it was the time for Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum… The museum is informative, and the first part is “lightweight”. As you move forward the museum gets more and more real, and Sara had goose bumps for the whole duration of the visit. 
After this kind of experience it’s inevitable to ask to ourselves how and why weapons like that keep being tested.

For respect we didn’t​ snap any pictures inside the museum.

We left the museum and went to catch our bus, as we were running late for the Shinkansen to Kobe. On the train we realised we didn’t have accommodation. We we booked the hotel in Kobe we selected the wrong date. So we had to find another while going there.

With some luck we did find a room in the APA hotel, just few minutes walk from the train station.
But this is another day story…
Thanks for staying with us, and see you tomorrow for another post.

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