My lovely travel brainsters, you wanted Hiroshima, you got Hiroshima. On a very rainy day, I packed myself into my uber stylish raincoat, packed my bento for the Shinkansen and zoomed over to the other end of Japan. Nothing too far for you. Having arrived there I was with no clue as how to see it all in one day. But with my railpass from Japan Experience, I quickly hopped on and off the local sightseeing bus and saw the best of the best. Easy peasy when you are determined like that and have such supportive readers as you are.
Ticking off the List
First things first, the castle was one major stop. By now I had seen my fair share of Japanese castles and had reached my saturation point, I’m afraid, and mostly jumped puddles in the beautiful garden covered with cherry blossom dripping trees and stones ornamented by moss. The area was not very big, I’m afraid and then I spotted a big shrine right next to it, to which I also paid a visit.
Not much was going on with the rain and a few hopeful souls were purchasing lucky charms and wishes to bring before the local spirits and deities to pray at the shrines. But my personal highlight was my first miko (shinto priestess) sighting. Just like I knew them to look like from a very respectable source, namely animes, I instantly recognised the distinctive red and white garments.
Taking Time to Remember
Not having much time to linger, I was soon standing beneath the A Bomb Memorial for which Hiroshima is mostly known – a reminder of the horrid past and the inhumane effects atomic bombs have. After all, Hiroshima was the first city in th world to suffer from an atomic attack. As I stood there in the rain staring up the ruins that were being preserved by ongoing restoration attempts, the weather reflected my inner landscape. I felt like crying, even more so at seeing bored tourists and smiley happy selfie obsessed people. I do still hope that this memory will be kept alive despite such ignorance and sheer disrespect to what it stands for.
The Peace Memorial is not the only contribution to keep the memory alive but a whole park had been created full of memorials and monuments for this purpose to both pay tribute to the victims but also show the horror. The fact that this open space used to be the busiest district in downtown Hiroshima stands testament to the destructive forces of nuclear warfare. An essential piece within the park is the ever-burning flame in the middle of a fountain which can be seen through an arch when standing in front of the memorial halls and it aligns with the The A-Bomb Dome.
Of Savoury Food and Failed Stops
By now even my bleak mood could no longer hide the fact that I was starving. It was already afternoon and I needed to grab a bite and restore my energies. Knowing that Hiroshima has its own take on the original okonomiyaki and so I headed to its special okonomiyaki district (yes, there is such a thing), called Okonomi-mura. This little place inside th city centre boasts so many different okonomiyaki places, you can’t even call them restaurants, they are so close o one another. It’s more like nooks. But that’s part of the experience and the okonomiyaki I had here was the best I have ever had. If you want to try it out yourself, I have an okonomiyaki recipe prepared for you.
Now, I needed to get going if I wanted to see the famous floating gate on the island near the city. The bus route I could hop on to had a Manga library on its way and I was all about going when all of a sudden I got up at the right stop and the whole bus didn’t move. Well, it did if you count the heads that suddenyl jerked in my direction, eyeing me like a weirdo and when the bus driver halted for an abrupt stop and I fell back into my seat, it looked as if I had changed my mind and despite that ot being true, the bus set off again. I was bummed.
In a way, this incident was good because I wouldn’t have been able to a) spend quality time in thee library, b) wouldn’t have understood the Japanese anyway and c) it would have cut down my time in my new favourite Japanese place. Miyajima is a true wonder. Not for nothing did a wandering monk once named it as one of the most picturesque places in all of Japan. And he should know, he had seen it all. Miyajima simpy has the best of the best: beaches, mountains, forest and good food.
So, what makes it e special is not just the floating gate that had been built into the mudflats in front of the temple so that it stood in the water at high tide and gave off the most splendid reflections. Just like in Nara, deer were roaming the streets, searching tourists for food once they became distracted by shopping or consuming the regions cuisine. This happened to me. Well, it was not cuisine, it was cookies in my case but I suddenly had a deer in my lap, reaching for my cookies and when I held the bag out of its reach – or so I thought – it actually tried to climb and jump up on me! A security woman and to ward off the approaching greedy animals.
And this is a broad overview of Hiroshima’s highlight. Are you satisfied with your choice and could you imagine visiting Hiroshima yourself? What were your expectations and were they met?
Disclaimer: This post was made possible through the Railpass by Japan Experience. As always my opinion and adventures are my own.