From Kyoto, I got the train to Hiroshima where I am going to stay for a couple of days. The journey took a few hours but I really enjoyed it as I had plans to make an origami paper crane to donate at the statue of Sadoko Sasaka at the Hiroshima peace park.
She was a young girl who died from leukaemia in the aftermath of the atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima and she had believed that if she made 1000 paper cranes then the gods would heal her. Unfortunately, she died but it has become a tradition for visitors to give a paper crane so I wanted to make one and the train journey seemed like the perfect time.
I had my origami paper out and instructions ready when an elderly lady sat next to me saw what I was doing and gestured for me to pass her some paper and she showed me how to do it. She did not speak English and apart from the few words and phrases I have picked up, I do not speak any Japanese so we spent the time in peaceful silence communicating through gestures as we made origami paper cranes together. I had a wonderful time.
Upon reaching Hiroshima, I said “sayanora” to the old lady and made my way straight to my hostel so I could drop my rucksack down. The hostel I stayed at was very basic and the rooms were very small and a little smelly so I did not want to spend any more time in there than was absolutely necessary and was keen to head out straight away to explore.
First stop was to get lunch. At the Hiroshima train station, there were a wide range of restaurants so I decided to just eat there. I got a dish called “Japanese style spaghetti”. It was pretty cool to experience the Japanese-italian fusion of flavours and the result was delicious!
That afternoon I went to visit the Hiroshima park and peace museum. It was quite a short journey by taking the tram. Once again, I got a little confused getting on it but luckily someone told me that you needed to tap your card as you get on and as you get off which is different from the bus system from the other cities I have been to so far in Japan.
Once I got to the peace park, I had a really nice time looking around and learning more about Hiroshima and the history of the atomic bomb that was dropped by the US. The weather was terrible with really heavy rain but thankfully I was with a group of other people and we had a tour guide so we were able to have all the different monuments explained to us. I really appreciated this as it meant I did not miss anything that I might have done rushing around by myself in the rain.
First of all, I saw the atomic bomb dome which is the remains of the Hiroshima prefectural industrial promotion hall. Despite the atomic bomb most of the structure has remained and has become a memorial of the bombing. The crumbling infrastructure created a stark constrast to the beautiful greenery of the park and really made me acutely aware of the devastation that was caused to Hiroshima by the bomb.
Then I went to the children’s peace monument which is based on the story of Sasaki Sadoko. I was able to donate the paper cranes I had made on my train journey here. There was a bell outside which you could ring and as I did this, I internally said a prayer for all the children who had died because of the bombing. I prayed for peace in the world and for good to always triumph over evil.
I then went to the cenotaph for atomic bomb victims. In it there is a list of all the victims that died as a result of the Hiroshima bomb and as they keep identifying people, they keep on adding to the list. Just before it, I saw the flame of peace which is supposed to keep burning until there are no more nuclear weapons in the world.
I then went to visit the Hiroshima peace memorial museum. This was a good place to learn more about what happened during the Hiroshima bombing, why it happened and what the aftermath was. The most moving part for me was the area with the videos of survivors stories. Just hearing the extent of the human suffering that damaged generations of Japanese people made me feel so sad.
What I enjoyed the most about the museum is that despite learning about the tragic history of Hiroshima and the devastation the bomb caused, the underpinning message to it all was promoting peace. There was no blaming or aggression, just an overwhelming desire to ensure such a disaster would never happen again. I found that really inspiring. There was also a peace watch which marked the amount of days since the Hiroshima atomic bomb and the amount of days since the last nuclear test. Every time a country does a nuclear test, the counter resets itself.
From the museum, I went to explore the arcade area which had lots of shops and restaurants and that night I went to a restaurant to experience the local cuisine. I had the hiroshima-style Okonimiyaki which is a dish made up of mostly noodles, cabbage, pork, and eggs with seasoning and a base of something that looked like a tortilla wrap. I had mine without the egg and with shrimp. They cook it live in front of you and it was a very different flavour to anything I have had before but very tasty.
The following morning, I head out early to grab some breakfast before making my way to Miyashima Island. The ferry ride over is included in the Japan rail pass so it was good to make the most of it.
Once I arrived on the island, I went to go and see the itsukushima-jinja shrine. As it was early, the tide was still high so I was able to see the torii gate floating. It was really cool because as I was on the island for a long time, I was also able to see it in low tide where it is just surrounded by mud so you can walk right up to it. It was definitely way more beautiful whilst it was floating but I am glad I got to see both!
I then spent some time looking around the shops, of which there were many! I am not really much of a shopper and I do not really have any space to carry stuff back home but there was a shop that solely stocked matcha flavoured things. I knew my sister’s would love things like that so I could not resist stopping to buy them a few things!
If I see more things I want to buy for people, I might look into posting stuff back home so I do not have to carry it around with me.
From there I stopped to eat some lunch. There were different types of food everywhere. You could easily spend the afternoon just going around the different stalls tasting all the food! I was told that the oysters were supposed to be a speciality so I decided to buy some. The other people I was with were massive seafood lovers and one guy even said it was the best oyster he had ever eaten. Personally, I was not really a fan of the texture but I am happy I tried it!
After lunch, I went to go and visit the Daisho-in temple. It was a really nice temple with lots of little Buddha’s with hats on the outside. On the walk there, there was lots of nice greenery and a waterfall.
I was hoping to go up Mount Misen via the ropeway but at this point the heavens had really opened up and I was completely soaked so I decided it was time to start heading back to mainland. But not before buying myself an ice cream to cheer myself up as all the rain had been really getting me down. It might seem crazy eating ice cream in the rain but I got a real kick out of it and it put me back in a great mood!
That night, I went to a local restaurant before spending the evening relaxing. One of the girls I was sharing a room with was snoring so loudly and the other was making a lot of noise moving around in the bunk above me so I have not really slept the past two nights.
I then tried to sort myself out for the next day as there was nothing else I had a burning desire to do Hiroshima. I am heading to Osaka next and from there flying to Hong Kong but flights have been cancelled due to damage to the Osaka kansai airport after the typhoon. So I wanted to spend some time looking into alternatives.
It’s just me, Dammy, en route to Osaka…