Last known location: London, England

Mountains and Memorials

After 5 nights in Tokyo we were ready for a break from the neon and crowds, and were getting a bit claustrophobic in our tiny hotel room! We caught the bullet train back South to Hiroshima, our longest trip in Japan so far at 5 hours, but it was as easy as usual and flew by – much like the scenery outside!

Our hostel in Hiroshima was very new, and seemed to have been set up in an office block! Our room was huge but very sparse, with bright white strip lighting and office blinds. Comfortable enough though and nice to have some space! That evening we had little wander around the city, which is quite compact, and as you might expect quite modern. There was quite a wide range of restaurants, and we actually ended up going for an Indian – Chicken Tikka Masala went down very well after a while without curry!

Very close to Hiroshima is Miyajima Island, renowned as one of the most scenic spots in Japan and much talked up by the guidebook, so we made the short journey by tram and ferry to have a look for ourselves. The scenery on the island was spectacular, with pristine forest and the peak of Mount Misen rising up through it. There are wild, but now very tame deer roaming around everywhere, and we soon encountered them. They were particularly interested in the contents of our bags; the island was full of warning signs saying that they’d eat anything and everything! There are also monkeys on the island , but we didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of any.

A cable car runs to the top of the mountain, but we were feeling energetic so thought we’d walk the 3 kilometres to the top under own steam. What we didn’t quite take into account however was how steep it would be – the mountain is 530m high, so it was mainly steps all the way up to the top. Very hot, and slightly red in the face we made it to the top about an hour and a half later, but it was well worth it for the views. You could see over to the city of Hiroshima and across the islands of the inland sea in all directions.  Really spectacular.

One of the main attractions on the small island is the Floating Torii (gate), that stands in the sea outside a large Shinto temple in the small bay. After making our way back down the mountain we explored the temple, and also got to see the world’s largest (and possibly most useless) rice spatula, as well as trying some Pale Ale brewed by the Miyajima brewery, which was very good! It’s Oyster season in Hiroshima too, so Gem got to try some grilled, which were apparently delicious!

We later found out that some friends got married on the island, and it’s certainly a perfect spot for it, as you can see from the photos.

The next day we woke up with very stiff legs from all those stairs and left early have a look at the Peace Park in Hiroshima.  Our first stop was the Peace Memorial Museum which explained the history of Hiroshima and how its world changed on 6th August 1945.  Obviously really moving stuff, but what most surprised us was how soon after the bombing Hiroshima  began it’s on-going attempt to create and maintain peace.  After the museum we walked through the Peace Park and looked at the Centopath, which contains all the names of those who died.  It’s updated with the names of those who passed away more recently because of complications they suffered thanks to radiation.  The Flame of Peace is just down from the Centopath and was only be extinguished if and when all nuclear weapons have been eliminated from Earth.  Which, unfortunately, will probably be never.  The Children’s Peace Monument was surrounded by local school children who seemed to be reciting poems in large groups.  It’s constantly surrounded by hundreds of colourful paper cranes.  The A Bomb Dome is just outside the park and the steel dome frame and dilapidated condition of the building really bring home the level of destruction the city endured.  Although the history of Hiroshima is clearly awful, it’s a very positive city which is really inspiring.

We stopped for lunch at a place that serves the local speciality: okonomiyaki.  This pancake of egg, noodles, cabbage and pork was really tasty and energised us sufficiently to leave Hiroshima and catch our last bullet train to Hakata, our final stop in Japan.

1 Comment:
  1. Rose 30 Nov, 2010

    I notice Dan is wearing a t-shirt while everyone else is in sweaters and jackets!! Stunning scenery. The trees are really beautiful colours. You’ve probably picked the best time of the year to go.


    Mum x x x

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