I had been to Hiroshima on my previous trip but it was literally for two hours on our way to a football fixture. This time we would get to sample the whole of the city and beyond. On arrival we found a lovely Information Volunteer who not only told us how to get to our hotel but actually walked us down to the Streetcar (tram) and saw us safely on. Only in Japan do you get this level of service without looking for a tip!!
Our accommodation for this final stay was to be at Ryokan S….. a traditional style family owned business just 10 minutes walk from the Peace Museum. The woman owner spoke little English but her enthusiasm was apparent for all to see and she helped us to our room 3 hours before check in time, which was very grateful of her. The only issue with the accommodation was that it was a shared bathroom and although it wasn’t the biggest there needed to be one further shower room than the one on offer.
Anyways, after the usual freshening up we headed off to what is always a sombre moment, visiting the site of the 1945 atomic bomb in the city. Half of the museum was closed for renovation but what you do is always a timely reminder of how cruel mankind can be. Walking around the park you get asked lots of questions off school children practicing their English and realize that although the people will never forget the atrocity that occurred, they have moved on and really support world peace and the removal of all nuclear weapons in the world. The atomic dome is a poignant reminder of the impact the atomic bomb had and although taking photos is a must you do also feel slightly awkward doing so.
After lunch and a beer we headed off on another walk to Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Park. As usual both were impressive but we couldn’t stay too long as we wanted to get back and changed in preparation for the nights activity, watching the Hiroshima Carps baseball team at home vs Yokohama. Many don’t realize that baseball is king in Japan, forget football and sumo, the family atmosphere at a baseball game is an unforgettable experience. Aida expected 700 fans or such to be there and was shocked when she saw a capacity 33,000 at the Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium. Entry was 1700 Yen, about $16 and this was for the free seating areas. The atmosphere is very Japanese, there is no banter as in British or American sport and the fans only sing and chant when their team is batting. Although there were only about 500 Yokohama fans present they certainly made themselves heard which obviously worked as they ran out comfortable winners 8-3. We headed for food at Hiroshima Station accompanied by many of the fans who seemed to take defeat very easily (maybe it is a common thing), and then back to the Ryokan for another well earned rest.
Our final full day saw us head out of Hiroshima to the spectacular island: Miyajima. To get there you jumped on the Streetcar for 5 stops to Nishi Hiroshima Station and then using our JR Pass we caught the train (20 mins) to the Pier for the 10 minute ferry ride over to the island (again using your JR Pass). The main reason many travel to Miyajima is to see the O-torii Gate, which is actually in the water.
What many don’t expect including ourselves was to be greeted by wild deer roaming around the streets. I expected them to be in the woods but wondering around the streets was quite a pleasant surprise. We followed the crowds and deer to the shrine and took the obligatory photos before heading off on a little journey around the stunning island.
The Daisho-In Temple was my favourite temple in Japan with so many new statues and halls to visit. We then headed off up Mt.Misen but half way up we decided that we had seen enough and headed back down (which took a fraction of the time). I only had my flip flops on so trekking in these wasn’t the best experience but the scenery sure was worth the hassle. Eating lunch was a good experience, as you had to watch out for the deer sneaking up behind you and grabbing a bite of your chicken. They are not aggressive at all like some monkeys are around Asia but none-the-less they don’t ask politely for a bite so be aware.
Our final night was spent walking around the shopping area of Hiroshima and for a city which was told would take a 100 years to become inhabitable again after the bombing, it’s a truly vibrant city which shows the world how resilient the Japanese people are.