From now on I can act like a proper tourist as all the destinations moving forward are new to me. This does include Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is a different city compared to the previous ones due to its sad historical past and unique island Majiyama. We have divided the trip into to parts to take most out of our stay in Hiroshima.
In general, Hiroshima attracts many tourists from all over the world. We stayed in APA Hotel and every time I walked to an elevator, I could meet some foreigners. We started our trip by trying Okonomiyaki – traditional Hiroshima grilled pancake. It does contain a lot of various ingredients such as egg, seaweed, bacon, wheat noodles, cabbage, bean sprouts. You can choose some add-ons with fish and meats – this dish keeps you full for the rest of the day. When you are in Hiroshima, you MUST try this dish.
Highlight of DAY 1 – Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki used to be considered a special desert served at Buddhist ceremonies. Interesting to say but the dish was invented in beloved Osaka, however, was well adopted by Hiroshima after A-Atomic tragedy.I personally find Hiroshima style is a snacky way of making the dish – you grill all the ingredients and then lay one on another. Osaka’s way is to actually blend the ingredients and grill together – Okonomiyaki History .
The story behind Hiroshima’s “lazy” way of making Okonomiyaki can be the fact that after the Atomic bomb tragedy, survived people were starving and tried to filled themselves with whatever they could find around. People used the few ingredients they had—vegetables like cabbage and onions mixed with flour that came from the U.S. post-war rations—and whatever extra ingredients they could get their hands on to fill up their stomachs.
Okonomiyaki is best described by its translation. It literally means “whatever you want”(okonomi), “grilled (yaki). – お好み焼き .
Highlight of DAY 2 – Majiyama Island
We got up early morning to catch one of the earliest ferries to the Island and catch nice morning sunlight. Unfortunately, traditional Itsukushima Shrine gates were closed for renovation (upcoming Olympics Games 2020), however, we managed to get inside the Shrine that isn considered to be UNESCO World Heritage.
We started our Majiyama journey and got attacked by deer straight away. Deer are everywhere on the island – they are just a part of the nature there. They are wild but managed to merge well into human society. They do love stealing your food…or anything looking like food. You can pet them but be mindful that some of them can be aggressive (wild animals..).
Back to the Shrine – It was originally built 1423 years ago in 593CE by Saeki no Kuramoto. The place is unique for one more reason – the Itsukushima Shrine was built specifically at a location where the tides rise and fall. Back that time, the whole island wasn considered to be a god. it is said a location where the tides rise and fall was chosen specifically so the god or kami would not be damaged when they constructed the shrine. Take your time to explore the Shrine:
- Start with at the Marodo Shrine – It has been designated as a national treasure;
- Then The Main Shrine dedicated to the the three female deities have long been dutifully worshipped as they are the gods of the sea, transport, fortune, and the arts;
- The O-Torii gate is best seen from inside the Shrine but was closed this time 😦 – you can also reach the gate on your feet.
We managed to watch the traditional Japanese wedding at the East corridor of Marono Shrine.
In Russia we say when you see a happy wedding, make a wish. I made a wish looking at that beautiful procession. There was something special and magical looking at that thousand years ceremonial tradition.
And to wishes, there was also a wish/lucky box that we all gave a try. There was no translation though so my task for the next few days to find a decent Japanese/English translator to find out my prophesy.
Then we went on a ropeway. After some elaboration the decision was made to take one-way ticket and explore the inner island beauty, nature and temples on out feet. Never regretted about this decision. Hence, supporting my FITNESS.
I will never stop saying to go out and explore the area on your two feet. We have discovered little temples and unique natural places that you will never see sitting in a ropeway or train. We have reached the tope of the Misen Point and walked all way down to the incredible Daisho-in Temple. The temple is not as popular as the Shrine, however, you shall walk pass countless statues on the left side of the temple garden – they are meant to give you some blessings and luck for future.
The Majiyama Island reminded me of Bruna Island in Tasmania. They both have mountains that gives you 360 view of the area and it was breathtaking. We had to walk all way up and then down the mountain but it definitely worth it. I have to admit that my calfs and legs were extremely sore next couple of days – warm spa, roller and morning jogging helped me to relief the soreness.
The first part of the trip was very traditional, spiritual and exploratory. We can back to grab a bowl of ramen each and head to the hotel super tired.
Highlight of DAY 3 – Atomic Bomb Dome and Hiroshima Peace Memorial
The second part of our trip was more thoughtful – that made you think of one human disaster happened last century.
I have met a fair few Japanese kids happily jumping to me asking a few English phrases and given little origami cranes in dedication to peace in the Hiroshima park. Then I have seen same kids in tears walking out of that museum. Some of them had hysteria from what they had seen inside. That place contained historical facts that couldn’t leave your eyes dry..
Hiroshima is the first city in the world that has been attacked by atomic bomb. This happened on 6th August 1945. The decision was made by the US to drop one atomic bomb in Hiroshima followed by another one in three days in Nagasaki. In the US army’s opinion, that was the best solution to stop the war in the Asia Pacific region and stop deaths..oh well, great decision to kill 140,000 innocent people in one go and destroy lives of next generations for many years ahead living in miserable conditions, developing leukaemia and cancer from radiation, suiciding themselves..
I couldn’t take photos inside the museum – there is no photo can describe what was seen inside. I took one and I deleted it right away – you cannot capture this. You need to see it with your own eyes, feel it and empathise. The place keeps stories of killed souls still screaming and begging stop the war around the world. You can feel moaning of those souls walking across the museum park begging to stop the pain. Believe me or not but the pictures of the past are duplicated in your mind when you walk pass the Atomic bomb Dome- you can see those burnt bodies, horrified faces of schoolboys and girls (the bomb was dropped 350 metres from a public school), and ruins of the beautiful city.
There are only two emotions you can see walking out of the museum – people are being quiet or crying.
Things like that make you clearly understand why one of the Global Goals of the United Nations is to make the world atomic bomb and weapons free.
If you are running low in time, forget about anything – The Dome is that one place you are in Hiroshima for.
Overall, if you have decent 2-3 days in the area, see the list of things worth to visit:
- Atomic Bomb Dome
- The Peace Memorial Museum
- Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the atomic bomb victims
- Children’s Peace Monument (dedicated in memory of Sadako Sasaki)
- Hiroshima Castle and park nearby (I did exploring while running in the morning – nice, quiet and lack of tourist time of the day – 6:30am)
- Okonomiyaki Food Court (Hiroshima Station area) – If you have time (I didn’t), visit the Wood Egg Okonomiyaki Museum
- Miyajima Island
- Itsukushima Shrine
- Daisho-in Temple