Japan – Miyajima Island and Hiroshima

01/05/16

To get to Hiroshima I had to take the Shinkansen train, and then I headed straight to Miyajima Island, so once off the Shinkansen I transferred to platfom 1 and got a smaller local train to Miyojimaguchi, and from there I could get a ferry.

The whole trip was covered by my JR pass which was great! It was a lovely day as well so it made the cruise much more pleasant. On the right side of the ferry I could see the Itsukshima shrine which supposedly looks like it’s floating when the tide is high. The ferry only took 10 mins and once off I could see it was a busy tourist destination, there were plenty of food stall, lots of oyster and fish cakes, and many souvenier shops and restaurants. It’s a bit pricier than in land but you definitely won’t go hungry here. There are also some deer that are really on the hunt for food and will grab any plastic bag to get it’s contents, I heard a few women scream as a deer approached them!

It’s a nice walk to the shrine and as the tide was low I was able to walk on the sand and get a nice picture, there’s also some walkways for when the tide is higher and it looked like a good photo spot too.

There was a beach there where we could relax, and plenty of spots overlooking the sea not on the beach where you could sit. I watched a lot of people digging for clams or oysters, I’m not sure but they all had this claw thing and were digging away at the sand. As I also wanted to see Hiroshima, I didn’t stay long maybe only 1 and a half hours, I managed to try a really delicious toasted apple custard tart and a shrimp cake both shaped as leaves. There are quite a few more things to see there, such as the pagoda and temples, and there’s even an aquarium so if you have a full day it would be worth seeing these spots too.

To get the ferry and train back to Hiroshima was no effort at all, and at the Shinkansen exit there is a bus station where we could use the JR pass to board the sightseeing loop bus which just drops you off on the main sight seeing places. There’s two buses though and each one goes a different loop, one goes to the castle the other doesn’t. We did actually mean to go on the orange line to see the castle first but we got on the green one so we stopped off at the A bomb site first. It is basically one of the few buildings that survived the atomic bomb as the bomb went off 600m directly overhead. They are currently restoring it so it doesn’t fall down in any earthquakes, but it’s not being rebuilt. All I could think about was looking up and just imagining what it would have been like, and thinking at how sad it had to come to America using (testing) an A bomb on all these citizens. Across the bridge there is the children’s memorium where a little girl who contracted cancer from the radiation of the bomb tried to make 1000 paper cranes which symbolised good health and longevity but she died before she could finish. Her schoolmates helped to reach the target and now it is an annual thing where people pay their respects by making paper cranes.

What I didn’t see but knew was there was the memorials and names of everyone who they knew had died in the bomb, there was also a Korean version as the Japanese had a lot of Korean slaves working for them at the time and 1 in 10 of the people who died were Korean.

The memorial park had a really nice statue and picture set up so you could see the A bomb site in the background. Many people here were donating and praying for peace.

I decided to check out the Memorial museum as I wanted to learn a bit more of Japan in WW2 and hear it from their perspective but unfortunately most of it was closed apart from one exhibition about the actual bomb and it’s repercussions. As this exhibit was so small and there was no limit on the people entering it was unbelieveably busy and I had to wait so long to see anything. They really played on heartstrings here as one of the first bits you see is a model setting of some children with their skin hanging off them struggling through a burning background. There’s also a ton of school uniforms or children’s clothes and belongings that were found either on the dying child or found after the child died. What I found fascinating was the sheer size of the bomb and how far ti actually hit. I didn’t realise that the bomb created a massive fire ball which simply burnt everything in it’s path to cinders. It got a bit disgusting when there were bits of skin and nails on show, and there were a few disturbing images of the victims. They gave a lot of interesting information on how the bomb worked and how the radiation affected the people. There was a small snippet out of the exhibition before the exit which gave some information on the war but I think I’d be better to look it up myself.

After the museum it was time to eat and luckily we came across the Ichiran ramen place which I loved back in Tokyo. I ordered pretty much the same thing as before… As it was still light we decided to walk to the castle, it took about 15mins. Once there I was surprised to see that we could still walk on the grounds (it was 6pm by this point) and the castle is really pretty as it’s made out of wood. Entry was still open until 7pm but as it takes over1 hour to get back to Osaka I skipped this and headed back to the train station. I think that a day trip to both Miyajima and Hiroshima is totally worth it, especially on a sunny day like I had. It’s a nice mixture of sea and history.

 

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