Day 20 – Hiroshima & Miyajima

So we were off to explore Hiroshima and took a tram out to the memorial area. Again we were struck by one of the annoying things about Japan, you can’t get proper food before 10 or 11am. As we were waiting for a restaurant to open, we decided look around instead. With Japan, their stores have heaps of things out on display for you to play with. I got my hands on a Pentax 645D Digital Medium Format Camera and this thing was amazing. The bokeh and depth of field you get was just stunning!

Playing with a Pentax 645D

It’s also nice to see Japan is still in touch with classics, this man here was photographing using some sort of medium format camera.

Old school Medium Format

As we had an hour or so to wait before breakfast, we explored the monuments on one side of the river, the most notable and distinct is the A-bomb dome (or what’s left of it). It’s one of the few structures which survived the atomic bomb blast, it’s been maintained over the years to serve as a grim reminder of the power and destruction caused by the bomb.

Looking at the building itself is quite eerie and you being to wonder how it could retain its structure despite the force of the bomb.

A Bomb Dome remains

Everywhere you look, you’ll see lots and lots of colourful paper cranes, notably this set coming from Strathfield Girls High School, it was odd to see such a familiar name.

Paper cranes from Stratty girls
More paper cranes

There’s quite a few monuments dedicated to the victims of the Hiroshima bombings, each of these represent a different group of victims/casualties, this first one is for the students that were mobilised during the time.

Memorial tower for moblised students

By now it was approaching 11am and it was time for some food, one of Hiroshima’s specialties is their own variation of the Okonomiyaki, which is somewhat a Japanese pancake. The Hiroshima variety though has a slight variation, they’ve got noodles in it as well! This makes it more filling and a more wholesome meal.

Breakfast time =D
Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki

It was fantastic and I definitely prefer Hiroshima style over the regular one.

Delicious, highly recommended

Next it was time to explore the rest of the monuments and things around Hiroshima and the A Bomb site, the first is the children’s monument, this thing itself it shaped a little like a bomb. The monument is a reflection of Sadako’s story, a young girl who was dying from from radiation. On her death bed she was told that if she folded a thousand paper cranes could get a wish, she proceeded to do this until she saw the children around her dying and instead wished for world peace, unfortunately she never made it to 1000 and finished 644, instead friends around her completed the thousand and buried it with her.

Children's monument, shaped like an A Bomb

Inside rests a bell which has a golden paper crane underneath, most likely following the theme that the paper crane is a symbol for peace.

Bell and Crane inside the monument
Paper cranes to make a world of peace
Details of the monument

The top of the statue is a young child holding a paper crane up high, almost as though so it could fly.

Child holding up a crane on top

From this side you can also see the A-Bomb dome in full and how ruined it is yet it retains enough detail for you to make out what the building would have looked like.

View of the A Bomb Dome from the other side

There were a few other monuments and memorials around here, including one for the Koreans which died in the atrocity. It’s here you can find out a lot about the bombing and the Japanese point of view on the matter. Before you hit the museum, you can see this memorial which carries the flame of piece. On one side is the Cenotaph and looking through, you look directly down on the flame (it’s a bit hard to see in broad daylight).

Through the Cenotaph at the flame of peace

Many years on and people still come here daily to pray for their ancestors and loved ones.

Praying at the Cenotaph

Before going to the museum, we first stepped down into the Peace Memorial Hall. Here we found quite a few recounts and memoirs from survivors and those that escaped the tragedy. There was one story of a man who couldn’t get up in the morning and missed his train to work, as a result, he was able to survive when all of his co-workers perished in the blast.

Ramp down to the Peace Memorial Hall

Inside the hall was this depiction of the surrounding area after the bomb’s blast. In this memorial, you can get a 360 degree view of what the scene would have been like right after the blast, all you see is rubble with the exception of the remains of only a couple of buildings. Quite an insight and really puts you in the middle of it.

360 Degree view from the hypocentre

We then went into the museum, on the other side was a conference centre and looking down you could see how modern the building looks.

Near the conference centre

Inside there was so much information about the events leading up to the devastating day, information as to why Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen, the effects of the bomb, the number of casualties and more. I remember these was one story about a photographer who was at the scene, he had his camera in his hand, but he was so horrified at what he saw that he wasn’t able to take a photo, he just couldn’t believe what he saw and simply could not raise the viewfinder to his eye. It gives a little insight as to how bad the destruction was and the models below show clothes being melted onto their victims.

Depictions of the melted clothing

Also plenty of models about the bomb and where it detonated, as you can see it didn’t blow on impact but rather a few hundred meters above, this was to maximise damage.

Replica of the Bomb
Model display showing where the bomb exploded and the aftermath

There’s a lot of sad stories inside and it’s quite saddening to hear about so many deaths especially to those that were so young. Many relics inside the museum included old toys which were tarnished by the blast as well as deformations to buildings, glass shards penetrating concrete walls and shadows caused by the bomb’s blast.

Remains of a Tricycle

Once we finished, looking outside I had tried to imagine where everything was, from here you can see the Aioi bridge which was the target, this was a rather important strategic target to stop the transport of supplies for the Japanese.

The target: the Aioi bridge

While the stories inside were quite moving, we had to get along to see the last destination in Hiroshima, the Hiroshima Castle. Along the way we saw this large shopping centre which was just so big and so modern looking, but we didn’t have time to visit so we went onto see the castle. Like all castles, this one too was surrounded by a moat and the water was so still and produced a lovely reflection.

Outside Hiroshima Castle

There were these signs around which depicted the trees which survived the blast, they looked rather normal and didn’t seem to mutate from the radiation or anything, somewhat disappointing.

Some trees survived the bomb

It seems that every castle has a shrine nearby and this one here was no different.

Shrine inside the castle walls

This castle was also just gorgeous, it had a different colour scheme to the Osaka one, but this one retained more of a natural look as you could see the natural wood colour rather than paint over the top.

The castle itself

This was all we had time for in Hiroshima and it was time for us to head a little further south to Miyajima, so it was tram back to our hostel then a train down to Miyajima. It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was about to set, perfect it should make for a great.

One of the must sees in Miyajima is on Miyajima Island, this attraction houses the ‘floating torii gate’ something many people recognise immediately. Despite the name, it doesn’t actually float and during low tide, you can actually walk out and touch the gate itself. We tried to rush there in order to catch low tide, but we just missed it, the water was slowly coming in and I was about 4 or 5 meters away from touching the gate, so close. The sunset made for some lovely photos, as you can see it going down in the background.

The floating Torii Gate

Behind the gate is the Itsukushima shrine which stands out in the night due to its lights.

Itsukushima Shrine by night

It gets dark quick and things close pretty early on the island, there was only supposed to be one restaurant that opens late, but we couldn’t really find it, instead we had some oysters.

Oysters being cooked

These things are massive and unlike the large oysters you get here, these things are still soft and very tasty.

Large and tasty

Miyajima island has something else that’s rather unique, it actually holds the world’s largest rice scoop, something that is so random. It’s quite big, but it’s no monster, probably about 4 meters long, not sure why someone would suddenly decide to make a rice scoop that big.

World's largest rice scoop

Well seeing as we failed to find dinner on the island, we headed back to the mainland and searched there, here we found a little restaurant and we sat down to eat. I decided to try cold noodles this time round and opted for the cold soba with tempura. To be honest, I’m not a big fan, noodles just don’t seem right to me when they’re cold.

Cold soba
with Tempura

I finished it anyway as I was hungry but I wasn’t impressed, we had a little walk around before heading back to the hostel. It’s here I saw something somewhat unique, a Honda Civic Type R, certainly something you don’t see in Australia.

Civic Type R

Back at the hostel we just chilled out for a bit with the other guests and I also went out to buy some snacks to munch on. While I never got a photo, I saw one of the most bizarre things, there was a lady walking a dog of some sort but it would constantly try to walk on its FRONT feet! It was just very odd to see a dog go on its front legs. Certainly cool though, after trying out some more Japanese sweets, it would be time to head to bed as we were off to explore the rest of Miyajima Island in the morning.

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