Hiroshima

Adventure 18 Day Four | Hiroshima

Wednesday

Day four of my trip was dedicated to Hiroshima city. The first thing I did in the morning, and the most important of the trip, was going to the Peace Memorial Museum. Going there by myself was a big factor of why I took this trip alone, and I’m glad I did. The museum is currently under renovation (due to be finished this summer) so I was able to see the permanent area but not the other exhibitions. I got an audio guide which I would definitely advise doing if you go.

In a University course I took, we talked about how pictures of tragedies (current or historical) put distance between the viewer and the event. The internal response feels like that’s sad, I’m sad that happened but because it’s a picture the contents are framed as something separate from our own realities. Films, documentaries, and even news reports are similar – they can invoke an emotional response but the story exists on a screen.

Museums can do what pictures and films cannot. As you walk through the Peace Museum you can reach out and touch the texture of roof tiles that were changed by the explosion. You see the burns in the clothing worn by someone who lost their life laid out before you. You see the actual steps of a building where a dark mark was left by someone sitting during the explosion. You listen to stories from survivors who lost their children – their despair and regrets. A woman tells you how she sent her young son into the city on the day of the bombing even though he told her he was sick that day – “I killed him” she says, she blames herself for his death. In their intimacy these stories show the magnitude of what happened that day.

The exhibition also presents the science behind the atomic bomb. It shows long-lasting effects of that day – survivors who lived with debilitating health and psychological problems. It shows the details of the environmental impacts in the city. The reality is straightforward, and it is sobering.

I’m not sure what else can be said. I left the museum into the large park and just sat on a bench for a while. I felt hyper-aware of all my senses – how bright the sunlight was, the sound of the trees, of how people in groups were walking in differently than people alone, the coldness of the bench under me, the sounds of traffic out of sight. I was acutely aware of the humanness of myself and those around me. The thoughts, emotions, feelings, and concerns that comprise my own personal and self-centered universe also exist in every other human. The sheer volume of this is unfathomable and I felt it full force as I was sitting in the park.

I did other things that day – I walked through the peace park, to the castle, to the museum of modern art and then back. Being alone in the bustle of cities always makes me feel connected to other people and the world. And that day the same feeling was there but in a new way – with an overwhelming awareness of the significance in everyday normalcy.

A display of paper cranes sent from schools around the world at the Children’s Peace Monument.

Advertisements

Adventure 18 Day Three | Miyajima Magic

Tuesday

I love hostels but getting up early is always so awkward knowing you’re bothering people. Climbing down from the top bunk on a noisy ladder is going to wake someone up, no matter how hard you try. Luckily I’m a really deep sleeper so this never bothers me, but for others all I can do is be as quiet as possible.

I walked to the station and caught the 7:50 train from that got me to Iwakuni station at 8:43. I didn’t use my Seishun 18 Kippu this day because it the fare to these places was pretty cheap and I needed to save my days on the ticket for later. From there I took a bus and got to the Kintai bridge around 9:15 or so. The bridge is really cool! The big wooden arches look beautiful against the river. It’s actually really hard to walk across, because the steps get bigger and smaller and all blend into each other.

Iwakuni itself was absolutely beautiful! I was there just on the verge of the cherry blossoms opening, so I didn’t get to see them in all their glory. But the half-opened buds were still pretty. The gardens are large and peaceful, particularly so because early in the morning there was hardly anyone there. I walked around for a little, feeling very calm and at ease in my surroundings.

I took the tiny lift up that brought us to a forest walkway and the castle on the top of the mountain. The top of the castle looks out over the bridge, river, and town. I walked around the castle a little bit and ate some breakfast sitting at one of the little stone picnic tables.

Instead of putting effort into figuring out the return buses to Iwakuni station, I just walked about fifteen minutes to a tiny closer station that was oddly positioned on the top of steep hill. I got the 10:50 and arrived in at Miyajimaguchi station at 11:33. I wasn’t sure if I would have to wait long in line for the ferry but since Miyajima is such a popular destination the ferries are huge and run every ten or fifteen minutes. I just bought my ticket and walked on! Easier than catching any bus I’ve ever caught, haha. I got there at the perfect time to see Itsukushima shrine at high tide, around 12:30!

I walked around taking pictures, offering to take pictures of other people, and asking people to take pictures of me. At one point I was taking a picture of something and an older man came up to me and told me I was in the wrong spot to take pictures and that he had a better spot to take pictures from. So he brought me over to another area and took my picture, which is the photo below.

I wandered around a bit up towards the gardens where I found a nice little spot by the river to eat the food I brought. I didn’t realize Miyajima had so many deer, but there were a bunch winding their way around tourists and looking for food. As I was eating a deer came up to me and started nudging me trying to get food, but all I had left was a banana. I wasn’t sure if deer like banana but I broke off a piece and held it out, which the deer picked up and then dropped on the ground. So there was my answer.

I wandered up through the trees and ended up at the lift to the top of Mount Misen. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go all way to the top but I figured it was a good way to spend the afternoon. There’s two lifts, the first is like a ski lift but much smaller and the second was a standing lift with windows all around that lets you see the mountains and sea as it ascends.

At the top of the lift it was a half hour climb to the very top of the mountain. The climb itself wasn’t difficult but a little tricky because of the uneven ground and trying to pass people in tight spaces as they came down the mountain. There’s an observation building at the top that I hung out for in a bit, sitting on big raised platform on the first level contemplating a nap. Afterwards when I made my way back down to the lift I was really tired, partly because of the climb but mostly from not sleeping. I had planned to walk down but I realized that although it was doable it would take almost two hours and I decided to just take the lift back.

When I reached the bottom it was around 5:00 and I searched around to find somewhere to eat. Sadly this is apparently the time when everything is closed, but I found an open Okonomiyaki shop that looked good. I’d like to say I loved the okonomiyaki but it pales in comparison to the night before. But, all in all, a nice restaurant and a nice break from the day.

I took the ferry and then the train back to Hiroshima station, getting back to my hostel around 8:00. I attempted some studying which did not go well, and finally went to bed.

 

Adventure 18 Day Two | Bunny Mania

Monday

Left the hostel in the morning and headed to the station.

9:07 am – Depart from Hayashima -> 9:19 Arrive at Okayama station

9:31  – Depart from Okayama -> 11:09 Arrive Mihara station (Rush out of the station to put my luggage in a locker)

11:21 – Depart Mihara station -> 11:44 Arrive Tadanoumi

12:30 – Take the ferry from Tadanoumi port to Okunoshima

Proceed to live out bunny heaven.

Bunny island is a lot of fun and lived up to my expectations. Do be fair, my expectations were a little lower after experiencing the deer in Nara, which are like aggressive squirrels in larger form. The bunnies on the island looked really healthy and were very gentle when approaching and taking food. They were got a little aggressive with each other, dive-bombing and pushing each other out of the way, but overall pleasant interactions all-around. I walked around the island a bit, ate my lunch outside, and hid under a tree when it rained for a bit.

IMG_2822[1]IMG_2821[1]

Some tips for bunny island

  • There is nowhere on the island to buy rabbit food, but you can buy some at Tadanoumi port.
  • The best thing to bring, however, is fresh cabbage or lettuce. I got some bagged greens at the Family Mart near Tadanoumi station which was good, but I discovered there is a small grocery store a block away that has actual heads of fresh cabbage.
  • There is luggage storage at Tadanoumi port for 500 yen.
  • Get in line early for the ferry. I think everyone in line with me got on the ferry but since the ferry is not so frequent it’s best to be safe.

4:13 pm – Take the ferry back to Tadanoumi

5:15 – Depart Tadanoumi station -> 5:40 arrive Mihara

5:52 – Depart Mihara -> 7:09 pm arrive Hiroshima! (And walk to my hostel)

I checked in and met the owner, a really nice guy named Masa. I wanted to try Hiroshima okonomiyaki, which has lots of cabbage and noodles added. I asked him about okonomi-mura which is a big building full of okonomiyaki restaurants. He told me he had a better place and gave me a recommendation for Koshida (お好み焼き越田).  I made my way over there and waited in line for a bit before I got seated. The staff was great and the food was even better. I get why this style of okonomiyaki is popular, the noodles and cabbage give it a nicer texture and another layer of flavour.