The visit to Hiroshima and Miyajima is a trip which I have planned a month before. The aspiration of visiting these two places is somewhat similar to the Koya-san trip last November. It is also the longest distance trip I will be taking from my place of accommodation to my travel destination. Hiroshima is the last of the top 10 most visited destinations and Miyajima is also the last of the 'best of the best' sight in the main Japan country (excluding the southern islands).
With Hiroshima and Miyajima, I can say I have completed most of Japan main and important sights that a normal traveller will visit in his lifetime.
When I travel, I will normally take buses as the cost of travelling by bus is half that of bullet train. The overnight bus reservation has been made a month in advanced, and the payment completed 3 days before departure. Everything is done via the internet so I do not have to make a trip down to the bus station.
Another special significance about this trip is that I will be travelling entirely alone. So I will be meeting people along the way in my travels.
Getting to Hiroshima
I departed from my accommodations at 9.10pm to catch the 9.25pm bus to Kasugai station. From there is a direct train to Nagoya. It is through this trip that I found out travelling by this route is cheaper than the Nagoya direct bus. It cost 620Yen instead of the normal 680Yen. I got to the station fairly early at 10.20pm. That leaves me with 30 minutes or so to wander around the station.
The bus arrived at 10.50pm. It is a double decker express bus. Total bus journey time is scheduled to be 8 hours and 30mins (2 hours more than the flight time from Singapore to Nagoya).
I am seated on the second floor. It came as a pleasant surprise that there are 3 seats in a row. That will give everyone ample space to rest the night. The air-conditioning can be switch off completely so I will not be afraid of extreme cold in the morning. Thankfully, the lights are also off half an hour into the journey so everyone can have a good rest. The seats can be reclined to almost 140 degrees. Blanket and slippers are also provided. The return bus ride cost 14,800Yen (S$200).
The bus stop 3 times along the way but I don't think anyone got down. I am too sleepy to notice anything. Starting from 6am, passengers started getting off the bus. It arrived at Hiroshima Bus Centre at 7.20am (10 minutes before scheduled time). I am quite surprised that this is not the last stop and I'm one of two passengers getting off here.
After a quick wash-up at the bus station, I am ready to explore Hiroshima and Miyajima.
Getting to Miyajima
The Hiroshima Bus Center is at the Sogo Centre which is somewhat in the middle of Hiroshima. The moment I leave the Sogo Centre, I already know my bearings and where I am to proceed.
The plan is to take the Hiroden (Hiroshima Tram) from Kamiya-West stop to Miyajima-guchi. The journey will take around 50mins and the tram arrives on average every 10minutes. I have done my research online via the japanese Hiroden website.
Here are photos of the tram against the Sogo Centre as the background.
There are both new and old trams plying along the main Hiroshima roads. Let's take a sneak peek into the driver seat and how passengers make payment. Seriously I do not know how they keep track on which station the passengers board the tram. When I and another Japanese traveller board the number 2 tram bound for Miyajima, we were momentarily puzzled that there are no boarding tickets at the entrance. But I know I just have to pay the maximum fare of 270Yen when I reach my destination, so that is not a problem.
Secondly, I was initially planning to get the day free pass to travel to Miyajima, but from the website, it mention the pass can only be purchased from hotels and some bus stations. I saw an advertisement from the tram saying that the free pass can be purchased the tram conductor. There are 3 types of passes: 1) 1 day tram pass[600Yen] 2) 1 day ferry pass[840Yen] 3) 2 day free pass[2000Yen].
I queried the conductor who is standing at the end of the tram on the travel pass and she replied that it can be purchased from her. I just paid for the 2 day free pass. For the trip, I was initially planning to take a cable car up and walk my way down from Mt Misen.
In the end, I came to realise that the 2 day free pass is my best investment ever in Hiroshima.
From here, my adventure to Miyajima will be continued in a separate post. I have limited the number of photos that I should upload for each posting to 40max. And I decide to separate Hiroshima travel and Miyajima travel. So please click on the link below for the Miyajima travel. After reading through the Miyajima travel, please continue below.
I will be spending a night in Hiroshima. As such I made reservations about a month in advance too. I did not actually search extensively for a place to stay. Just opted for one whose price is reasonable and the rooms are pleasant. After reading through a few reviews, I settled for J-Hoppers Hiroshima Hostel. It is less than 5mins walking distance from the Hiroshima Tram stop (Dobashi) and it runs along the line from Miyajima. Here is the J-Hoppers Hiroshima Hostel.
I arrived at the hostel around 9.30pm in the evening. The staff is extremely friendly. I believe they should have no problem conversing with the guests in English, but I choose to speak to them in Japanese. Managed to maintain an entire conversation in Japanese with them from start till the time I checked out.
The hostel is also pleasantly clean. Here is how one of the dormitory room looks like. It can accommodate 8 people. Most of the other guests are not around when I arrived but I am the last to check-in. After a quick washup, I turn off the lights at 10.15pm and have an early rest. It has been a long day: 9 hours of bus ride follow by 14 hours of outdoor walking, I decide to turn in early as I will be leaving the dormitory at 8am tomorrow.
I woke up at 7.30am the next morning. After a quick wash-up, I check-out from the hostel. At the waiting area, I met a Malaysian who is travelling with his family of 4. We have a 10mins chat. He came from Kyushu and is currently studying in Japan.
As I am in a hurry, I have to bid farewell to them.
The Peace Park is only a 5mins walk from the hostel. There are many statues and memorials depicting the horrors of the atomic bomb. Hiroshima is the first city in the world where the atomic bomb has been detonated. It is also the city with the most number of a-bomb casualties. Below is the statue of the Mother and Child in the Storm against the Fountain of Prayer and Peace Memorial Museum.
I arrived at the Peace Memorial Museum at 8.30am, which is just nice the opening time. The entrance fee is only 50Yen, with the optional audio guide of 300Yen. The first floor mention why the atomic bomb is dropped in Hiroshima - World War II. A miniature Hiroshima city showing the before and after the atomic bomb detonation is found at the centre of the museum. Hiroshima is noted for its important military location, as such, it is the chosen site for the a-bomb. The city had never been hit by convention bombs as the Allies wanted to measure the effects of the a-bomb.
Unlike conventional bombs, the most deadly aspect of the atomic bomb is radiation. There are many scenes showing the destructive power of the atomic bomb on human lives in the museum. Stories of how individuals lived through their last days after the detonation were also being told.
At the second floor of the memorial museum, there is a perfect view of the main sights in the peace memorial park. Right in front is the Cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims. In the distance we have the Atomic Bomb Dome.
When I walked to the Cenotaph, I noticed a ceremony is about to take place. They are actually monks from a Shingon sect holding a memorial ceremony for the a-bomb victims.
This is the Children's Peace Monument. The statue of a girl holding a paper crane is at the top. There is actually a story behind this. It is about the child Sadako who was diagnosed with leukemia (the atomic bomb disease). There is a japanese legend that say anyone who folded 1000 paper cranes could be granted a wish. She started folding the paper cranes but passed away before she could complete it. Her classmates continued for her and eventually a monument is built dedicated to Sadako and the children killed by the a-bomb.
At the eastern end of the park is the memorial hall for the a-bomb victims.
The main hall.
Across the river to the other end is the Atomic Bomb Dome. It was originally the Hiroshima Commerical Exhibition building. The atomic bomb exploded slightly above it (600metres). The epicentre is actually at the bridge next to it. Almost all the buildings in Hiroshima were flattened except for this prominent one.
Here is me with the dome as the backdrop.
A lotus in the pond surrounding the Peace Bell.
I walked across from the Peace Park to the Hiroshima Stadium area. Standing in the middle of the street, I took a quick shot of Hiroshima city on a sunday afternoon.
There is something happening at the Hiroshima Stadium. When I was walking around the Peace Park, I already heard the cheers and drums coming from the stadium. It will be nice to watch a game if there are tickets available. At the Peace Museum, it is said the people of Hiroshima turn to baseball for entertainment to get over the horrors of war and the atomic bomb. It is quite depressing reading through the effects of the atomic bombs and the victims, so a baseball game now will be just great.
Tickets are actually being sold at the counter for 500Yen. There are people queuing for it, so I just joined in immediately. Yea! I got the tickets. I noticed the gate is being manned by students. Past the entrance, a game is ongoing.
It is actually a high school baseball competition between Miyajima Technical and Hiroshima Technical. They are all-boys school. I started watching the game at 11.20am. Was initially planning to hang around for 1 hour, but the game is just fascinating, in the end I stayed until 1pm. It was pretty hot, so most of the crowds were hiding under the stadium shade. The match started at 10am and was scheduled to end at 4pm. The morning competition between these two team ended at 1pm.
I have video capture the competition. The best part of the match is watching the people supporting the team. The schools have their own cheerleading team. I really like their cheerleading rhythm. I think the cheerleading team had the most fun, they were dancing around and cheering along. I spent most of the time watching the cheerleading team instead of the game.
The match ended with Hiroshima Technical winning the match 11-4. The two teams bow towards each other.
After the match, I walked northwards towards the direction of Hiroshima castle. This castle has been rebuilt in the last century, so there is nothing special about it. I just took and photo and moved on.
I walked to the Shukkeien Garden. As the day is pretty hot, I decided not to visit the garden. I turn southwards to the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace. The building looks quite intimidating and like all churches/cathedrals worldwide, they are the same and nothing unique. So I gave it a skip and went straight down to the Kanayama-cho tram line. From there I took the tram to the Hijiyama-shite tram stop. It is at this stop where the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and the Manga Museum is located.
Here are some of the art pieces found outdoors.
But the main highlight of this area is actually the Manga museum. There are lots of manga in there, and also lots of people. I can't take a photoshot indoor as there are people at every shelves. I hang around there reading through the comics for half an hour. The comics are all at the second floor of the building. It is not a large as I expected but has most of the main comics.
After the visit to the museum, I went back to the Peace Museum to catch the videos on the atomic bomb. The last airing of the videos are between 4pm till 5.20pm. The weather is awfully hot and I decide not to stay outdoors for long.
Once I have finished viewing the videos, I went to search for Okonomimura (Okonomiyagi village). Hiroshima is famous for its unique style of Okonomiyagi (Japanese Pizza) where noodles are used instead of the traditional vegetables/seafood/meat. The 2nd - 4th floor of Okonomimura has lots of Okonomiyagi shops. I just choose a shop at the 2nd floor where the lady looks very friendly. I tried to avoid sitting close to where they are preparing the okonomiyagi as I'm afraid the bbq scent might stain my shirt.
I went for the soba combi. Here I am savouring the Okonomiyagi. The shop lady is very friendly and helped me took a photo. You will also notice that I am RED. No, it is not caused by the radiation fallout from the bomb or the photos given a tinge of red, but by the intense sun. I have sunburnt!
The temperature for the evening is 34 degrees! I am quite shocked by it, no wonder it seems awfully hot. I believe the afternoon temperature should be between 35-36 degrees.
I went on down to Hiroshima station to check it out. There is nothing much around there. The area seems pretty quiet in the evening. So I went back to the shopping street around Hondori. I visited one of the bookshops and stumble upon this Japanese book by a writer who went to Beijing university for studies. It cost 650Yen only so I just bought it. It is my first attempt at reading Japanese book. Quite surprising, I understand it.
I went back to the peace park to capture the night scene there. Here is the a-bomb dome with its reflection against the river.
I got to the bus station at 9pm and just sat there waiting for the 10pm bus, reading the Japanese book along the way. I noticed some fellow passengers waiting for the bus were also equally red. This shows I am not the only one affected by the intense sun.