Published: April 5th 2012March 26th 2012
M – At 8am on August 5th
1945 the world’s first Atomic Bomb was detonated 600m over the center of Hiroshima. It destroyed virtually every building within a 3km radius. The blast and the illnesses causes by radiation have killed more than 300,000 people, effectively the whole of the city. Apart from the memorials and the museums, to visit Hiroshima today you would not believe these facts. The city is a modern bustling city and the people are as friendly to a visitor as anyone we have encountered on our travels. However the museum and the memorials are a pretty sobering reminder of how destructive man can be. Apparently our modern day weapons are more than 3,000 more powerful than the first Atomic Bomb. The genie is certainly out of the bottle on nuclear weapons but I am not sure where I sit re non-proliferation. Do countries that already have such weapons really have the right to stop others building their own? I don't know and this blog is not a forum for this debate.
Japan has no nuclear weapons and the Mayor of Hiroshima writes protest letters to the appropriate head of state every time a country tests their
nuclear weapons. Anyone who has visits Hiroshima will be moved by the museum and the memorials but at the same time they will find lively city to enjoy and people who will welcome them. If you get the chance, go to a Okonomiyaki restaurant to try a Hiroshima specialty of pancake filled with noodles, bacon, cabbage, egg and more. Better still if you sit with a goup of locals to enjoy your meal.
20 minutes south of Hiroshima lies the island of Miyajima. Miyajima Island is accessible by a 10 minute ferry ride and ferries run every few minutes. On the island are is the floating temple and a number of other temples and shrines. There is also a cable to the peak of the island (we didn’t have the time to take this). A trip to the island makes for a relaxing morning strolling around the temples if you get there ahead of the tourist masses who arrive after 9am. We were there at 8.15am and had most of the temples to ourselves. By 10.40am we were on our way back to the mainland to catch our trains north and east through Honshu Province and then west to
the Western side of Kansai Province. Our destination was onsen town of Kinosaki.
Kinosaki is famous for its ryokans, onsens and when in season great crab. A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inns where you sleep in screened, tatami mat rooms on futons instead of western style beds. They have these all over Japan but this was to be our first experience. An Onsen is a Japanese hot bath and spa. These are usually single sex and everyone bathes naked. Most have both indoor and outdoor facilities and the water temperature can vary but all are very hot. In addition to the private baths at many of the ryokans, Kinosaki has 7 public baths to which anyone can pay a fee and enter. What really makes it different though is that all the bathers wander through the streets from onsen to onsen in their yukata (bath robes) and geta (wooden slippers). This can make for an interesting sight and noise!
Most of the baths are open from 7am to 11pm and it is common to get a pass that allows you to wander from bath to bath at will. Our Ryokan included this in the price for the
duration of our check-in (i.e. it expires in the morning when you are due to check out). I can thoroughly recommend a couple of nights stay in Kinosaki. In our 44 hours in town we managed to take 17 onsens/baths between us including all 6 of the public onsens that were open, some more than once. They have scales in all the onsens and much to my own delight I managed to drop 8 lbs in weight! A word of warning though, dining out in your yukata does take a little getting used to but once you are comfortable with this a trip to the local bank to change some money is no problem at all! Scroll down to enjoy the photos.
There are more photos below