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Published: April 22nd 2018
The city of Hiroshima makes a welcoming host. Our hotel is attached to the central station, which we’ve come to find is a boon in most places in Japan - easy access from our arrival train to your room and a convenient hub for local transit. From here, three bus routes circle the places you’d most like to check out. The one-day pass is cheapy-cheapy, and the service shames the hop-on-hop-off brand (not even available here) with their frequency.
Hiroshima has a castle, akin to the Matsumoto and Kanazawa versions we’ve enjoyed. Numerous museums of art, walking trails, a shrine on a hill with a roof that sticks out
above the trees like a centurion hat - I imagine a giant guy kneeling under the trees ready to rise at a moment’s notice.
The city is green. Boulevards, trees, gardens, parks. Maybe the most treed city we’ve seen, which we increasingly appreciate.
Miyajima Island is a treasure. A day trip via train and ferry bring you to the island that was once considered so sacred that ordinary people were forbidden to set foot on it; instead, worshippers approached by boat through the great torii (gate) set out
in the water. The gate is flooded at high tide, dry at low. The shrine on the shore that reaches on stilts out towards the torii dates back to the year 554. At night lanterns are lit as an offering by the faithful and set free to float along the shoreline - or can be prearranged en masse for a fee.
The tiny free-range deer are considered messengers of kami (which to my understanding are almost animistic dieties from the sky and nature). Tourists love that they walk up to people nonchalantly and then mosey on. A beautiful location, a sunny hot day and a gentle (though people-swarmed) location to breath out and relax.
Back in the world of practicalities, the laundromats here are great - meticulously clean and always seem to have machines available. Most are wash & dry, so you pop in your clothes with no added soap, add your coins and come back in two hours and your gear ready to wear. It was a big deal to think of this as our last load before home.
Our grand girls are getting excited at our imminent return. Emma was given a Hello Kitty as
a newborn and it is still her most beloved stuffy. We got the idea that a straight-from-Japan version perhaps with local dress would be a good momento and the hunt began. We sought out at least six specific stores that might have had them - no luck.
One potential store was recommended by a young guy from Thailand whom we met in Kobe, who loves Japan, goes to every museum he can find and has gone to the outermost reaches of the country repeatedly; he suggested Don Quijote in Hiroshima. A four-story, jam-packed Asian version of Giant Tiger - great fun roaming the aisles, but no finds. When we had written off the idea, we eventually found our kimono-wearing kittens in a tourist store on Miyajima. Three weeks and it came down to the last stop on the last day.
Our flight out of Hiroshima ended our Japan journey with a sense that our three weeks were all sorts of things - well-spent, educational, humbling, perfunctory, inspiring. Will write a little wind-up piece to capture our thoughts. Digestion needed.
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