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Published: December 31st 2019
Sunday, 23rd June 2019
So here I am back to the Land of Rising Sun - this time flying straight into Hiroshima Airport. I curated this trip to explore the Sanyo-Sanin Coast between Hakata and Himeji as far as the Shinkansen could bring me over the course of a week.
My Silkair flight departed in the wee hours on Sunday, 23rd June 2019. Frankly, I wasn't expecting too much into this flight given that it used the single-aisle A320 series. I had paid about $600 for the tickets. The price was okay - nothing too unreasonable for the 7-hour journey. There was a 30kg luggage allowance and breakfast was served prior to landing. I managed to grab some sleep on my comfortable emergency row seat even though it did not allow for a reclining position.
After touching down at Hiroshima Airport on Sunday morning, I parted 1,340 Yen for a limousine bus ticket that would bring me straight to JR Hiroshima Station in about 45 minutes. From my previous visit in 2013, the station had undergone a massive face-lift. The signages were noticeably brighter and bigger and the crowds along the level 2 linkway between the north and
south exits were somewhat overwhelming.
Before continuing my journey to Kitakyushu (Kokura) where I would be based, I stopped for a serving of Ippudo Ramen at the train station shopping arcade. Getting to Kokura was a breeze thanks to the Shinkansen that did the trick in 46 minutes. And it was great that my Sanyo Sanin Pass allowed me to board the Nozomi trains as well. This was the fastest available service along the Sanyo-Sanin Shinkansen.
For my three nights stay in the city of Kokura, I chose APA Hotel that was about 5 minutes walk south of the Shinkansen Station. Since I had arrived before the standard check-in time of 3pm, I left my luggage with the hotel before exploring around the city. I'm always curious about the Japanese toilet brand, "Toto" and it was nice that a free museum was created within the city centre. The staffs at Toto Museum were extremely helpful with non-Japanese speakers like me. As soon as I arrived, they passed me an English audio guide to complement my visit. There were quite a bit of interesting items on display including the first toilet bowl in Japan as well as a mock-up
hotel room toilet used during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
After emerging from the museum, I had a quick bite at Royal Host along the same street before heading back to my hotel room. In the evening, I spent some time exploring the main shopping streets within downtown Kokura before dinner at Yomenya Goemon. Kokura that welcomed me this afternoon was much quieter than her Hakata counterparts and it made a good alternative base to explore the south-western regions of Japan given its good transportation links.
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