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Published: July 15th 2010
preserved as it would have looked right after the bomb dropped
Our first trip was on the legendary bullet train, we headed off from Tokyo to Hiroshima. We booked the train without drama smilling and nodding like demented back seat dogs there was, one change on the way at Osaka. The trains all run very smoothly and efficeintly and beofre we are allowed on the train an army of cleaners board the train to get it ready. We set off and the countryside soon opens up as we head out of the city. It is a very lush and green, with houses that seem to grow straight out of the paddy fields looking as though they are unwelcomed. When the guards enter the carriage (well any staff member actually) they first bow to the carriage, as they ask for your ticket they bow and as they leave the carriage they bow. You can feel the respect that the Japanese people have for each other and also for themselves, I cant imagine that happening on a BR train!!!
As we left some of our larger bags in Tokyo we are travelling light which is a welcome change, so when we arrive in Hiroshima we decide to just get on a tram rather
than take a taxi. I have an idea that the hotel we booked is close to the peace gardens so we head in that direction. Once again there is not much English around but we manage to find our way and walk through the site where the Atomic Bomb actually exploded. There is the A Dome standing as it stood immediately after the bomb detonated 590m above. All the pictures and descriptions around the park tell a horrific story We can not understand how the bomb could have been used in this way when clearly so many innocent people would be destroyed. The A dome itself is amazing and has been preserved exactly as it looked when the bomb hit, it is only because the bomb detomated directly above this building that any of it managed to survive as all around it the cty was levelled to the floor, at ground zero the heat was 4000 degrees. Would the devastating power of this weapon demonstrated in an unpopulated area within Japan have sent a clear enough message?? Of course the bomb was used on 2 cities and then there was the surrender.
As we are walking thorugh the park
by the river I spot our hotel so we head off and get settled in, it is a great location and we both really like Horishima which has a young and vibrant feel to it. Even though we can not understand any of the signs we are seeing we immeditely feel part of the city and enjoy exploring all the streets. We end up going to a restaurant where the only English is on a blackboard saying "dinner menu" the waiters dont speak English and dont even understand when we ask for a sprite, oh well its all part of the fun. We just say give us something for two and the wiater asks if we want this traditional Japanese dish okonomiyaki which I recognise the name of from a guide book, so we have that and it is a mixture of pancake, cabbage, beansprouts, bacon and egg all fried on a gridle and served with a sticky sauce. It is really nice but one would have fed both of us and we leave stuffed.
Our second day in Hiroshima is wet, this is not a problem as we both feel a welcome break from the heat we have
been experiening on our travels around Asia, we do however have to go and buy a new raincoat as we only have one. We go into one shop and look at a jacket which we are about to buy as we think it is a bargain at $10, just as we are about to get it I realise it is not $10 but $100 so we forget that one and I get a see through poncho for about $8 instead. We walk to the train station today and jump on a train heading for Mirajima Island. This is quite an easy journey and a short ferry ride takes us over to the Island where we immediately see loads of wild deer that are feeding on some branches that are being chopped down by the port area.
We stroll through the traditionlal houses that now sell all kinds of art and handicrafts, I buy some stickers for my guitar and Shenton weirdly manages to guess what is on them (even thought he didn't come into the shop) a cat waving his arm.....spooky. We try a japanese bun which has a filling of eel whcih is actually quite nice and then
continue round the Island towards the temple which at high tide appears to float on the water. From here you get a great view of the gate which sits in the bay at the entrance to the temple.
As we walk on we see a sign which says 2.5km up to Mount Mesen and Shenton looks at me and I realise that we are now going to climb up Mount Mesen. I protest a little bit but know that we will be doing this (even though it is chucking it down) It is actually is really good and the walk up passes many shrines and temples and as it is raining (and the cable car is not running either) there is hardly any other people walking up which is cool. The walk up is not too bad, lots of steps, the rain makes it a bit harder but we get to the top and are rewarded by seeing another temple where there is a monk busy chanting. Also there is a fire at a shrine which has been lit for the last 1200 years and was used to light the fire at the peace memorial gardens. A little further
and we make it to the top but it is so cloudy and wet that we cant actually see anything. We are now also wet through so we head back down pretty quickly and as we start the trip down the clouds lift and we do mange to get a great view over the Island and back to the mainland.
We head back into town and try to find somewhere to eat, we are pretty much limited to places that have pictures as we dont seem to be able to find any English menus, we see lots of restaurants that look great but we just would not have a clue about what we are ordering so we stick to noodles in a chain restaurant that has pictures, not the best thing we have eaten but still ok.
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