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Published: September 24th 2014
We arrived in Hiroshima at about 10am which was just over two hours after we left Kyoto. We dropped our bags off at our hotel and set off on foot towards the Atomic Bomb Dome.
It took us about half an hour to walk to the dome from our hotel. Along the way we passed heaps of shopping malls and restaurants. The dome is located in the middle of Hiroshima and a lovely park with memorials and a museum have been constructed around it.
I always find it strange seeing sites in person that I have seen in books or on TV my whole life and the A-Bomb Dome was no different. I think it was slightly smaller than I expected. A number of signs have been erected around the building which is fenced off from the public. Apparently in the years following the bombing there were a lot of different opinions about what should happen to the Dome; whether it should be demolished (like most of the other buildings that weren’t completely destroyed by the initial blast or subsequent fire) or preserved. Fortunately they chose the latter, and it has now been listed as a UNESCO world heritage
site in recognition of the first time a nuclear weapon was used against humans.
After walking around and taking photos of the Dome we made our way into the cool of the Peace Memorial Museum which is about a 5 minute walk through the Peace Memorial Park from the A-Bomb Dome.
Unfortunately about half of the museum was closed for renovations in time for the 70th
anniversary of the bombing. However, some of the exhibits had been relocated to the areas of the museum which were open so we still got to see the majority of the exhibits.
We each got an audio guide for the museum when we arrived which turned out to be a good investment. The guide had a lot more information that the signs throughout and we were able to listen to the information on the exhibits which we weren’t able to see.
The museum was well done and very informative. It covered why Japan was at war (and didn’t try and cover up that Japan was the aggressor), the lead up to the bombing, the initial blast, the subsequent fire, the victims (including those who died days, months and years later),
the aftermath for the survivors and the reconstruction as well as Hiroshima’s efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. There were a lot of personal stories throughout which conveyed the human impact well including stories about kids searching for parents or remains of parents or parents searching for their kids or remains Sometimes all that they ended up finding was a charred lunchbox or a shoe…or often nothing at all.
After the museum we headed off to buy some lunch which we bought back to the park to eat (this time with chopsticks – no more eating potato salad with my fingers!).
After lunch we went to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial for the Atomic Bomb Victims which was a nice building within the Peace Memorial Park. The main exhibit was a large circular room with a mural on the walls made with 140,000 tiles (representative of the estimate number of victims of the Hiroshima bombing) and a central fountain in the shape of a watch with the hands showing 8:15 (the time the bomb was dropped). In the next room was a wall displaying pictures of the victims. The third room was a temporary exhibit with a video playing
Scale model of Hiroshima after the bomb
Red ball is the size of the initial fire ball
stories of child survivors of the bombing. A lot of the stories were collected in the 50’s and it was apparently pretty controversial at the time. The stories were, as you would expect, horrific but I think it was a good thing someone thought to capture the memories.
After we were done in the second museum we caught the tram back to our hotel as it was quite warm. Once we had checked in and got our room we relaxed there for a while (I finished the Kyoto blog while Scott researched dinner options).
For dinner we ventured out to Okonomi-mura which has 3 floors of different restaurants all offering okonomiyaki. It was incredibly weird walking in and being surrounded by Australians – apparently it is popular with school groups and tour groups visiting from overseas. We managed to find one stall with only Japanese patrons and grabbed some seats. Fortunately they had an English menu so we were able to order without a problem.
The following morning we headed off to Miyajima. Miyajima is about a 25minute train ride, 5 minute walk and 10 minute ferry from Hiroshima. It’s a small island which is apparently one
of Japans most visited tourist attractions all because of the ‘floating’ torii out in the bay.
At high tide the torii is surrounded by water, but at low tide you can walk out and touch it. We decided to visit at high tide as the view was slightly more impressive. Seems everyone else had the same idea as the island was incredibly busy! I think it was a little over rated, but it was nice to be by the sea.
After viewing the torii we walked around the island patting deer and watching them sneak up on tourists, who were preoccupied with taking photos, and try to steal food from their bags. After a few hours we decided it was time to head back to Hiroshima.
We had a lazy afternoon in our room reading, researching restaurants in Osaka and relaxing before heading out for dinner. For dinner we had decided to try a Vietnamese restaurant near the Dome. When we arrived it turned out they didn’t have an English menu so we guessed what a few dishes were and ordered from the picture menu. The ‘cashew chicken’ we had selected was actually sweet and sour chicken
with cashews and was pretty average. The curry was slightly nicer but not very Vietnamese. I managed to choose a cocktail which tasted like a glass of weirdly sweet fruity flavoured milk…interesting.
After dinner we walked to the Dome to take photos of it at night. It is tastefully lit up after dark and looks quite nice against the city backdrop. After taking photos we headed back home to watch some TV before bed.
Hiroshima was very interesting; the museums in the Peace Memorial Park are something that everyone should see at some stage in their life.
I’m writing this on the train to Osaka which is our last stop in Japan.
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