28 Jul 2015

Japan Flashback! Part 3: Hiroshima

It's time to continue the recount of my adventures in Japan! If you missed the first parts, go and have a look at Part 1 and Part 2!

Day 6: Travelling & Okonomiyaki

Most of our sixth day was spent on a shinkansen (bullet train), which was such a welcome relief as I was still feeling ill and my ankles had started to swell from the excessive amount of walking we'd done. We bought eki-bens (station lunches) before we left, and we all had a pretty chill time. I actually managed to have a nap somewhere along the way. Either that or I just passed out, I'm not sure.

In Hiroshima we were actually staying in a proper hotel with proper beds and individual bathrooms, which were definitely luxuries we'd taken for granted prior to staying in the hostel in Tokyo. We also had a TV in the room, so after arriving and been given time to rest, we tried to make sense of some of the Japanese television. It ended up being quite funny to just make up our own stories as we watched.

As it got dark, we went for a walk to the shopping district and had an explore. We also went to one to the fabled photo-booths, the effects of which are as scary as you've heard.

To end the day, we were all instructed to find Okonomiyaki places for dinner as we were going to a class to learn how to cook it the next morning. Okonomiyaki is basically a savoury thin pancake piled with cabbage and other toppings and fried. They are literally the size of a dinner plate and are so filling that I only managed to finish half of one.

Day 7: Cooking and Miyajima (宮島)

The next morning I slept in a little (whoops, a comfy bed will do that to you), and didn't have time for breakfast. But if there was any day to skip it, it was this day, because our first item on the agenda was our Okonomiyaki cooking class.

It was quite fun to try getting your pancake as perfect as possible and watching everybody else's attempts around you at the same time. We all sat down to eat our creations when we were done, and despite not having eaten, I STILL couldn't finish it. Seriously if you ever embark on eating okonomiyaki, make sure you take enough mouths to feed.

Progress shot!

After our strange sort-of-brunch, we got on our bus to get the ferry to Miyajima (宮島). Miyajima (also known as Itsukushima) literally translates as 'shrine island', and it's absolutely beautiful. You've probably seen a stack of photos of it around the place (yes, it's the one with the floating gate), and I can say that if you've ever thought of visiting, it's well worth it.

The tide was out during our visit, but the seaweed-covered banks were still beautiful, and we actually got to walk out and under the shrine gate, so it was probably better that it wasn't flooded with water. The view of the hills surrounding us were also absolutely gorgeous.

It was another day of walking, but it felt worth it (despite the perpetual sinus headache I remember having at this point). We walked all around the shrines, temples, shores and little shops, ate ice-cream and hung out with some of the famous deer.

After getting back to the hotel, we (and by we I mostly mean my history teacher who was accompanying us) made the last minute decision to go to a nearby baseball game. Baseball is a pretty big deal in Japan, so it was an interesting atmosphere to be in. I'm not a big sports person, so this was just about the first sporting match I'd ever been to in my life. As far as firsts go, baseball with your friends isn't bad at all.

Day 8: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Leaving for Osaka

Day 8 was a day that I will remember for as long as I live because it was such a impacting experience. We caught the streetcar to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and the first thing we saw was the A-Bomb dome. They had signs posted around it giving historical background, which was a good place to start before actually entering the Peace Memorial Museum.

I took a few photos inside the museum, but I've decided not to share them here. The museum really drove home the devastation, suffering and loss of life that was experienced after the dropping of the bomb and many years afterward. I think it's really something you have to experience as a whole yourself.

Afterwards we walked around to the memorial itself and to where some school children were gathered on a visit, speaking and learning about the history of Hiroshima and it's bid for world peace. It was a strange thing, to see the destruction that was caused by humanity alongside the good-heartedness of these people that live with this history. It really makes you hope that we can progress and make the world a truly better place.

Straight after visiting the Peace Memorial Park, we were off on another shinkansen to Osaka!

Hiroshima is my personal favourite city that I visited in Japan. It has such a rich history and a sense of openness and calm that was refreshing after the overwhelming mass that was Tokyo. Visiting Miyajima also definitely played a part. I've made it a goal to return at some point in my life.

I hope you enjoyed this chapter of my adventures! See you next time!


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