Here is the diary of our few days staying in Hiroshima, Japan. We travelled here from Takayama, and will be heading to Kyoto next. Today was mostly a travel day. The train journey was easy and efficient as usual. We left Takayama at 9.45 and arrived in Hiroshima at three in the afternoon. We had a very short stop at Nagoya (just enough time to get to the next train) and another change at Osaka, enough time to buy some sushi for the final journey.
When we arrived at our hotel in Hiroshima we found out that Rob had messed up the booking and we were expected yesterday. Oops. They had cancelled our booking, but fortunately, there are not many tourists about at the moment and the room was still available. The four of us are sharing three futons on the floor – nice and cosy Japanese style.
We had time for a short walk along the nearby river before a meal of the local speciality pancake Onkonimiaki. There are two versions, Hiroshima style and Osaka style, so we wanted to experience the Hiroshima style. Clare went to the supermarket for some supplies and Rob played games with Olive. She is really enjoying herself in Japan. She said she would like to live here, and particularly enjoys the attention of the super friendly reception staff.
Hiroshima is the only Japanese city to have an extensive tram system (just like the ones in Melbourne) so had a very familiar feel. We caught a tram out to Peace Park, starting at the dome, the remains of a building left as a memorial of the bombing. The park was filled with memorials, Olive particularly enjoyed the children’s memorial with thousands of origami paper cranes. We took turns going through the confronting museum, parts of which were not suitable for young minds.
From the park we walked to the interesting Hiroshima Castle which had to be rebuilt after the bombing. The highlight was Olive being dressed up in a kimono and rob had a go at the samurai suit. We continued our long day of walking back into the town, did some shopping and caught the tram back to the hotel.
Luckily we are staying on the night of the free sake tasting, but unfortunately, Clare was not able to try too much. The also made some local dishes to eat, and Clare had a go at making okonomiyaki and did quite a good job at it. It was also a great chance to chat with a few other travellers, and discuss our Japan trip and previous travels we have done. Out was a later night than usual, not ideal as we do not get to sleep in.
Today was a visit to Miyajima Island, a 30-minute train ride and ferry away. We arrived on the island just after high tide, which is ideal for seeing the famous view of the torii gate that appears to be floating on the water. The is not much else to see on the island except for the deer that roam freely throughout the town. It was very exciting for olive to see Bambi, she had never seen deer before. We were also very fortunate to see a wedding couple at the main temple, with the bride all dressed up in traditional dress, very pretty and colourful.
Back in town Clare and Jetson had a rare afternoon sleep before we walked to the station area for another local dish, noodles and cold dipping soup. It was yummy as well as a great source of vegetables which we do not seem to get enough of here. Fortunately, they provided all of us with bibs which were needed. This is our last night in Hiroshima, we are off to Kyoto via Himeji castle tomorrow. This has been another great hostel, with the staff very friendly and helpful. We highly recommend j-hoppers.
Himeji Castle and Zoo
We were leaving Hiroshima today after a whirlwind two days here. Time to get to Kyoto for the highlights of the trip, but first a stopover in Himeji to see their famous castle. The first direct train to Himeji castle was not until 9.45am, but we needed all that time to pack and get ready. It was only an hour our so to Himeji, a short trip compared to our previous train journeys in Japan. We read that it was a small town, but it did not appear that way to us when we arrived. It is all relative, and compared to a city like Tokyo it may be labelled small.
Clare is starting to feel a bit fatigued after lots of recent walking and a growing belly, so we tried to take it a bit easier for her today. We were able to put our luggage into lockers at the train station before having a lonely planet recommended noodle meal. It was our first experience of having to use a vending machine to make our order, and we nearly walked out as it was very daunting at first and difficult to decipher – we only decided to stay and try it when the owner came out and explained what each of the items was.
We walked the ten-minute road up to the castle, then it was a few more minutes walking through the outer parts of the castle to the main”keep” which unfortunately is under renovation and is completely covered up. We all took the elevator to the top for the view, then just Rob had a look inside. We could not leave the area without taking the kids through the nearby zoo, while Clare rested. The first animals we saw were some kangaroos. The Japanese seem to have a fascination with Australian animals. Out was an interesting zoo, with quite a few animals but with most of them in depressing concrete cages and not much room to move around. It was good to see some flamingos, polar bears, brown bears and ostriches which we do not see at home.
Another hour on a fast train got us to our final main destination in Japan, Kyoto. We are looking forward to starting of exploration of Kyoto tomorrow as we have only heard good things about it.