This month, I had an opportunity to take a trip to see some of Japan I had yet to travel to – Hiroshima, Iwakuni, and Miyajima. The weather was promising and I was eager to see some mountains and get out of the flat farming land in my prefecture. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, aside from what I’d seen in pictures. So with excitement, I packed my bag and hopped on a plane from Tokyo to Hiroshima.
I landed quite early in the morning and was immediately taken in by how green everything was! The views were breathtaking on the bus ride from Hiroshima International Airport to the Bus Center in the city and I enjoyed the trip very much. Additionally, the assistance I received from the Information Desk about the appropriate bus ticket to buy was very helpful which made buying the ticket easy and fast.
My time in Hiroshima was spent walking from the south end of the river, wandering the path toward the A-Bomb Dome, and stopping to read the various signs speaking to the monuments created in remembrance of those lost in the destruction of the Atomic Bomb. Once I arrived in the Peace Park, I took the time to sit and take in the sight of all those who have come to view the various aspects of the park. While I felt a great sadness about the reality of why the park exists, I was given a wonderful gift. My greatest delight was when I was taken in by a group of junior high school students who were there to dedicate their 1,000 paper cranes, sing a song, and recite their dedication to remember Sadako and all the children who died the day of and in the aftermath of the bombing. Having read about it when I was about the same age as Sadako, her story had made a deep impression on me. Meeting these kids and watching their ceremony was the most memorable part of my time in Hiroshima. If you are lucky enough to be there when there are groups from local schools, take the time to sit, watch, and listen.
After a lovely time at the Children’s Peace Monument, I walked in the opposite direction to the Eternal Flame before heading north, ringing the Peace Bell, and standing across from and walking by the A-Bomb Dome. When I stood in the shadow of this broken building, I had the same feeling I tend to get when I’m standing in a spot of great historical significance; a sense of the surreal, as well as immense gravity.
After my journey through the park, I set my sights on the food and a couple areas beyond the river. There was a delicious gelato stand near the Inari Bridge which is part of an Italian restaurant called Caffe Ponte, after which I found my way over to the Hiroshima Castle. It was rebuilt (not in entirety) many years after WWII. Much of the grounds reminded me of a graveyard because although there were many places where buildings used to be, the only thing to mark their former placement were foundation stones. The castle itself is lovely and I arrived after hours, so while I wasn’t able to go inside, I had a nice walk around the grounds.
Spending many hours walking around the city, I got very hungry, naturally! I knew that I wanted to try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki so I looked on TripAdvisor to find out where I should go. It just so happened that the number one reviewed restaurant in Hiroshima was Nagata-ya. Claimed as the best in Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, they did not disappoint. The people who work there were very nice, the nama (draft beer) was cold, and the food was delicious. I had the deluxe and I would eat it every week if I lived there.
Although the reason I was visiting Hiroshima was for historical significance, I was surprised and delighted that it wasn’t a city to know only because of its history, but also as a modern, beautiful, vibrant, and friendly city. I wish I had more time to explore the city streets and see what more I could discover. I recommend that sometime in the not too distant future, you take a weekend off and visit this wonderful city. Walk, meditate, eat, and take in all that this city has to offer.