Day 5 - Hiroshima But Like Really Quickly
We got up early and went straight back to Himeji to follow up about my husband's wallet. Sadly, it didn't turn up (and still hasn't) but I have to say that the Himeji Station staff and the police at the koban across from Himeji Station are all very friendly and kind.
From there, we went to Hiroshima, but I was so flustered that I put us on the wrong train somehow and it took all. freaking. day. We got to Hiroshima with juuuust enough time to see the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (an amazing, humbling, experience), the Genbaku dome, and the hypocenter plaque.
Being here as an American may seem touchy, or insensitive. We were a bit leery to come, only because I've head stories of some really harsh treatment of Japanese tourists at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii (innocent tourists getting yelled at for smiling too much, or existing in the wrong spot, or taking photos that seem "too carefree" etc.) I know there's a significant subset of Americans who can be snappy and judgy about Japanese tourism to the site, which I find pretty reprehensible, as all historical sites have significance, and none of these sites glorify violence. So i was worried there may be a certain type of Japanese patriot who might find us being there inappopriate.
Luckily, this was not the case. I found that visiting here as an American was not an issue in the slightest. We did our best to be quiet and respectful, to give each exhibit proper attention, and to let Japanese visitors have the right of way when trying to see a crowded section, but other tourists were not doing the same, and we were all treated just as well. The Peace Museum takes strides to let not just America, but the entire would know that they are watching, they have not forgotten, and that peace and understanding is what it will take to end atomic warfare. You are exposed to some of the worst, most heart-wrenching content and historical artifacts you'll ever see, but it's important and worthwhile to do so. You leave feeling a lot more humbled and quiet by how this steadfast community managed to reclaim and rebuild their home into a place that is very much alive, thriving, and inspiring.
My history buff husband has a deep fear of atomic bombs and I've always been fascinated with both Japan and the stories surrounding the bomb, so being in Hiroshima was equal parts upsetting and fascinating. I hate that my entry for this city focuses only on its tragedy, though. I want to add that while making our way to the area, we caught sight of tons of bustling shopping and restuarant locations, and some great views!
We also received tickets from a fellow traveler that would have allowed us to check out Orizuru Tower for a view of the sprawling city and the just off-shore island of Miyajima. Speaking of...
Day 6 - Miyajima Island and onward to Kyoto
We got up early and left our traditional homestay Airbnb in the Aki ward via this really cool Sky Rail!! It was just local transit, not a tourist attraction, but was a lovely experience (and incredibly cheap). Once we reached Hiroshima proper, we hopped on the JR ferry to Miyajima Island. If you haven't heard of it, Itsukushima, popularly known as Miyajima ("Shrine Island") is just off the coast of Hiroshima. The shrines and forest on the island are UNESCO world heritage sites, and world-famous! It's also a religiously and culturally important place for many Japanese buddhists and shinto practitioners.
We messed up at this point and took some Dramamine, thinking the ferry ride would be a rougher and longer than the easy 20 minutes it was, which made us EXHAUSTED all day. As soon as we arrived, we realized we'd screwed ourselves, so went to the first restaurant we saw to try and get some food in us to help keep our energy up.
We toured the breathtaking Itsukushima Shrine in a sleepy daze (and got our Momiji cakes stolen by some fearless wandering deer of course) then wandered the Omotesando shopping street before catching the bus to the Miyajima Ropeway up to Mt Misen. It was gorgeous! The views up here inspired us to make the Seto Inland sea region the focus of our next trip to Japan.
We didn't anticipate the walk to the Sanki Gongen Do, the mountaintop shrine, being so hard, but we were already beaten down from the medicine + the hiking we'd done on our trip so far. We stayed on the mountain until the last ropeway cars were leaving, then rode down and went through Momijidani Park at nightfall, which was lit up and lovely with fall colors.
We grabbed some awesome fruity soft serve ice cream (why is it so much better in Japan?!) and then made the trek to Kyoto, where we stayed at a small, house-based hostel in a residential neighborhood.
#Hiroshima #PeaceMuseum #GenbakuDome #ABombDome #OrizuruTower #Miyajima #Itsukushima #FloatingShrine #ItsukushimaShrine #SankiGogenDo #MtMisen #Momijidani #MiyajimaRopeway #Omotesando