We got up early to catch our next bullet train, our destination; Hiroshima. Visiting a place that is famous internationally as being the first city to be targeted by a atom bomb does leave you feeling somewhat somber. After dropping our bags off at our hotel, we started our own walking tour of the city, taking in the numerous bridges and small parks on our way to the Atomic Bomb Memorial Museum and Peace Park. The museum really is worth it; despite the inevitable horrific pictures and heart breaking stories told, it is an educational experience and a stark reminder of the cruelty of war. The Museum takes a couple of hours to walk around with the audio guide and afterwards, you can look around the monuments in the Peace Park.
We marvelled at the thousands of paper cranes that are sent in from all over the world to symbolise peace – something that the world needs more of even to the present day.
The gardens back onto the river and we sat having some snacks overlooking the eerie beauty of the A-bomb dome building. It was above this building that the A- bomb dropped, yet surprisingly this building remained intact and serves of a visual reminder of the cities history.We continued our walking tour to take in Hiroshima Castle, but after about 20km of solid walking and worn out feet we only viewed it from the outside before making our way back to our hotel for a soak in the Onsen.
The next morning, we ventured to Miyajima Island. A short train and ferry ride (free with your JR pass) takes you to a lovely island, although a busy one! Famous for the “floating” Torii gate, it is a small mountainous island with tame deer that wander through the streets. The island has a holy status and years ago people were only allowed to approach the shrine through the floating gate by boat.
Being one of the most photographed attractions in Japan, we decided to escape the crowds and the heat of the sun and started the climb up the highest mountain to a viewpoint. After a longer than expected climb, several pagodas and shrines later and dripping in sweat, we arrived to take in the somewhat hazy view and enjoy some nibbles we had brought with us.
Needless to say the descent was a little more enjoyable! Back in the town, we got an amazing hot cookie stuffed with ice cream, enjoyed some selfies with the “floating” gait at low tide and sat watching the deer. It was an exhausting day, and after returning to Hiroshima we went for a yummy Indian at “Namaste” before continuing onwards to our next destination – Okayama.