We finally found our ‘normal’ city in Hiroshima – and what a lovely city it was. We had booked for 4 days but stayed 12 thanks to a relaxed modern atmosphere and a comfortable AirBnB apartment. Everyone knows Hiroshima for the A bomb during WWII but we weren’t on a pilgrimage to visit the site although we did of course visit the drop area and the museum dedicated to that moment. We both needed some R&R and a break from being tourists…
We picked Hiroshima partly because booking accommodation outside the main cities has two catches, the first is that most websites are in Japanese, the second is that you are most likely to only find Ryokan (local guests houses with futon mattresses). Although it sounds charming, those that we stayed in had hard floor bedding, no seating in the room and a toilet three flights down and hence quickly lost their novelty. Small things, that we take for granted at home, make a huge difference: a comfortable bed, somewhere comfortable to sit and easy access to a variety of food!
So sometimes we book a city based on finding accommodation. Hiroshima came up and very happy it did. The city has a modern vibe although the tall buildings are not as striking as in Tokyo, most I guess were built in the 1950’s after the war.
By now I was craving some western food including salads and veggies also not easy meals to find. Hiroshima surprised with many more western style restaurants, cafes overlooking the river, trendy streets and night life areas. Staying in an apartment, we could take full advantage of shopping and home cooking as well.
Visited the little island just outside town called Miyajima, famous for its wild deer and ‘floating’ temple gate.
On Miyajima, we climbed the mountain – 500 meters high, mostly up 2.5 km of steps, now that was a grind. We were reminded of the climb for the next two days as our legs refused to lift more than three inches above ground.
We spent an afternoon at the location where the A bomb was dropped – 600 metres above the CBD (down town) – and the museum set up in honour of the victims. The building directly below where the bomb went off still stands with the dome frame intact.
The Hiroshimans have done it very well, like most things in Japan it’s tasteful with no message other than world peace, a green park and some nice buildings.
One of the many small differences – our apartment provided 3 different kinds of slipper: regular indoor slippers by the front door where you leave your outdoor shoes, toilet slippers (most definitely not to be worn outside the toilet) and outdoor slippers for the small balcony.
From Hiroshima we planned to travel by bus to Kyushu, the most western / southern island that makes up Japan. From there, in a week’s time, we will make our way to one of the little southern islands near Okinawa. The address of the bus station was on the third floor of an inner city department store, so we assumed, lost in translation, that’s where we had to buy our ticket before going to the station. True, but we weren’t expecting the buses to also be on the third floor next door to the convenience store.