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Day 102-104: Hiroshima

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14 March
After checking out and killing some time in reception we were at the train station to take our penultimate train with our JR pass to Hiroshima. The journey, like all of our experiences here, was punctual, quick and fast. A bus ride later and we were at our accommodation for the next 3 nights. Although the idea of sleeping on the floor didn't really appeal to us we had opted to experience a traditional Japanese style room with futons! Upon check in, and again probably due to the lack of business courtesy of our friend Corona, we were upgraded to a family sized private room instead of the semi private double we had picked.

This meant that rather than paper thin walls and no ceiling separating the rooms we had our own little room. So we were excited and thankful again. The thought of the room and the idea of the upgrade sounded a little better in our heads than the reality. But it was still a cute room and would more than do us for our stay here. How the hell you are supposed to fit four of these futons in the room though I'll never know; would be a very tight squeeze! The hostel overall though was good; nice showers/bathrooms, little extras, free toast for breakfast, and a good communal area complete with kitchen (always handy to save a bit of money and cook).

As with most places we used the afternoon to gather food supplies (having found a much better supermarket than the one in Osaka), plan our Hiroshima stay and called/ texted our families and close friends to tell them of the happy news regarding our engagement! Although it was a little exhausting telling everyone and answering the same questions it was lovely how happy everyone was for us especially during such bleak times where happiness is hard to come by it seems. It was fun reliving the day and hearing Izzy speak about it and how it made her feel made me all fuzzy inside. We celebrated with a bottle of wine, some strawberries and a chilli before settling in for the night.


15 March
We both slept ok and it certainly isn't the most uncomfortable bed we have stayed in (Port Barton I'm looking at you), although we did steal the extra topper from the two unused beds for extra padding.We had forgotten about the free breakfast and had woken up too late. Much to Izzy's excitement we therefore opted to get a chocolate croissant from her new favourite café; St Mark's. This place did not let her down and the croissant was heavenly! Again the perfect ratio of chocolate to pastry, topped by the perfect chocolate consistency and taste! We would come back to Japan for this café alone!

Next it was time to head to the A Dome and the peace memorial gardens in reference to the atomic bomb dropped on the city in 1945 wiping out 180,000 people and around 70% of buildings. Just mind boggling and that's without the devastating impacts that resulted afterwards as a result of the radiation. This was one place I was really eager to see on our trip and learn further about what happened here. However, unfortunately as expected the peace museum was closed. Fortunately there were a number of information points at a number of the memorials explaining what they were and what happened.

It was very sobering walking around this place looking at all the monuments. The A bomb dome is by far the most striking, reconstructed to look exactly how it did in the aftermath of the bomb. This building was almost directly underneath the blast and it's skeleton denominates the skyline and acts as a powerful reminder.


Like a lot of these memorials it was an extremely moving experience. We were hit hardest while stood at the children's memorial reading about all the kids killed and ones that had later died of cancer way before their time. A complete generation pretty much wiped out in this city. On that point it is worth noting that when walking around we didn't see one elderly person, you have to think this event is responsible for that as older people are less likely to move in even after the rebuild. The striking statue was surrounded by colour and messages of peace. Upon closer inspection you realised that all three pictures and colour were made up by origami cranes of all sizes; produced by kids all over the world in memory. Seeing this was enough to bring a tear to any eye and something that we all need to remember in these times filled with Brexit & the Corona virus and the hate, racism and xenophobia that accompanies them. This is why such places are so important and need to act as reminders of what can happen when such negative feelings escalate and that nobody wins! We are always stronger together. Traveling more than anything shows you that no matter how different someone may seem that we still have so much in common; we all have the same needs and fundamental values. The times we live in at the moment are difficult and filled with frustration but taking it out on others will not make anything better.


With these thoughts swilling around in our heads we made a slow walk to the port, well obviously stopping at a few stops for gifts and souvenirs first! Our next destination was the island of Miyajima to see the floating tori gate, you know seeing as we love them now! Unfortunately though this structure was under renovation and therefore hidden under scaffolding... It doesn't rain it pours! The island itself had a lot of restaurants and souvenir shops but it didn't have anything of much interest to us! Mainly just food souvenirs. That is a big thing here. We spent an hour or so walking around but as the rain started we made for the boat. Like a smaller Nara there were a number of deer on this island, chilling in the town and on the beach.


Back at the hostel we used the time to catch up on blog. We decided to treat ourselves for dinner that night and headed for some more Okonomiyaki (the Japanese style omelette). In Hiroshima they make this dish slightly differently with a noodle base. So it would be rude not to try it. We located a tiny restaurant recommended by the hostel and got front row seats in front of hot plate, which was fortunate as it was freezing outside. Watching the chef cook was like some art and we were memorised as we sipped and winced at our first taste of sake! We opted for the warm version and it tasted like a slightly sweeter straight vodka without the burn. Not unpleasant but to say we liked it would be incorrect. The food looked and tasted delicious! And we left full and satisfied.


16 March
With the peace memorial closed we had already saturated what there was to do in Hiroshima. We had planned a day trip to a nearby village famous for its sake brewing, however as we weren't blown away with the taste the day before we decided against taking the trip. Instead we spent the day indoors completing a bit of admin for the rest of our trip.

First up we had booked a sushi making course in Fukoaka; something Iz was very excited about. With the current climate we thought we had the potential of a private session especially as it would take place in the home of a local.

Since we had now booked flights to our 5th country Malaysia we began the research into what Kuala Lumpur and the rest of the country had to offer. Before long we had a rough route and itinerary and were getting excited about the prospect of exploring another new country. We would now be in Kuala Lumpur for Izzy's birthday, after a number of different options didn't pan out due to the spreading of Covid19. However Malaysia's case numbers were low and at the time there were no mentioned entry restrictions or quarantine measures upon entry. Due to this we got ourselves a little lost in luxury as we scrolled through endless 5 star hotels and apartments looking for somewhere special to spend a few days to celebrate. A spa and an infinity pool were high on the list of essentials! After hours of comparisons we had settled on a gorgeous hotel yet we somehow stopped ourselves completing the booking. Despite being worried that the hotel would get booked up or the great price we secured would increase we decided to play it cautiously just in case something prevented our travel. The whole situation makes any forward planning extremely difficult. Not like it's a breeze anyway but this just adds a whole new dimension, especially as it seems to be changing on a daily basis.

We had made real progress and the day had just disappeared and it was already dinner time. After eating the rest of the leftovers we packed up our bags ready for tomorrow; our final train ride in Japan to Fukoaka.

Hiroshima hadn't quite been the experience we had expected but it was still a very unique city and I'm pleased we managed to get to experience it.

Posted by Bears on Tour 07:36 Archived in Japan

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