April 9, 2016
Today we left Fukuoka at 9:45am and took the Shinkansen (high-speed rail) to Hiroshima. We planned on spending one night in Hiroshima on our way to Osaka, where we’ll be spending a week. Our plan was also to use Hiroshima as a base to check out Miyajima tomorrow.
The Shinkansen train to Hiroshima, which is about 285km from Fukuoka, only took an hour. If only all trains were bullet trains. Once we arrived at Hiroshima Station, we lined up for the street cars to take us close to our hotel. My first impression of Hiroshima when we got off the train was that there are a lot of non-Asian tourists. There were a lot of Americans and Europeans all around the station, I don’t think I’ve seen so many non-Asians in one place since leaving Vancouver.
The street car ride was a bit of a painful ride down, it took about half an hour to get close to our hotel (the same amount of time Google says it would take us to walk). For some reason we were stuck at a stop for about 8 minutes. The subway card (IC card) we got in Fukuoka was not compatible with Hiroshima’s transit system (one of the only major cities in Japan that doesn’t make its card compatible with others) so we had to use coins to pay for our fare, which was 160 JPY = $1.92 CAD each.
We finally made it to Hotel Sunroute around noon. Check in time was supposed to be at 2pm, but when we checked in they had a room ready for us. We settled down and planned to go for lunch and then go to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The room was nice and clean and it had the exact same layout as the hotel in Fukuoka. I showed a picture to my Mom and she said it’s the same layout as my parent’s hotel in Tokyo. I guess most Japanese hotel rooms are the same (Tim: based on Kait’s sample size of 3).
While looking up lunch options on Trip Advisor, it was mainly okonomiyaki restaurants and the number one ranked location was called “Nagata-ya”. Okonomiyaki is a savoury Japanese “pancake” and is mainly associated with Hiroshima and Osaka, although the two cities’ versions of okonomiyaki are quite different. The Osaka version is more popular outside of Japan, and if you have Okonomiyaki in Vancouver, it’s probably Osaka style.
We walked down the river towards the restaurant while passing by the Memorial Peace Park. The river and bridges around the memorial are quite nice and remind me a bit of a European city (Tim: I think Kaitlyn associates any city with bridges over rivers/canals as being “European-like”, or if there are taller buildings around, “Chicago-like”). The area was busy with tourists but at the same time, it felt very peaceful and calm.
When we got to Nagata-ya, there was a long line up. We decided to just stick it out and line up. The line up was mainly tourists, as expected given the location of the restaurant and how many foreign tourists we saw walking around the area. We waited about half an hour before being seated at the counter.
The okonomiyaki was good, but it was different because all elements were layered instead of being mixed together (which is what I’m more used to). The okonomiyaki was pretty big, so half way through, I think we both regretted not sharing one instead (at least I did). But I think having waited in line for a while, it made us feel like we should just order our own (rookie mistake). Overall it was good, but I’m sure we could’ve gone to any place and it would’ve been good too and we wouldn’t have to wait.
After lunch we walked to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The cost per person is 200 JPY = $2.40 CAD. Apparently the prices have gone up since April 1st as it used to be only 50 JPY. Part of the museum is closed for renovations so it was basically just the Main Hall that was available for viewing. When we entered the exhibit, the place was packed, so going through each item and reading the plaques took a while.
The museum wasn’t as extensive as I thought it would be, which is a bit of a shame. Tim says the exhibit that was closed explained more about Hiroshima pre-atomic bomb, which would have been interesting (Tim: There was also a lot more about Hiroshima’s ongoing global role in promoting the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons). It’s always a bit depressing to go to any museum of this sort. It’s been 70 years since the atomic bomb was dropped, the city has gone from rumbles to a beautiful one that represents a plea for world peace.
(Tim: It’s too bad that half the museum was being renovated, but I have no doubt it’ll be great when they’re finished. I hope they find opportunity to showcase more individual survivor stories as I find those most compelling. At the end of the museum, they have a row of video monitors where you can queue up videos of survivors giving their first hand accounts of the day. They reminded me of John Hersey’s New Yorker article, “Hiroshima“, which I highly recommend reading in its entirety if you haven’t read it before.)
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Hiroshima castle, where we stumbled upon a ceremony taking place outside one of the shrines. The park looked like it used to have cherry blossoms all around, but now the majority of them are gone.
As we were still really full from lunch, we went back to the hotel and caught up with some writing and rested a bit before going out for a late dinner. Tim did a bit of research on what else Hiroshima is known for, food wise, and he found that tsukemen ramen is from here. Tsukemen is where you dip the noodles and other ingredients into a small bowl of soup/sauce. At around 8:30pm we headed out to find the restaurant, but when we got to the location, it was closed! They had a sign saying they relocated, but we couldn’t read it or understand the map.
We decided to go back to the main area close to us, Hondori, where we saw a lot of shops and restaurants. There was a CoCo Curry (Tim’s favourite) so we ended up going there for dinner. The last time we had CoCo Curry was in Bangkok, when we were craving something other than Thai food. Tim ordered chicken cutlet curry and I had the hamburger steak. It was pretty tasty and hit the spot for both of us.
We walked back to the hotel with full stomachs and prepared for tomorrow morning’s activities in Miyajima. We also FaceTimed my nephew, Nate, who was dancing the hokey pokey for us!
Hiroshima is a beautiful city with a very sad history. While standing on the bridge on such a beautiful day, you can’t help but imagine the horrors of that day (being right around the hypocenter of the A-bomb) on August 6, 1945. We can only pray that an attack like that will never happen again.
Steps today: 19,500