Hiroshima and Miyajima

Hiroshima Travel Blog

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Memorial Peace Park
Seeing as Osaka's trains run on a Manhattan schedule (as opposed to a Tokyo schedule), I got a much later start in Hiroshima than I had intended.  Much later.  (It also had something to do with the post office not being where it was marked on my map, and literally wandering around for nearly an hour this morning before finally finding a post office two Osaka city districts over.)  While I was dropping my bags at the hostel the woman at reception advised against going to Miyajima, seeing as high tide was at 1:30 and it was now after 2pm.  And I was all "what do you mean don't go to Miyajima??"  And she was all "it's not beautiful, it will be low tide, I suggest you go tomorrow.
Memorial Peace Park
"  Well, ok.  I had half debated getting up at the crack of dawn and doing Miyajima with the sunrise, and still make it to Nagasaki well before noon.  But no.  This was just as bad.  "High tide tomorrow is not until 2pm."  Certainly I had misunderstood something.  Doesn't high tide happen twice a day?  And doesn't the time change by like a minute (if that) every day?  What's with this thirty minute leap?  And since when can you not visit Miyajima at times other than the precise moment of high tide?  Guidebook, YOU'RE LEADING ME ASTRAY!  Why aren't these little nuggets advertised before you solidify your plans and lock in your train departure?  I was so incredulous I made her repeat the high tide times for both today and tomorrow no fewer than a dozen times.
Memorial Peace Park
  She must have thought I was retarded.

While I was prepared to wake up early and spend a few hours in the morning before catching my train south, I was not prepared to spend another full day in Hiroshima, which would mean getting into Nagasaki at the end of the day, and pretty much training all the way to the bottom of Kyushu just to sleep.  How dumb is that?  And before you pipe up with the obvious solution, no, I can't stay here another night, I already tried to add a second night onto my reservation quite a few days ago, they're booked solid.  (Apparently there is some crazy sake festival here this weekend.  Who knew?)  I even looked at switching hostels and staying locally, but the other places seem like such crap.

So anyway, more than a little annoyed, I headed out for the Peace Memorial Park.
Memorial Peace Park
  It's much smaller than I had anticipated, but it is still every bit touching.  I had goosebumps the whole time I was there.  At each monument I'd stop to take a picture and read the plaque, and the whole time I was practically shivering with goosebumps.  It was just so sad.  So heartbreaking.  And then when you get to the top of the park you can cross a bridge and walk up to what they call the Atomic Bomb Dome, which is a skeleton of a structure that miraculously survived the blast, even though the bomb detonated literally right on top of it.  It's eerie and touching and mind blowing and heartbreaking all in one.  So sad.

From Peace Memorial Park I headed east through yet another pedestrian shopping mall, and realized I was already halfway to the train station without even trying.
Memorial Peace Park
  (To get from the train station to the hostel it's a twenty minute tram ride, and I realized it's twenty minutes because it's so damn slow.  It's probably a mile and a half, certainly no more than two.)  At this point I'm like you know what, screw what she said, I'm going to Miyajima.  I can be to the train quick enough, and if I catch it at low tide and the "floating torii" are hanging out in the swamp rather than floating, so be it.  I couldn't justify sitting around for another day just so I could have that postcard perfect photo, which I'm never able to capture anyway.

So I sit down and whip out a map to try to find some food nearby, because at this point we're closing in on 4 o'clock and I'd been subsisting on nuts and raisins and some puffed rice cereal I snagged the other day.
Memorial Peace Park
  Some Japanese dude scoots over and tries to make conversation and then tries to be the city guide and find me a place, and while I was certainly appreciative of his friendliness and eagerness to help, the language barrier was pretty steep, and given the guidebook and the map I was in the midst of deciding which of two places I should go to; here he is throwing a rock in all that and walking around to different locals asking for their suggestion, they're all looking at me like why am I bothering this guy who is in turn bothering them.  I finally figure out that he's trying to find the nicest, finest dining Hiroshima has to offer.  And I'm all uh, buddy?  See the backpack?  So then he wants to take me to some okonomiyaki place (apparently also the local specialty here in Hiroshima, perhaps even more so, those places are EVERYWHERE here) and I'm like sorry, I had that yesterday.
Memorial Peace Park
  Then he goes on some tangent about how foreigners don't like Japanese noodles so he'll take me to a good noodle place that's not Japanese that all foreigners like, which I immediately translate to Italian, and I finally put the kabosh on everything right there.  I was like NO WAY am I having Italian in Japan.  I happen to LIKE Japanese food.  Shit, I've been licking my bowl clean every day since I got here.  That, and have you SEEN what Italian food looks like in Japan??  It looks like ketchup on noodles.  Now, I'm sure there are some very nice Italian places to be found in Japan, but no thank you, that's not why I'm here.  (Btw, I'm assuming the Japanese really love their Italian.  It seems they're on every corner.  And that's been the case with every town/city I've visited.
Memorial Peace Park
)  So then he starts walking and wants me to follow him somewhere, and I'm finally like dude, I've got to go.  I'm trying to catch a train, if I had found a quick bite great, but if not, no worries.  His whole "helping me" ordeal set me back at least twenty minutes.  So I popped in a quickie mart, snagged two tasty rice cakes (not rice cakes like diet food at home, literally little cakes or balls of rice that are flavored and YUMMY and an easy go-to when pressed for time and/or mula), and walked to the station.

Caught a train right as it was pulling in, impatiently sat through the dozens of stops (bullet trains really do have me spoiled), and finally pulled up just in time to see the ferry pulling out.  Do you know that they have the trains and ferries timed so that the train pulls in literally one minute after the ferry pulls out?  NOT.
Memorial Peace Park
EVEN. KIDDING.  I pulled out the timetable and gave it a look-see and yup, every train and ferry of the day is like that.  Oh, and there's thirty minutes between each ferry.  People, we're in Japan!  This is NOT Japanese efficiency!  I suppose they figure the tourists will want to oogle all the souvenir shops before piling on the ferry?  Who knows.

The point of this winded story is do not listen to your receptionist when she tells you that it's not good to go to Miyajima at any time other than the precise moment of high tide.  Miyajima is amazing.  At any tide.  AH-MAZING.  Sure, you get to see the floating torii do their floating thing at high tide, but psst, here's a little secret: the tide doesn't charge out two minutes after it's reached its peak.
Adorable girls who approached me to practice their English...
  I finally made it there after 4:30, the torii were floating (although just barely), and the temple was out on the swampy mudlands.  You could walk around the exposed mud if you wanted to, and I particularly enjoyed being able to get a sense for how the place would look like at either extreme.  That, and I caught it just before sundown, so the light was really pretty (not to mention quiet and far less populated that it would have been at say, high tide).  The temples and the shrines of the island all close at 4pm, so I wasn't able to tour any of those.  The upside to that is it saved me quite a few admission fees, and really, after Kyoto, I'm not sure they'd compare.
...and gave me origami as a gift!
  (Can you say temple overload?)

From Miyajima I ferried and trained back to Hiroshima and walked back to a soba shop I passed a couple hours earlier.  Initially I had stopped and salivated over the soba displays, then thought "no, you had soba yesterday," and kept moving in favor of finding something equally delicious yet different.  At this point, roaming like a rabid beast, soba sounded like the end-all be-all.  ANYTHING did at that point.  So I stopped and glanced at the display, just to be sure I was sure, and immediately sprinted into the restaurant.  Run by two charming women, the food was DIVINE.  Out of this world.  Seriously.  Even if I wasn't hungry enough to be gnawing on my (still rashed/hived out) arms, this place would score top points.
Memorial Peace Park
  I had soba unlike any I've had thus far, so I did manage to score in the "something different" department.  It came with a rich, delicious broth, sort of akin to ramen broth (for lack of anything better to compare it to), but with its own unique flavor.  Topped with heaps of dried seaweed, diced green onions, and... wait for it... wait for it.... a massive, plump, bright orange, GLORIOUS raw egg yolk.  HOLY CRAP was that good eating.  I'm not sure I breathed between shovels into my mouth.  SO spectacularly good.

From there, grinning like an idiot and high on such a good meal, I wandered back through the shopping district, picked up a bottle of the much-hyped Hiroshima sake, and finally checked in to my hostel.  Sitting here sipping the sake as I type, and boy does it merit all the hype.
Memorial Peace Park
  Fantastic.  So smooth and light.  May have to head back for another bowl of scrumptious soba and and a bottle of sake for the road before I head out tomorrow.  YUM.
domnicella says:
Nah. I was enamored with them in Nara. There weren't nearly as many in Miyajima, and I was *way* over being taken for a fool by a deer. But yes, they were definitely around and people were going nutty over them.
Posted on: Oct 09, 2009
almond72 says:
Awww.. you didn't get to play with deer at Miyajima ? They are sooo cute and you can play with them. They stole a little girl's ice cream when she got distracted by an accomplice. :D
Posted on: Oct 09, 2009
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Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Adorable girls who approached me t…
Adorable girls who approached me …
...and gave me origami as a gift!
...and gave me origami as a gift!
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Memorial Peace Park
Peace Memorial Park
Peace Memorial Park
Atomic Bomb Dome
Atomic Bomb Dome
Atomic Bomb Dome
Atomic Bomb Dome
Ferry to Miyajima
Ferry to Miyajima
Miyajima and Floating Torii
Miyajima and Floating Torii
Miyajima and Floating Torii
Miyajima and Floating Torii
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Floating Torii off Miyajima
Floating Torii off Miyajima
Floating Torii
Floating Torii
Miyajima: on the way to Itsukushim…
Miyajima: on the way to Itsukushi…
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Floating Torii
Floating Torii
Floating Torii
Floating Torii
Floating Torii
Floating Torii
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Itsukushima-jinja
Look at the size of those carp!
Look at the size of those carp!
Miyajima
Miyajima
Famed local sweet treat in the sha…
Famed local sweet treat in the sh…
...filled with azuki (sweet bean) …
...filled with azuki (sweet bean)…
Machinery (literally in EVERY souv…
Machinery (literally in EVERY sou…
Miyajima
Miyajima
SUPERB soba with roe, dried seawee…
SUPERB soba with roe, dried seawe…
Memorial along Peace Boulevard
Memorial along Peace Boulevard
Memorial along Peace Boulevard
Memorial along Peace Boulevard
Memorial along Peace Boulevard
Memorial along Peace Boulevard
Hiroshima Hostels review
Standard Hostel in Hiroshima
J-Hoppers in Hiroshima is much larger than their sister hostel in Takayama, which means it's busier, noisier, not quite as clean, the staff are a bit … read entire review
Hiroshima
photo by: mmeymey