I don’t exactly know why I visited Hiroshima. I mean don’t know anything about the war between the USA and Japan nor do I know the exact reason why Hiroshima was bombed to hell. But I guess it was just one of cities you just “had” to visit when you’re in Japan.
For some reason, a trip to Hiroshima seemed the obvious choice when you visit Japan. Considering it’s tragic past and worldwide coverage of the atombomb incident back in 1945. Personally I don’t really know much about the reason behind the bombing nor do I have any interest in the war. But I do like history and it was on my way to Fukuoka (my next stop) anyway.
To tell the future generations about the atombomb incident, the city of Hiroshima have rebuild the epi-center of the bombing into a Peace memorial park. Within this park you can find several memorials in memory of the people that died that day and landmarks to prevent the same thing (mistake!?) from happening again.
One of the most symbolical memoral was the one of the crane-folding girl. When I was a kid I’ve always seen my sis folding tons of little paper cranes, but never questions why. I just figured it was just another origami animal she was into. But underlying message of these papercranes can not be more sad. Here is how the story goes:
Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing by the United States. She developed leukemia from the radiation and spent her time in a nursing home creating origami (folded paper) cranes in hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would then be granted a wish. Her wish was simply to live. However, she managed to fold only 644 cranes before she became too weak to fold any more, and died shortly after. Her friends and family helped finish her dream by folding the rest of the cranes, which were buried with Sadako.
There is also a flame of peace to be find in the middle of the park. They say that the flame will only go out once every nuclear bomb in the world has been dismantled and the world is “forever” ridden of nuclear weapons. With North-Korea around, I doubt that’s gonna happen anytime soon. Just sayin’.
There are also 2 museums attached to the park which gave you a clear view of the reason behind the bombings. They showed a miniature version of the center of Hiroshima, before and after the bombing. The result is just disturbing. They also showed the consequences of the nuclear power of the bomb and the after effects ont he buildings and more importantly on the survivors for the years to come.
On a happier sidenote:
Hiroshima is not only famous for the atombomb incident. But they also make the best damn okonomiyaki. This is a type of japanese pancake/tortilla. There is this one building where they have 3 floors of restaurants that offer nothing but okonomiyaki. Just delicious and if I could, I would have come back every night I think. I’ve had okonomiyaki before Hiroshima and it was alright, but I’ve also had okonomiyaki after trying the ones in Hiroshima and I must say, the best one was indeed from Hiroshima. Be sure to check out the okonomi-mura building for okonomiyaki goodness!
One of the most iconic sights in Japan is the floating torii gate in Miyajima. As a real tourist, I actually had no idea the gate was just next to Hiroshima. Lucky me! The gate itself was pretty spectacular I guess, but it was actually “just” another tori gate, but this time it was in the water. Since I was there, I might as well hang around with the other tourists and take a bunch of pictures.
Miyajima is actually an island just a short ferry ride from Hiroshima. Besides the floating torii gate the island also offered a nice hiking path through some nice landscapes and with some temples spread out over the place.
Besides the floating tori and the Itsukushima shrine, there was also Mt. Misen, a nice little mountain for the hikers amongs us. It wasn’t a difficult hike despite the snow covered paths. The roads were marked quite clearly, making it avaible for all ages to hike up the mountain. Again there were several routes to go up and down and I picked one of the lesser traveled ones to avoid the big crowds, mainly because it was recommended by the hostel though.
For the downhill part I picked a route with a temple called Daisho-in that had a lot of statues and if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a big sucker for statues.
All in all I spent a whole day on Miyajima and I think it was just about enough time to see everything that’s worth seeing. On the way back to the docks you can check out the floating torii from up close since a lot of the water has been subsided.