Japan 2019 Day 8

June 28, 2019

Day eight of ten is Hiroshima day! Hiroshima is one of the parts of the trip I’ve been most excited about mainly because of its history of being the first place targeted by a nuclear weapon but also because of the island of Miyajima, which comes heavily recommended.

In the morning we made the most of our last few hours in Kyoto and got up early to visit Nijo Castle, a beautiful palace from the Edo period used by the first shogun - now a world heritage site. We chose not to go for the full tour for fear of missing our train but we managed to snag tickets for the garden. Whilst people might go on about Japan’s shrines and temples (and yes some of them are nice) Nijo Castle is definitely one of the most scenic places we’ve visit. The Japanese know what it takes to have a beautiful garden!

Nijo Castle's gate
Nijo Castle's gate

We caught a bullet train to Hiroshima and this time I was determined to learn from yesterday’s mistakes. I carried my heavy bag all around Arashyima in the middle of the day, getting incredibly sweaty in the process, so for Hiroshima I had a plan to avoid the pain. I was intending to leave my bag in Hiroshima station in a coin locker but unfortunately due to to an inconveniently timed G20 Summit all lockers were out of operation for security reasons - as were, incidentally, the bins. Forced to change our plans, we headed to our hotel, getting caught in the rain en route, to deposit my luggage before heading to Miyajima.

The view of Miyajima
The view of Miyajima

Although Google Maps struggles to provide a route, Miyajima was surprisingly easy to get to. The tricky bit was to catch the train to Miyajimaguchi Station and from there you can catch a ferry - all of it is covered by the JR Pass. The approach to the island itself offers a fantastic view of its misty hills. Miyajima is a pretty unique kind of place. It’s clearly home to a small number of residents but is also incredibly commercialised, the Starbucks gives that bit away. The place is incredibly picturesque, it has a gorgeous beach front and the landscape extends into a lush mountain range. Deer roam wild across the island and seem relatively oblivious to everything around them, I spotted one shop owner feeding one by hand. The main attraction of the island is definitely the famous Itsukushima Shrine which sprawls over the beach front and has a floating Torii gate, which was unfortunately partially in scaffold whilst we were there. The island is beautiful - but a tad too commercialised for anything more than a few Instagram pictures. We climbed up and checked out the Buddhist Dashio-in Temple but weren’t too impressed. I did have some fun ringing its bell though!

Me in front of Miyajima's famous Torii gate, which is unfortunately partially covered by scaffolding
Me in front of Miyajima's famous Torii gate, which is unfortunately partially covered by scaffolding

After heading back to the hotel we went in search of food. We settled on a local ramen place without an English menu. After a bit of conversation they explained their sauce was hot and we should tell them how hot it should be on a scale of zero to thirty, I suggested half way and they brought out our food. Unlike the ramen we’d had on our first night these noodles didn’t clump together and dipping them in the sauce was very difficult. The sauce itself was as promised - hot. Fifteen was far too much for me, and Joel and I were constantly chugging water to keep the sauce from burning our mouth. Not the best meal but definitely memorable. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and I spent the next few hours catching up on missed blog posts.

Tomorrow brings our final day in Hiroshima as we head back to Tokyo after checking out the atomic bomb site and its associated museums and memorials.

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Last Updated: 2019-07-01 11:30