The city centre of Hiroshima with its A-bomb memorials and museums is sad (click here to read my previous post on the topic), but there is more to Hiroshima than the city centre and sadness. Hiroshima in 2015 is not just a city with a destroyed landscape like you might imagine based on photos or video footage you’ve seen from 1945, instead, the coastline of Hiroshima is beautiful!
When we visited Hiroshima, we did not stay in a city centre hotel, but decided to stay in a hotel by the Inland Sea. The view from our room and from the restaurants in the hotel was amazing (see photos below), although as soon as we got to the hotel after spending the day in the museums and memorials of Hiroshima, our children were more interested in getting their laptop out and watching a film rather than admiring the view. I can’t really blame them. When my twin sister and I were young, our parents took us to many interesting places on holiday. Did we appreciate it? No. My most memorable holiday moment from childhood is a dead porpoise on the beach of our resort (or actually, to be honest, a delicious chicken basket in a fast food restaurant in Bulgaria), not the amphitheatres, museums and natural beauty.
The only thing that exceeded the threshold of ‘entertainment’ and managed to tempt our children away from their film was a hawk, or some other bird of prey, just outside our windows.
My husband and I could have just sat there for a month staring out of those windows (and we wouldn’t have even needed wine to keep us entertained, and that says a lot!).
The following morning, we took a boat from outside our hotel to nearby Miyajima Island (30mins on the boat).
As soon as we stepped out of the pier at Miyajima, we were greeted by some deer. We experienced some slightly unpleasant deer in the historical town of Nara (in the Kansai region of Japan, 40 minutes from Osaka) last autumn, so the children were somewhat reserved with the deer pottering about in Miyajima. But this time no deer attempted to mount me, eat our ice creams, or steal (and eat) our travel documents from my handbag. Luckily, the majority of them where hiding from the sun in the shade (you might just about be able to make out the deer underneath the bridge in the photo below).
The main attraction on Miyajima is the Itsukushima Shrine and its big gate, both of whose appearance changes between high and low tide. The high tide looks fantastic with the shrine in a sense floating in the water, but as you can see by looking at the photos below, our visit took place during the low tide. Talk about being in the right place at the wrong time.
After having seen the shrine, we took a cable car to the top of Mount Misen from where you could see Hiroshima and the surrounding archipelago. The summer with its heat and humidity in Japan is a killer (literally). The cable car cabins didn’t have proper air conditioning, but the staff tried to get as much cool air into the cabin as they could at the start of the ride (see photo below).
The air con system seemed quite 1970s (or modern day Russia) but I suppose so did the cable car.
We noticed some visitors only took the first leg of the cable car, half way up the mountain, and looking rather green in the face, didn’t attempt to do the second leg to the top. We (foolishly perhaps) were not scared. But I am happy to tell you that we made it to the top (and back down) safe and sound.
The view from Mount Misen was great!
We were admiring the view from Mount Misen for so long that we nearly missed our boat back to the hotel, which would have meant us missing the shuttle bus to the station, which in turn would have meant us missing our bullet train back to Osaka. But we made it after a sweaty jog down the mountain.
I want to emphasize that I do not work for the Hiroshima tourist board, nor do I get a share in the profits they’ll be making after this blog post, but if you ever have a chance, visit Hiroshima. It is educational, historically important, has beautiful scenery, friendly people and great food.
And before anyone asks apparently the most important question:
Do I prefer Osaka or Hiroshima okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake)?
I have to come clean and confess that we did not try Hiroshima Okonomiyaki while in Hiroshima. What I know is that, in Hiroshima, the ingredients of the pancake (noodles, cabbage, vegetables, pork, octopus, etc.) are in layers, while in the Osaka version they are all mixed. Thus, in my opinion, asking about one’s preference for Hiroshima or Osaka okonomiyaki is a bit like asking:
‘Which do you prefer, open top or regular sandwiches?’
As long as it is cooked ham and cucumber I don’t care.