The beautiful side of Hiroshima



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).

IMG_0722     IMG_0901


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).


You might just about see the deer underneath the bridge in the shade

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.



It was a bad bad bomb


We did a two day trip to Hiroshima a couple of weeks ago. Although we loved Hiroshima and the surrounding area, it was an upsetting experience, not only for my husband and I, but also for our children. Pretty much daily, my 4-year old daughter still spontaneously states: ‘It was a bad, bad bomb’.

And it was a bad bad bomb. The World’s first ever Atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima at 8.15am on the 6th August 1945, instantaneously killing approx. 70 000 people, mostly civilians. Due to extremely bad burns and radiation, during the days, weeks or months following that moment, a further 140 000 people died. Furthermore, the radiation made sure that many people who were not even born at the time of the bomb, people who had no part in the WWII, other than of course being ethnically Japanese, died before their time.

The only building that was not completely demolished in the Hiroshima city centre when the bomb detonated was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Dome, the reason being that the dome was located underneath the epicenter of the bomb, and thus spared from the full blow. See photos below.

Hiroshima A-bomb dome

Hiroshima Atomic bomb dome


Hiroshima A-bomb dome

Hiroshima Atomic bomb dome

The area surrounding the dome is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park with several memorials and the Atomic bomb museum.


Memorial for the people who died

Memorial for the people who died


Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Peace Memorial


Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Visiting the Atomic bomb museum was the most upsetting part of our weekend in Hiroshima. I (and many other people) were in tears seeing photos of the city before and after. Seeing the stopped watches at 8.15am, the glass bottles and roof tiles that had melted and bubbled in the extreme heat of the A-bomb, and the list of approx. 200 000 names of the people who were killed, seeing the displays of (wax) children whose clothes had burned off, and their skin and flesh melted to the point that it was hanging off their bones, yet still conscious, in a state of shock and confusion, trying to find they way back home in the chaos and destruction, and seeing the photos of dying people either due to severe burns or radiation, and reading about the thousands of people who instantaneously burned into ash for having been in close proximity to the epicentre.

It was heartbreaking reading the stories of parents’ relentless and desperate attempts to find their children, who never returned home from the city centre (where many school children worked during the war). Tragically, the children or their bodies were often never found. Worse yet, the parents were unaware of the fact that going into to the city centre to look for their children was not a good idea because of the radiation. Although, knowing about the radiation would probably not have stopped any parent from going and trying to find their child.

The fact that people (in Japan or elsewhere) were not made aware as to the kind of a bomb it was that exploded in Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) for about 10 years is pretty upsetting. Apparently, America didn’t want to face the anger –  and the consequent resistance – from the Japanese (or the rest of the world) so they kept it as a secret until the 1950s.

Surprisingly, the Japanese do not seem to hold a grudge – at least not the young people – even the ones that are from Hiroshima. Most Japanese people seem to think that Japan was cruel and out or order, and that America did what they had to do to stop the war – that the Japanese somehow deserved it. However, what the nowadays more open (and critical) history books seem to suggest is that America knew that Japan was on the verge of surrendering and no disproportionate acts of force were needed to end the war, but that America had used a lot of money in developing the Atomic bomb, and so, it had to justify the big spend.

I can’t help but thinking that the person who writes the Japanese primary and secondary school history books works for the American government’s division for propaganda, given that, if anything, the Japanese (counterintuitively) seem to glorify America.

The destruction power of the atomic bombs that were used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a fraction of the modern nuclear warheads – warheads that are used as deterrent, threat and negotiation leverage by countries like Russia and the US while the rest of us, helpless bystanders, watch and hope that there will never be World War III.

At the eve of the 70-year anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb I feel deep sadness by it all and all I can think is:

Nobody deserves that.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Hiroshima Peace Memorial