High on the list

Trip Start Sep 11, 2005
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Trip End Dec 26, 2005


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Flag of Japan  ,
Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I might not understand or care much for temples, but I do know a bit about WW2. That made a visit to Hiroshima pretty much compulsory - and I'm glad I came.

Obviously, most of the major sights in the city itself are bomb-related. The A-Bomb Dome is the most visible sign still standing, and a memorial park was built in the area surrounding it. It's a bit weird to be able to walk around it thinking that 60 years ago it was pretty much vapourised. There's also a large memorial hall and a museum containing artifacts like bits of clothing and fused-togther cups which were recovered from the blast site.

Despite all that, the city is now very pleasant - it's got shopping arcades, neon, and all the other hallmarks of a Japanese city just a few blocks from the park. It's actually one of the nicer places I've seen - very livable, and with a nifty tram system which was put in place when the city was being rebuilt (using hand-me-down trams which were being abolished from the systems of other cities - 4 trams from that time are still running!).

Another reason I like it here is that I opted to stay somewhere nice for a change - a minshuku, or Japanese bed and breakfast. It's really nice, sliding doors, tatami mats on the floor with a low table in the middle, sleeping stuff also goes on the floor, etc. Makes a change from smelly dorm rooms and plastic boxes. It's also about three minutes walk from the peace park and from a tram stop, so it couldn't be more convenient.

Close to Hiroshima is the island of Miyajima, seen in endless tourist brochures as the site of the "Floating Torii" (shrine gate). Seeing as it was so close (reachable by tram from Hiroshima city center) I took a half-day to look around. The fact that my Rail Pass also worked on the ferry might have also contributed to me decision to go there.

I guess it's a little like Nara - a nice enough spot to spend half a day. The Japanese were out of force as they like to see the leaves on the trees change colour - there were loads of happy snappers taking photos of leaves or photos of each other standing next to some leaves. I took a cable car up to Mt. Misen (the hike all the way up takes about 4 hours, and I was feeling lazy. Also, it was really steep) to get some great views of the island and the city beyond.

I'm about finished in this part of Japan now (I had originally planned to visit Nagasaki too, but one museum-induced emotional wrenching was enough for one trip, thanks), so now it's time to make that Rail Pass work like it hasn't been worked before for the trip up north.
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