The following day I hopped on another Shinkansen Bullet train to Hiroshima and to my oddly hotel like hostel by the sea! I was staying a little outside of the city but managed to navigate my way back into the center to visit the Peace Memorial Park in the sunshine. My first stop was to the A-Bomb dome where locals had decided to keep and partially restore one of the few buildings left standing after the 1945 Atomic bombing of Hiroshima as a reminder of the devastation that the bomb had caused. In a lusciously green setting the old town hall dome was a dark skeletal shadow and a striking shape against all the natural forms around it. I made my way through the park which was filled with tributes to those had lost their lives to the bombing including the beautiful and rather moving Children’s Peace Memorial which was flanked by cases of paper cranes made by locals and thousand of visitors symbolising longevity and happiness. Reflections on Hiroshima’s tragic past were speckled throughout the park and led me to the large Peace Memorial Museum at the end. The museum was a collection of belongings left by victims, graphic photographs and fragments of bubbling roof tiles or glassware amongst other materials that conveyed the horror of the bombing and its aftermath. It was made intensely clear that those who did survive then suffered great physical and psychological damage particularly demonstrated in the documentary film of their personal testimonies at the end of the museum space. I left feeling incredibly moved by the museum but also sort of inspired by the dedication of Hiroshima’s citizens to promoting a message of global peace and the elimination of nuclear weapons.
It was a little difficult to decide what to do next so I just want for a walk in the sunshine on the hunt for some cherry blossoms and eventually settled in a beautiful park just outside the city. As it was a Saturday it was filled with groups of work colleagues, friend and families gathered in groups to barbecue and picnic under the blossoms. That evening having followed some particularly drunk revellers back to the city I took the ferry to Miyajima island just 15 minutes or so from my hostel. I was a little peckish when we docked on the island and felt it was appropriate to try one of the hot octopus skewers sold by street vendors on the beach front and god it was delicious. It was only when I realised that, like my time in Nara, friendly and hungry deer roamed the area that I wolfed it down to avoid it being stolen! I followed the coastal path as the sun was setting for a brilliant view out to the main island and the city lights and of the towering shrine gate of Itsukushima-jinja standing proudly in the sand. As it was low tide I could walk around the huge structure amongst tonnes of tourists and photographers and eventually headed back to the pathway to draw as the day drew to a close.
The next day I decided to begin with a run as the supermarket was miles away and I have always liked the idea of ‘going for a run’ but really never enjoyed it. This was however like any other jog I have experienced; mildly pleasing as an ego boost of yep my legs work but nonetheless sweaty, painful and a constant competition of ‘come on you can just make it to that McDonald’s sign, if you do you can walk for 30 seconds…. okay maybe 2 minutes…. or 5’. The views however were pretty distracting as I passed views of the ocean and stacks upon stacks of scallop shells threaded onto wires to look like giant sea urchins on the shore. I spent the rest of the day planning my trip and how to squeeze in all of the final must see destinations on my list! That evening I met up with Daisy, a traveller pal from Osaka and we shared two of the delish hiroshima style okonomiyake pancake feasts which were whipped up in front of us. We spent the evening sharing stories about our travels and tips for onward journeys until I had to hop on the last tram back to my hostel!
(Photos; Daisy and I with our okonomiyake, my octopus stick thing with a view! Views on my run, the scallop stacks, paper cranes in hiroshima, Children’s peace memorial, the A-bomb dome, views to the Peace Memorial Museum, a beautiful glass sculpture in the peace park)