Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hiroshima ’15, Day 6 – The Peace Memorial Park and Miyajima

The next day we woke up quite excitedly because from now on we would be able to eat breakfast at the hotel! It’s the small things that can make you happy. XD We got dressed and took the elevator up to the 15th floor, where we were quickly allowed to enter the restaurant. It was buffet style breakfast! ;_; <3
A waitress guided us to a table next to a big window, which gave us an amazing view on the city and again the Peace Memorial Park. Then we went to pick some things to eat for breakfast. Even though there was absolutely nothing wrong with our store bought breakfasts in Osaka, it was really great to just pile things on a plate and go back for seconds if necessary. I had delicious scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, baked potatoes, fruit and yoghurt with sauce. I also tried a piece of what I think was cold tofu but it was really
nasty... x)

Breakfast in Hiroshima
Hotel breakfast is best breakfast!

After breakfast we went downstairs to our room to change, collect our things and then went on our way. We took some outfit pictures in front of the hotel entrance.

Outfits of the Day
Our outfits of the day. ^^

We crossed the road, walked over the bridge that was apparently part of the ‘Promenade of Peace’ and already arrived at the Peace Memorial Park. The sky was cloudy, but somehow it felt like it was going to be a nice day anyway. We arrived at an open square with a fountain, some statues and shrubberies. We assumed the grey buildings in the distance were the museum. We walked around the square and to the first statue we saw. It was ‘Mother and children in the storm’, a woman holding her children bend over against imaginary wind and rubble. It was quite impressive.

In The Storm
School children sitting around ‘Mother and children in the storm’.

I immediately want to address one small critique about the park: a lot of statues didn’t have a little sign telling you the name of the statue or the subject, at least not in English. This initially disappointed us a little, but later we got a map with all the names of all the memorials. We looked at another statue and after I had checked a map a little further away, we entered the actual park by walking underneath the museum. It was there I spotted a guard and asked for a map. He immediately guided us into the museum to the information desk, that was very nice. :) We quickly spotted just how many memorials there were. The list went on and on and they were all aimed at different groups of people. I thought that was very beautiful.

Peace Memorial Park Map
The map we got with all the memorials.

We entered the park again and just started walking. In the distance we already spotted a familiar sight: a monument shaped like a big stone arch. We walked up to it. It was a really beautiful memorial: the arch was made of a smooth, grey stone and was placed right across from the A-Bomb dome, which you could see right through it. This memorial is called ‘the Cenotaph’. A cenotaph is a monument in honor of someone whose remains are in another location. The Memorial Cenotaph’s shape represents a shelter for the souls of the victims of the bomb.

Cenotaph and A-Bomb Dome
Elderly people taking pictures in front of the Cenotaph.

Beautiful fresh flowers were placed in front of it and within the monument stood a stone chest. It contains a listing of all the people who died as a result of the atomic bomb tragedy, regardless of nationality. Names are still added to the list as people pass away from diseases that may have been caused by the radiation given off by the explosion.

The beautiful Cenotaph and the fresh flowers in front of it. You can see the A-Bomb dome in the distance.

In the shallow water gutter surrounding the memorial were plaques placed that read the following texts in several languages:

We Shall Not Repeat The Evil
‘Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil’.

Some pigeons were bathing in the water, which somehow was really beautiful. We walked around the Cenotaph, past a flag pole with the Japanese flag and to the Peace Flame, which was located right between the Cenotaph and the A-Bomb dome. My mom and I sometimes said something to each other, but we didn’t talk much. The park had a certain serenity, a certain inexplicable silence. Talking wasn’t needed.

Peace Flame
The Peace Flame in between th Cenotaph and the A-Bomb dome.

We walked on and arrived at the Children’s Memorial, a memorial in the same kind of grey stone as the other memorials, which a statue of a child on top of it. The cases around the memorial were filled with colourful decorations made by children and you could pay a small fee to have your own paper crane added to it.

Children's Peace Monument
The Children’s Peace monument.

Inside of the stone monument hung a bell with a rope attached to it, decorated with an origami crane-shaped ornament.

Paper Crane
The bell and paper crane inside the monument.

Again we walked on and reached the river. The Atomic Bomb dome was just on the other side of it. The fact it was just there, a building I had seen so many times online or on tv, really standing there just on the other side of the water was so surreal…

Years after the Disaster
My mom looking at the Atomic Bomb dome.

We sat down on a bench and just watched and talked. People walked and cycled by as we sat there. A group of elderly people and their caretakers sat down on the low brick wall in front of us and had lunch. A couple of school children sat down on the ground to eat their bento lunches and a group of tourists took pictures of them after asking. My mom spotted a man with a corgi in the basket of his bike and went to pet the little dog (she loves corgis). The idea that such an enormous disaster once took place only a couple of meters away was strange. It’s as if I didn’t really realise while I sat there, but now writing this makes me more and more aware. I am happy to say I have seen the A-Bomb dome with my own eyes.

Across the River
Taking more pictures of the A-Bomb dome. This building really made an impact on me.

We left our bench and started walking again, following the sidewalk along the river. We spotted lots of different groups of children on a field trip. They took official group pictures in front of the A-Bomb dome. Once the two groups were gone, we walked up to a sign showing the original building that was once the A-Bomb dome when it was still standing. More parts of it were destroyed than I thought. Still, it’s incredible this particular building, that was only 160 meters from the hypocenter of the atomic bomb, still partly exists.

Before and After
The A-Bomb dome, before and after.

We walked on, up to the Bell of Peace. The name is self-explanatory I suppose. The dome the bell hung in was surrounded by a pond with small fish. It was very pretty. I softly rung the bell as well, the sound was quite beautiful.

Bell of Peace
The bell of peace.

We crossed the river by bridge and approached the A-Bomb dome. There was absolutely no way to get completely close to it because of the fence around it and the security (thank God), but still we walked right beside it. We spotted two herons casually standing on the walls of the building. Naturally, this building has no significant meaning to them, but it still felt… strange almost.

A-Bomb Dome
The A-Bomb dome up close.

We walked around the building, past a group of people reading several folders about peace (I believe) and past a big fountain. Unfortunately, we still hadn’t found one of the memorials my mom was eager to see. She had watched a lot of Hiroshima documentaries back home and one of them featured a group of memorials gifted by several countries including our own. We tried hard to find it and even crossed the road to this strange empty square where we thought it might be located. We never found it.
We decided to give up on our search and walk back to the hotel through a different part of the park. By now it was quite warm, which was nice. We walked all the way back to the Cenotaph, where we spotted a group of people carrying signs sat down on the stairs behind it. They seemed to be protesting against something, but they were all silent. We wondered whether they were protesting against the new military bill? Maybe someone who can read Japanese can tell me in the comments.

Silent Protest
The silent protest.

We left the park and went back to our hotel, where we rested for a short while. I just couldn’t stand the fact we hadn’t found the memorial my mom wanted to see, so I looked it up. It ended up being located in Nagasaki and not Hiroshima. x)
Then, we grabbed our things together because we were going on our way to Miyajima! Miyajima is an island not far from Hiroshima. Maybe you have seen pictures of this big, red torii standing in the sea close to the shore? It’s very likely you have actually. That is Miyajima. It has been my dream for a long time to go there, but I always thought it was located all the way at the south of Japan. So when we discovered it’s actually close to Hiroshima I jumped and danced around the house. And so, we went on our way. First, we took the tram to Nishi-Hiroshima. From there, we took a JR train (which was free thanks to our Japan Rail Passes) to Miyajimaguchi.

This train station felt so ‘typically Japanese’ to me. It was wonderful. ♥

The train ride was a bit longer than I expected, however the view was nice and we were distracted by our fellow passengers (two school guys playing a weird game right across from us for example). Finally, we arrived at Miyajimaguchi and got off the train. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was blue, the weather was perfect!
We followed the group of people heading in the right direction, following the signs tot the ferry. To get to the docks, we had to walk into a tunnel underneath the road (which wasn’t that dangerous-looking at all?). Finally, we spotted the two entrances to the ferries. One was JR operated, the other wasn’t. Even though the ferry fare wasn’t that expensive, we could take the JR one for free so we went with that one. The ferry had just arrived so we didn’t have to wait for long.

Entering the Ferry
Waiting to board the ferry.

We entered the boat, found ourselves some nice standing spots and waited for the boat to depart. Some people went to sit inside! There was no view at all there, how boring (haha). Finally, the boat took off!
The boat ride didn’t take very long. The island was a lot closer to the mainland than I thought. The island already looked gorgeous though…

To Miyajima
On our way to Miyajima~! ☆

Big mountains rose from the sea and soon I already spotted the famous torii! I couldn’t believe it! I had a hard time containing my excitement, haha!

Gate in the Water
Isn’t this the most amazing view!? ;_; ♥

Finally, the boat was slowing down and soon we docked. I am not sure what I expected, but our arrival was already different than it was in my head (in a good way, don’t worry)! We followed a path leading from the boat to a big arrival hall, with an information desk, benches and toilets. I went to the toilet while my mom waited and then I went to ask for a map at the information desk. The lady working there was most kind, immediately pulling out a map and pen. She showed me where we were located at that moment, where the interesting touristic attractions were and immediately invited me to a dance performance at dusk. I also asked her for the tides times and she immediately wrote them down for me, which was incredibly helpful. We left the building and started walking in the direction of the torii. It would be ebb tide in a short while, so we didn’t want to wait for too long. Once outside, we immediately spotted… a deer!? Nara, a town not far from Kyoto, is famous for its freely roaming deer, but apparently this is also the case on Miyajima!

You don’t just walk into a deer every day!

However, here you were not supposed to feed them and you could tell these deer were more used to being left alone. One still scared the hell out of me when he brushed against my hand while I was reading a sign. I thought it was a child, okay? XD
We started walking again and followed my map. The island was absolutely beautiful. The wooden houses and little shops were all old fashioned and lovely. Strings with pieces of paper on them moved in the soft wind and everything was just so calm and nice. <3

Miyajima is just so calm and wonderful…

We met the occasional deer and just kept walking along the shore, past lots of stone statues shaped like little temples (as I like to say). Then finally, the enormous torii appeared in front of us. We walked up to the side of the road, which had ascended so we ended up a couple of meters higher than the beach. There it was, the torii. My torii. The feeling I had, standing there looking at it is indescribable. I cannot explain why I have always loved the sight of this particular torii, but here I was looking at it with my own two eyes, reflecting itself in the water around it. It was amazing.

Miyajima Torii
I have no words…

Groups of schoolchildren were taking pictures in front of it. The photographer even pushed a deer in the picture, that was interesting.
We took tons of pictures in front of the torii, while the water slowly moved away from the island. Also, something bad happened. I’d rather not tell you what, I just want to mention it so I can remember it in the future. Sorry. Let’s move on. We took lots of pictures. While selecting pictures for my vacation series, I had a hard time choosing!

At last, a picture with my beloved torii. ♥

When we were finally done taking pictures up on the wall, the water had moved away from the torii for quite a bit. So we decided to walk up to it! We were not the only ones to do so of course, since a lot of people were already taking pictures standing next to the pillars. However, no one had decided to take off their shoes and wade through the middle part of the torii, where there was still water. So, brave souls we are, we took off our shoes, tied them to our bags and walked up to the torii! There was a lot of slimy sea weed, but we remained brave (haha) and walked on, which resulted into great pictures in my opinion!

The Torii
I really like these pictures!

After taking about 123643 pictures of and with the bright red torii, my mom walked on into the sea until the water reached up to her knees. Since no one else was around, it was quite calming. I followed her and it was quite a nice place, with an amazing view upon the mainland.

To the Mainland
The mainland in the distance.

Suddenly, my mom said she had spotted jellyfish! Whaaa, I got so scared! XD I am still not sure whether it was really a jellyfish she saw, but we made sure we got away from there safely! There was absolutely no warning sign anywhere so I guess we’ll never know? So scary though…
We walked back to the shore and sat down on some rocks that functioned as a little bridge to put our shoes back on (wet feet in socks, eewww). Than we returned to the road.

Stepping Stones
Some of the stepping stones that formed a bridge over the slimy seewead.

We climbed some stairs and sat down on a bench on top of the wall, next to a kind Australian girl. While we cleaned the sand off our feet, we talked a bit with the girl and enjoyed the view. Meanwhile, a deer had snuck up to us and stuck his head right into my bag. He almost ate my map! XD
We said goodbye to the girl and followed the pathway into the island. On our left hand, on top a hill we spotted a tall pagoda and we were curious what it would look like up close. So we decided to climb the incredibly high stairs to find out. It wasn’t a very good idea unfortunately, my poor mom was completely out of breath by the time we were at the top.

The bright yellow pagoda on top of the hill.

The pagoda looked really lovely, however to get inside you needed to pay a fee and take your shoes off and since we were not that interested to see the inside, we decided to walk around it and walk down another set of stairs again. We ended up in a bit of a backside, where there was more shade and some shops.

Stairs Down
Walking down the stairs from the pagoda.

A souvenir shop drew our attention and we ended up buying some cute things there: a key chain for me and a miniature torii and a deer statue for my mom.
It was getting later in the afternoon and we decided to walk back in the direction of the ferry. We weren’t planning on leaving already, but walking further away also meant having to walk more on the way back. We passed the famous Itsukushima shrine and we ended up
visiting it!

Entrance to the Shrine
My mom with our tickets, ready to visit the Itsukushima shrine.

Unfortunately, because it was ebb tide of course so there was no water underneath and around the building, however I did enjoy walking there. The enormous red, wooden beams of the building were quite impressive and the view upon the torii was great, so I am sure it’s even greater while it’s flood tide.

Itsukushima Shrine
Some sides of the Itsukushima shrine.

We left the Itsukushima shrine again and walked around it, back to the sandy bay of the torii. The sun was slowly setting and we took tons of picture more of the beautiful torii. I didn’t really want to leave, but since our journey back would take quite a long time we had no choice.

Bye Bye Torii
I really hope I can one day return to Miyajima.

We headed back in the direction of the ferry, passing through a street of adorable touristic shops. I ended up buying a cute, school trip-like hat, hihi. ^^ We also bought some local delicacies to try later: leaf-shaped cakes with different fillings. Apparently they’re a Hiroshima and Miyajima specialty. We also passed a shop that sold… milk salt ice cream? That sounded so exciting we decided to try it!

Milk Salt Ice Cream
Milk salt ice cream!

This ice cream was so good! It indeed had a hint of saltiness and it was so fresh! <3 While we were eating our ice cream, a deer started following us. It was so cute! You could tell the deer were quite independent here: whenever they were fed up with people, they just climbed up a hill. However, this one kept stalking us until we had finished our ice creams, haha.
It was starting to get dark and we went back to the ferry. The sky was painted in red, pink and orange. It was so beautiful…

Sunset at Miyajima
The beautiful evening sky. ☆

The moon had come out and the view upon the island was very beautiful from the boat. I hope to one day return to Miyajima and spend more time there. It was such a magical place…
We took the train back to Nishi-Hiroshima, where a kind man helped us find the right tram back. We decided to get off at Hondori, at the Sun Mall, to find a place to eat, but that turned out not to be so simple. Hiroshima is very different from Osaka and Tokyo in many ways. Even the neon advertisements seemed less colourful. Finding a restaurant anywhere didn’t seem to be so easy, until I spotted a guy holding a big sign with a menu of a restaurant nearby. Never during our trips did we visit a restaurant based on a menu someone was holding up in the street. Somehow, my mom and I never felt comfortable enough to just take the risk. But the menu the guy was holding seemed so appealing (plus we were really hungry) that we decided to go for it! Go us, taking risks! x) The kind guy smiled at us and showed us the entrance to the restaurant, which was just around the corner. It was called ‘Watami’ and the same menu was placed outside the door as well. We entered and had to climb down a set of stairs. For a moment I was really doubting whether this had been a good idea, when we stood before the entrance in a small hallway. However, we were immediately welcomed by a friendly waitress and she walked us through the restaurant, which seemed to be made up of a maze of small hallways with booths with seats. We were seated in a bigger booth with several tables and soon received a menu (with English texts as well, which really helped). Man, was this menu big! There were sooo many choices! And the prices were really good too. For a moment, we wondered whether this was too good to be true, but it seemed legit, so yay!

Isn’t this menu huge!? *o*

There were so many amazing things to choose from I almost got overwhelmed. x) In the end, my mom and I decided to both get three things and just share. We both got a salad, my mom chose sardines and fried rice triangles and I chose fried chicken and gyoza. We had to wait for a while until we could place our order, because they didn’t hear the bell the first time. Once our food arrived, the whole tale was filled! Especially my mom’s salad was a shock: it turned out to be huge! But since we shared everything and were very hungry, we were quite happy about it. ^^

Some ‘foodporn’ shots. :3

We paid and left the restaurant. We took the tram back to our hotel, where we tried the leaf-shaped cakes and I took purchase pictures. The next day we would head to Kyoto and since it had been a long day, we went to sleep. It had been a wonderful day…

Purchases of the Day
Purchases of the day

And to end this post with, here is the video I made about our adventures in Hiroshima! I filmed a lot and tried to make the best videos I could about our trip. I hope you will like it! ♡
You can find day 6 from 1:23 until the end. Please take a look if you want! ♡

Thank you for reading! ~☆~


  1. If you're still interested: the protesters you saw in Hiroshima were opposed to the restarting of 2 nuclear reactors in Sendai near Kagoshima, south Kyushu.