Japan 2010:
Day 4 - Hiroshima


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Japan 2010: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Osaka & Kobe] [Day 3 - Kyoto & Nara] [Day 4 - Hiroshima] [Day 5 - Tokyo Tower] [Day 6 - Mt. Fuji] [Day 7 - Tokyo] [Day 8 - Ginza]

Wednesday, February 24: It was another beautiful sunny day in Japan and we were at Kyoto Station again. We used our Japan Rail Pass again to book reserved green car seats on the shinkansen to Hiroshima.
Here's our trusty chariot now.
It's a comfortable ride indeed.
Breakfast was hot royal milk tea and a delicious assortment of sandwiches.
We passed Himeji and spotted Himeji Castle on the hill in the distance.
A short time later, we were pulling into Hiroshima.
From Hiroshima Station, we caught a tram that took us right to the Hiroshima Peace Park.
If you're going to visit the Peace Park, here's how you do it -- take line 2 or 6 and get off at the Atomic Bomb Dome. Bring exact change and pay at the front of the tram as you get off the tram. The trams are located at the far left as you leave the station. If you arrive by shinkansen, you have to walk to the other end of the station. We were surprised at how easy it was.
As promised, the Atomic Bomb Dome is right across the street from the tram stop. It is the very first thing you encounter at the north end of the Peace Park.
This bombed-out building is all that remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. Also known as the Genbaku Dome, it has been turned into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
A display shows the building before and after the atomic bomb explosion of August 6, 1945.
The park itself is primarily located on an island in the river.
But before heading over a bridge to get there, we visited the Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students first.
Strings of origami cranes have been created and left here to pay tribute to the victims. We saw the same thing in Nagasaki in 2008.
In the heart of the Peace Park, facing south, the Eternal Flame, Memorial Cenograph, and museum building are visible in the distance.
Here is the Memorial Cenotaph with a stone casket containing a list of victims.
This building is the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. The glass sculpture on the top of the primarily underground building is a large clock displaying 8:15, the time that the bombing occurred.
Just south of the museum, the park ends with this fountain.
Here is the entrance to the museum. The entrance fee was 100 yen for both of us, or about a dollar.
The museum was very moving, as you might expect. This watch is permanently set to 8:15 AM.
Two models showed the area covered by the Peace Park.
This is before the bombing, with the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall at the top left, ...
... and the same area after, with the building partially intact but nearly everything else leveled.
A red ball dangling over the model shows where the hypocenter of the blast was.
Several walls displayed copies of hundreds of letters written by the mayors of Hiroshima to international heads of state every time their nation performed an atomic bomb test.
As of May 26, 2009, 594 letters had been sent, most recently to Kim Jong-Il of North Korea. We were shocked to see how many had been sent to our own presidents.
We spent a long time in the museum, then strolled back north through the park.
It was a warm, clear day with trees in bloom ...
... but there were reminders everywhere of the seriousness of the surroundings. This is the Atomic Bomb Memorial Dome containing the cremated remains of thousands of victims.
This is the Peace Bell, ...
... and this is one last look across the river at the Atomic Bomb Dome, with the buildings of modern Hiroshima behind it.
By now, we were ready for lunch so we found an underground mall and asked the information desk where we could find a restaurant serving okonomiyaki, a layered dish famous in Hiroshima. We were directed to a tiny place with these pictures out front. We got one of these ...
... and one of these. Both contained fried squid, raw squid, raw shrimp, sliced pork, and egg, but one had a green onion base and one had a cabbage base. They featured different sauces and toppings as well.
We watched our food being made on the grill a few feet away from our table.
Both okonomiyaki were served cut into smaller pieces, but eating them with chopsticks was a challenge. They were delicious and extremely filling, and we washed them down with ginger ale.
From the mall, we walked north a few blocks to Hiroshima Castle. Yes, there's the required moat.
And we're walking ...
... and we're stopping for another closeup of flowers.
There it is in the distance, quite unfortunately obscured by trees.
There it is again. It's either four or five stories tall and there's a lookout on top. We must go there.
After the steep climb (and a few stops on well-placed benches), we made it to the top, a wonderland of vending machines and toy dispensers.
There is a narrow lookout deck on all sides.
We looked south, right into the sun. The Peace Park is hidden by the baseball stadium at the right.
Looking to the northwest ...
... and to the northeast.
Looking down, two groups of school children were leaving, one set in red hats and one set in white.
From here, we could see most of the castle grounds. We were headed to the east exit to start the mile-long walk back to the train station.
But first, let's visit the restroom. The ladies room was fine and offered adequate privacy, but the mens room on the right -- not so much.
One of the greatest things about Japan is the accessibility for people with vision impairments. This photo was taken along the Boulevard of Culture, and you can see two different styles of textured stones -- some with straight lines on them and some with small circles. Straight lines indicate which way to walk, and the circles indicated that there was a decision to make. This could either mean that there was an intersection in the walkway (as there was here in the upper left to direct the walker to the crosswalk) or that there was a street (as there was here in the bottom). This photo was taken from a foot into the street to show the textures. Other textures indicated stairs or other obstacles.
When we arrived at the station, we booked our return shinkansen tickets and then had a beer to kill. We invoked the Stockholm variation on the Bundlings Helsinki Rule that states that a sunny day in a foreign country calls for a cold beer. We ended up in a little cafe drinking Lowenbraus for a half hour.
Shinkansen! It's always fun to see the bullet trains pull into the station.

This one is ours.

The models vary slightly, but the green car seats are always roomy and comfortable, with trays in the armrest, in the seatback in front of you, or both.
Our armrest tray allowed us to set up this photo for you. We had read that Hiroshima was also famous for momiji manjyu, a maple leaf-shaped cake. It comes with different types of fillings, but just our luck -- we got sweet bean paste filling. Yay. Tom didn't mind it but Debbie ate around it. Japanese shops are filled with beautifully wrapped gift boxes of foods, so every once in a while, we'd try a box.
The sun was setting as we crossed the river in Osaka.
Tom's GPS recorded our speed. Here we are topping out at 165 mph. Bullet trains are fast!
The Yasaka Pagoda is our clue that we're nearly at Kyoto Station.
After a while, it's easy to read the shinkansen signs. Nozomi trains are fastest and displayed in yellow, but the Japan Rail Pass doesn't cover them, so we didn't ride them.
Of course, it's easier to read when the sign changes to English.
Outside Kyoto Station, the Kyoto Tower was lit up at night.
We visited it during the day in 2008, so we thought we'd see it at night.
With a groovy blue ceiling twinkling with tiny lights, it's quite the romantic spot.
We looked down at the hotel attached to Kyoto Station, ...
... and at the street below, including the sunroof of the underground shopping mall we stumbled upon on our second day.
We recreated a shot of Kyoto Station we took in 2008.
Here's the view looking toward the Higashi Honganji Temple.
When we were done, we headed to the 100 yen store on the second floor, where we bought 15 items. Go ahead. Do the math. Our purchases included cheap earbud covers, travel tissues (like the ones Debbie bought here when she had a cold in 2008), and tiny toothpaste tubes. Next, we headed to the underground mall for some dinner.

We ended up at D's House, a cafe serving pasta.

Day 5 >


Japan 2010: [Day 1 - Tokyo] [Day 2 - Osaka & Kobe] [Day 3 - Kyoto & Nara] [Day 4 - Hiroshima] [Day 5 - Tokyo Tower] [Day 6 - Mt. Fuji] [Day 7 - Tokyo] [Day 8 - Ginza]

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