If you plan ahead and get a really early start, you can do a day trip to both Miyajima Island and Hiroshima. With Hiroshima, there are many more things to see and do than we did, but you would need a couple of days for everything.
So we actually based our trip on the tips found in this blog – apart from the fact that the train and ferry timetables have changed, it actually does set out everything you need for this long day of touristing. A tip from us is to save time when out and about, it is worth having a packed lunch of sorts: we bought the holy grail of cheese (Garlic & Herb Boursin) from one of the Liquor Mountains, and French bread. With the aid of a few things liberated from our hotel breakfast, sandwiches were made. This does mean that you don’t have to factor in sitting down and eating properly into your day and when you have veggies in your group, there is no guarantee that they’ll find a ‘grab and go’ bite – not a problem for the carnivores out there though!
It takes about 2 hours on the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima and from there, you jump on a local train to Miyajima-guchi where the easy to spot underground tunnel takes you to the JR ferry (you can use your JR pass) for a 10 minute boat ride to the island.
The main thing to look out for on Miyajima island is the O-tori – you start to see it on the boat ride, so keep your eyes peeled. On the day we went, it was rainy and overcast but this leant an ethereal, ghost-like beauty to the island and it’s surrounds. I suspect Miyajima is a bit lie Milford Sounds in New Zealand – stunning on a good day, but enveloped in a beauty of its own when the clouds bring rain. You can pick up a map of the island as soon as you get off the ferry and plan where you want to go – we kept it to a minimum of seeing the O-Torii and the shrine, as Hiroshima demanded a full afternoon.
By the way, as you walk through the row of shops to and from the ferry, keep your eyes peeled for this gem: Hiroshima Beef Steamed Bun – I wish I had eaten 3 instead of a modest 1!
Having seen the sights of Miyajima Island, we made our way back to Hiroshima and took the hop-on-hop-off bus to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial / Park. Now as much as you know in your head that this is home to one of the world’s greatest human disasters, I don’t think anything can prepare you for the actual sadness you feel when there. I left Hiroshima with a heavy heart and an interest in learning what we can do to achieve worldwide nuclear disarmament.
It didn’t feel right taking a lot of pictures in and around the Peace Park but here is a quick itinerary of what we saw and a couple of pictures.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) World Heritage Site (A-Bomb Dome)
- View of the Dome from Aioi Bridge (The suspected intended target of the Bomb)
- Peace Clock Tower
- Peace Memorial Park
- Memorial Mound, with the ashes of victims contained within
- Memorial to the Korean Victims of the bomb – accounting for around 10% of the total count
- Figurine of the Goddess of Peace
- Children’s Peace Monument
- Peace Memorial Park – the domed cenotaph contains a stone with the names of everyone who perished. The Fire will not be extinguished until the world is rid of nuclear weapons.
- Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the A-Bomb victims, with the clock depicting the time that the bomb was dropped (8.15am)
- Hiroshima Museum of Peace
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that no trip to Japan is complete without a trip to Hiroshima but it certainly lends a new perspective to the country and it is worthwhile fitting a trip into your plans.