Our second destination in Japan was Hiroshima, just a few hours south of Osaka.
We arrived in the morning and dropped off our bags at the Washington Hotel in the downtown area.
Hiroshima is a small modern city as the majority of the city was destroyed by the atomic bomb during World War II in 1945. The city almost had an eerie calmness to it. Since the city is small, most attractions are within walking distance.
We walked to the Hiroshima Castle grounds where there’s now a replica of the original castle, which dated back to the 1590’s, since it was destroyed during WWII. There are also a few willow trees on the grounds that survived the attack.
Then we visited the newly opened Orizuru Tower where they have an amazing view of the city with a really cool observation deck. Different floors of the tower have attractions such as origami folding stations, other exhibitions, and general information about the city.
Right next to the Orizuru Tower is the Atomic Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The ruins are pretty much the only thing remaining after the atomic bomb attack where over 70,000 people perished instantly and the same amount of people later suffered injuries from radiation. It serves as a memorial for all the innocent lives that were lost.
Within the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the Children’s Peace Monument commemorates Sadako Sasaki, a young girl that died from radiation from the attack, along with all the children lost. Before she passed she envisioned creating a thousand cranes where Japanese tradition says that in doing so, a wish would be granted; her wish was a world without nuclear weapons. Now, there are thousands of origami cranes from all over the world offered around the monument.
At the far end of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park lies the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum which was unfortunately closed during our visit. Without a doubt, this is a must for future tourists.
For lunch, we went to a hole in the wall spot near our hotel for spicy ramen noodles and tsutkmen (ramen with dipping sauce). Delicious!
We also saw the cutest Shiba Inu after lunch!
Since we were tired from traveling in the morning, we decided to relax at the hotel until dinner time. We went to Hassei, a popular okonomiyaki restaurant. Even though we had okonomiyaki twice in Osaka, Hiroshima style is slightly different. While they use similar ingredients, Hiroshima style layers each ingredient rather than mixing them and includes noodles (yakisoba or udon).
The following day, we started off by going on a 5.5 mile run around the city. The city has a pathway along the river which ended up being a great route. After we had breakfast and we were ready to explore!
We spent the entire day exploring Miyajima Island, an island about 40 minutes from Hiroshima (train then ferry) known for forests, ancient temples, and friendly deer.
The Hiroshima area is known for manjū, a Japanese confection made from rice flour, rice powder, kudzu, and buckwheat with an anko bean filling. Now they have a variety of flavors such as green tea, fruit, and even cheese!
The island’s most famous Shinto shrine is Itsukushima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dating back to 593. Stunning.
Unfortunately, the beautiful floating torii gate was under construction but this is what it would have looked like otherwise.
We walked around a few more sites such as Senjokaku Pavilion before heading to Mount Misen.
Mount Misen, the sacred mountain of the island, is first accessible by a cable car ride. However, to go up further and reach the summit, you have to hike which takes around 30 minutes or so. It actually happened to be a great little daytime workout!
We ended the day walking around the small city center to look at various shops and get some snacks.
Later that evening, we dined at Seasonal Cuisine Nakashima for a traditional kaiseki meal.
We both enjoyed Hiroshima and Miyajima Island as the city offered cultural insight and the island showcased its natural beauty with historic shrines. Without a doubt, I would love to return to both of these places!