Exploring Japan

Hiroshima : A Summer Well Spent

On board Nozomi N700 Shinkansen (bullet train), my husband and I headed to Hiroshima last Monday for a three-day holiday spree. Finally we were able to set a common time to have our week-long vacation together. We chose Hiroshima because of its history, relaxing environment, and a lot of interesting sightseeing spots.

Nozomi N700 Shinkansen: Our ride to Hiroshima

Hiroshima in Summer 

We reached Hiroshima city around lunchtime but since we were too early to check-in in our hotel, we decided to start our city tour.  The hotel gave us a free Hiroshima Omotenashi Pass (HOP) that gave us unlimited access to the city tram for one day. Our first stop was the Atomic Bomb Dome. It is one of the few remaining infrastructures which survived the nuclear bombing incident in 1945. The location of the dome used to be the city center that catered to major businesses and government offices. At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945, it suffered from great devastation brought by the nuclear bombing, the world’s first atomic bomb to hit a city. At present, it was reconstructed as the Memorial Peace Park in commemoration of the said incident.

Enjoying Hiroshima City through Omotenashi (city tram)
Remembering that “Day” in the A-bomb Dome

After an hour or so walk around the Memorial Park, we went back to our hotel to check-in and to have a quick rest. Afterwards, we continued with our city tour. We went to Shukkeien Garden which is less than a kilometer away from our hotel by foot. It is a traditional Japanese garden with a big pond surrounded by beautiful Bonsai pine trees. Although the garden was destroyed during the bombing, efforts especially by the Hiroshima Prefectural Board of Education were undertaken to restore its original beauty and structure prior to the bombing.

A peaceful and relaxing afternoon walk in Shukkeien Garden

After spending some time in Shukkeien Garden, we walked further going to Hiroshima Castle. We went around the castle grounds and then saw the exhibition inside the Castle Tower. After that we went back to Hiroshima station to have a taste of the infamous Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, pancake layered with shredded cabbage; egg noodles; bean sprouts; thin sliced of pork topped with sweet sauce and mayonnaise.

The tower of Hiroshima Castle from the ground
The mouth-watering Okonomiyaki cooked the Hiroshima way!
In front of the gates of Hiroshima Castle

Early morning the next day, we rode the city tram again going to Miyajimaguchi or Miyajima Port and then took the ferry going to Miyajima island. The island is home to a number of important cultural heritage sites most especially the O-Torii Gate of the Itsukushima Shrine which stands on the ocean. Upon reaching the island, we were welcomed by adorable deers. We visited several shrines and temples and went to Mt. Misen, the highest mountain on the island by ropeway. On our way back to the pier, we decided to walk down through the Momijidani (Japanese Maple trees) Park. And before we boarded the ferry back to Hiroshima city, we tried the island’s grilled oysters.

Adorable deers welcoming the visitors of Miyajima island
While adoring this deer, I did not realize that it started opening my bag!
Locals and foreigners enjoying the O-Torii Gate on low tide
Walking inside the Itsukushima Shrine
The 500 Buddhas of Daishoin Temple
Enjoying the ropeway ride going to Mt. Misen
A festive sight for girls: Gorgeous men on top of the rocks of Mt. Misen Observatory Peak
Fresh oysters grilled and served in Miyajima island

On our third day, since we only have less than four hours before aboard the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, we spent our time touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and a short visit to the city’s shopping district in Kamiyacho. On board the Shinkansen, we enjoyed another Hiroshima local food which is the anago meshi or conger eel bento

One of the exhibits inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum: Cranes made by a girl named Sadako, one of the victims of the bombing incident
Enjoying the vibrant and busy shopping streets in Kamiyacho, Hiroshima
The delicious Anago Meshi or conger eel

Tokyo Summer Walk 

Back in Tokyo and with a few more vacation days left, my husband and I went to our usual city tour. First we had a nice sushi lunch in our usual restaurant in Ueno and then walked to Akihabara. A few meters away from Akihabara station, we discovered a newly-opened food store named  Chabara. Out of curiosity, we entered the store and were amazed to find out that it is a specialty store which offers delicatessen or special and popular food, drinks, spices, and produce from the different regions in Japan. Inside the store were a number of restaurants too.

Inside Chabara: Delicious peanuts from Chiba
Meet Pepper, the world’s first emotion-reader robot developed by Softbank

After exploring the electronics shops in Akihabara, we took the Hibiya subway train to Roppongi. It had been a while since I have been to this place. But since we were still recovering from our Hiroshima trip, we just went straight to Roppongi Midtown to greet Godzilla.

It’s Doraemon Festival in Roppongi Hills!
A small girl giving her respect to Godzilla

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