Friday, 25 September 2015

Hiroshima and Matsuyama 5-Day Itinerary: Day One

Read Day 1 here - Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Manga Library
Read Day 2 here - Miyajima, Mount Misen
Read Day 3 here - Ferry to Matsuyama
Read Day 4 here - Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, Ishiteji Temple
Read Day 5 here - Return journey

Silver Week happens every few years when three public holidays follow a weekend making a five day holiday. We were able to take advantage of these five days to explore Hiroshima (広島), Miyajima (宮島)and Matsuyama (松山). Keep in mind that Silver Week is one of the busiest holidays after Golden Week in Japan so book your accommodations and transport tickets ahead of time! Many hostels in popular cities like Kyoto (京都)may be booked out weeks ahead of time.

Hiroshima Station
This trip was done without the Japan Rail Pass because I did not qualify for one so the prices and budgets may vary if you are using one. We pre-booked our hostels in Hiroshima and Matsuyama about a month before the trip and bought Shinakansen tickets from Himeji (姫路) to Hiroshima about two weeks ahead. This may not be necessary but there was a long queue at the station so it is best to be prepared if it can be pre-booked.

We started off our journey in Himeji and took the Shinkansen to Hiroshima which took about one hour (7770 yen). We arrived in Hiroshima in the afternoon and proceeded to find lunch. There was a tourist booth outside the JR Hiroshima Station and I asked the person for recommendations to eat the famous okonomiyaki. He pointed us to Ekimae Hiroshima Okonimi-hiroba which was just across the street from the station.

Oyster okonomiyaki
Taking the elevator up to the 6th floor, we found many okonomiyaki shops. We didn't really know how to choose among them so we chose one with enough seats for the three of us and assumed they all tasted good. I ordered the oyster okonomiyaki because oyster is another thing Hiroshima is famous for. For 1500 yen, the okonomiyaki had six plump oysters and I was happily full.

Next we walked back to the JR station to the Shinkansen-guchi exit where the Hotel Granvia was to find the Hiroshima Meipuru-pu (sightseeing loop bus). A one-day pass cost 400 yen and it took us to various sightseeing spots without having to look up directions. However, the bus is not as frequent as other modes of public transport so you may not want to opt for the loop bus if you are tight on time.

Atomic Bomb Dome
We first went to the Atomic Bomb Dome and walked toward the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Although there were a lot of tourists, the Peace Park was big so we did not feel crowded. As well, everyone was respectfully reading the plaques and moving along.

On the way to the museum we past by the Children's Peace Monument and the Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims. The Fountain of Prayer is on the other side of the museum coming from the A-bomb Dome.

Children's Peace Monument
The museum cost 50 yen and lockers were free to use with a 100 yen coin that was refunded when unlocked. At the entrance of the museum were photographs of the mushroom cloud caused by the bomb and the inside talked more in detail about the bomb itself and the aftermath. In addition to the model of the city to show where the bomb was dropped and how much it destroyed, one of the most powerful pieces for me were the roof tiles that were warped into unrecognizable shapes from the extreme heat. If sturdy roof tiles could be changed like this, I cannot even begin to imagine what the people felt at the time.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
A meipuru-pu bus stop is near the Fountain of Prayer and the museum so we boarded that and went to Hiyajima Koen where the public Manga Library is. I personally don't read manga but it was pretty interesting to see this public library filled with manga when I usually associate public libraries with different types of books not exclusive to manga.

For dinner we tried another famous Hiroshima dish called Tsukemen which are cold noodles served with a dipping sauce on the side. We could choose the spiciness level and the sauce had many sesame seeds.

We walked back to the JR station and took the Sanyo Line to Miyajimaguchi Station to find our hostel for two nights called Backpackers Miyajima. The train ride was about 30 minutes and cost 410 yen. The staff was very friendly and I was surprised they even knew me by name after the first night!

View from rooftop of Backpackers Miyajima
Read Day 1 here - Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Manga Library
Read Day 2 here - Miyajima, Mount Misen
Read Day 3 here - Ferry to Matsuyama
Read Day 4 here - Matsuyama Castle, Dogo Onsen, Ishiteji Temple
Read Day 5 here - Return journey
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