We have survived Hiroshima. I’m dedicating this blog to my friend Angela, to whom I am eternally grateful for impressing upon me the importance of making this pilgrimage with Chase and Cliff. There is a lot to show and tell, so between trying to provide useful information along with my own impressions, I’m just going to ramble until my fingers get tired.
Step 1: Go to JTB and make reservation
The people at JTB are very polite and helpful. At JTB, I was able to
- Book room at the Sheraton Hiroshima (w/ Breakfast)
- Shinkansen tickets
- Miyajima Ferry tickets (round trip)
- Miyajima Ropeway tickets
It can be a little overwhelming leaving the office with all these tickets and vouchers in Japanese, but I wrote a little note on each ticket reminding me what they were all for in English. They will also give you a medium, red envelope to keep everything organized. Note: Keep the envelope! Take it with you everywhere. Trust me on this. I’m sure there are other nice places to stay in Hiroshima, but this Sheraton is the nicest Sheraton I’ve ever seen and it’s only a year and half old! We had breakfast included in our package and the breakfast was more than adequate. If you are thinking you want to eat dinner in the restaurant, definitely make reservations. Our first night, as we were walking in, Chase was mesmerized by their chocolate fountain and begged us to eat dinner there. To bad so sad, restaurant was booked solid. The other reason that makes Sheraton the best place to stay is you exit the Hiroshima station on the Shinkansen side and walk out and turn right and there it is! No muss no fuss. 3 minute walk max.
- Saturday 8:21am Leave Shinagawa Station
- 12:14pm Arrive Hiroshima Station
- Drop off bags at Sheraton
- Eat lunch at a station restaurant
- Get on Tram to Hiroshima Park/Museum
- Back to hotel around 7pm
Step 2: Eat the Famous Food
I love food. Living in Japan has inspired an appreciation for establishments and regions which are “famous for” this dish or that. So especially when I travel, I always research what the area is known for food-wise. In Hiroshima, they like their OKONOMIYAKI:
Here’s something no mother should ever witness:
Alas, when in Rome…
I swear I never saw the 5th ingredient listed when I first looked at this diagram! Oh well. Vacation rules, right?
Step 3: Sightseeing
Note: In Japan, many of the hotels won’t let you check into your room until after 3pm, but standard procedure is to arrive early and just leave your bags at the front desk. They’ll tag them and put them into your room once the room is ready.
Hiroshima station was very confusing to me. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like a lot of options. I’m better picking 1 out of 3. Chase also has a good case of “analysis paralysis”. From Hiroshima Station, you can take the shinkansen, subway train, JR train, the local tram, bus and taxi anywhere. Taxis are easiest but the priciest. We opted for the Tram (150 yen/person) which is a local trolley-type transport through the city. From the hotel side, go into the station and head for the JR side. This requires going underground and through a tunnel. Look for signs saying Mazda Stadium. Keep your eyes open for directions to the JR train area. Look anywhere you see escalators. Once you are in that area, go outside of the station and you should see a bunch of tracks built into the street for the trams. Make sure you get onto the right one. We boarded and discovered we were on the wrong one. The Japanese are very helpful so don’t hesitate to ask directions. Hiroshima is a small city, so everything is pretty close. We were able to explore Hiroshima museum and visit several memorials before we headed back.
I would highly recommend renting the audio guides. Walking through the museum and listening to all the history and testimonials was incredibly emotional and thought-provoking. I found myself holding back tears many times. There were so many bits and pieces left behind. There just aren’t enough words.
This scene depicting moments after the bomb was especially gruesome. It’s so surreal seeing what it might have been like.
By the time we were finished at the museum, we were definitely ready for some park time. The park was a refreshing contrast to the depressing feelings inside the museum. Behind us is the eternal flame of Hiroshima which will not be extinguished until all nuclear weapons are destroyed. Hope they have a lot of gas reserved.
Almost 30% of the deaths in Hiroshima from the bomb were Korean “Forced Laborers”. This memorial is established for those Koreans who also suffered and died. I’m so glad we were able to come see it and pay our respects.
This memorial was inspired by a young girl named Sadako Sasaki who died a terrible death from leukemia as a result of radiation exposure. People line up to ring the bell inside and say a short prayer. Chase was excited to do this because he had studied Sadako’s story last year at school.
The Genbaku Dome (A Bomb Dome) is probably one of the most famous and recognizable landmarks of Hiroshima. It is truly a symbol of all the destruction brought about by the dropping of the bomb. About a week before we came to Hiroshima, I watched a 3 hour documentary with Chase and Cliff. It was so emotional and really added to our awareness before we were able to go and visit the site and see actual materials from the devastation. It’s not my place to say whether or not it was the right thing to do. All I know, is war is horrible and should be avoided at all costs. As we walked through the town of Hiroshima, I kept flashing back to scenes and testimonials from the documentary and the museum and it was all so meaningful. It’s truly incredible how this city managed to come back after being completely destroyed not that long ago. I’m so happy I went.
Until next time…