=== Hiroshima ===
As I awoke at around 7am, I could not remember where we were or which hotel we were in. I quickly went through the hotels in my mind before remembering we were in Kyoto (or Tokyo as Christopher prefers to call it).
We rose at 7.15 and left the hotel at about 7.45 to catch to the subway to Kyoto station. We bought some breakfast on our way to eat on the shinkansen.
While waiting for our train, we took some photos of the bullet trains
At Hiroshima, we bought a street car one day pass and headed for the A-bomb dome. The A-bomb dome was constructed in 1915 and became a treasured landmark for Hiroshima. It is situated approximately 160m from the hypocentre of the atomic bomb dropped over Japan at 8.15am on 6th August 1945. It exploded approximately 600 metres above Hiroshima and completely wiped out Hiroshima within a 2km radius of the hypocentre. It is believed that 140,000 people lost their lives either during the blast or as a direct result of exposure to radiation by December 1945. Those 3km from the blast might have survived, but were serverely burned and some lost their lives from the acute effects of radiation over the coming weeks.
The main structure of the A-bomb dome remains in place and in 1996 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It now received funding to be maintained to how it was left following the atomic bomb. This monument stands as a reminder of the devastating effects of nuclear weapons, and a request for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
After looking at the A-bomb dome, we crossed the river and entered the Peace Park. We looked at the flowers around the Cenotaph, which were still relatively fresh from the memorial service which had taken place on Monday.
Cenotaph remembering all of the A-bomb victims
In the centre of the park sits the Cenotaph, which is a coffin shaped memorial which holds a list of the names of all the victims of the A-bomb. Towards the back of the park, overlooking the Cenotaph is the memorial museum. Entry to this is only 50 yen!
This exhibition went into great detail about Hiroshima before the bomb from about 1850, explaining that it had become a military base, with most of the troops leaving and returning to Japan through her ports. This was partly why it ended up becoming the US target for the A-bomb.
Replica model showing the damage caused to Hiroshima by the A-bomb
It showed a scale replica of Hiroshima and the damage caused, with the hypocentre marked on and the bomb 600m above. There were various testimonies from survivors outside the 2km radius and a watch which broke at exactly 8.15am when the blast hit. It also followed the lives of a few of the initial survivors and saw how they were affected of the days, weeks, months and years from the radiation exposure. There were various objects recovered from the blast, including a lot of clothes. There were photos of the burns sustained by some of the victims.
After the Peace Park memorial museum, we visited the National Hall, which contains information and photos of all the victims of the A-bomb and various testimonies and memoirs.
In the centre there is a 360° view of photos of the bombed city, with a fountain in the middle showing the time of 8.15 with water to represent the victims who died begging for water.
We headed out back into the park where earlier, we had been greeted by a young girl aged about 6 who asked us a questionnaire about our visit to Hiroshima in perfect English and it looked as though she had written the questions herself!
We bought some lunch at Lawsons before catching a street car (tram) to the JR station Yokogawa in order to catch a train to Miyajima-Guchi.
=== Miyajima ===
At Miyajima-Guchi station, we caught the JR ferry to the island Miyajima. As we got off of the ferry, there was an interesting sign saying no touching or teasing. On closer inspection we realised it was referring to the deer that roam freely on the island. We walked a little further before Chris made friends with one of the deer. It was quite interested in Chris, particularly his hanging backsatchel strap.
Chris’ new friend
We carried on walking round to the shrine, stopping along the way for a paddle in the sea. The gate to Itsukushima shrine stands in the water unsupported and looks beautiful and surprisingly natural.
We carried on round the shrine and walked along the verandas, which stood on stilts over the water. The wooden frame of this shrine was painted bright orange and matched the gate.
Chris and I in front of the gate
The shrine with its verandas in the water
Afterwards we meandered back to the port through the busy shopping street before catching the ferry back to the station and the train back to Hiroshima.
Once back at Hiroshima station, we had an hour to kill before our train at 17.48. We went to the department store across the road called Fukuyama and searched for the stationery department, which turned out to be on the 11th floor.
We left at around 17.340 for our 17.48 train; however it wasn’t appearing on the board, only a train at 17.47. Confused, we had another look at our tickets and realised we’d been given Kyoto to Hiroshima reservations again, despite us showing the man our outbound tickets.
We decided to board the 17.51 without reserved tickets and hope we would not be left standing for 2 hours. We stood behind some seats of the back of the carriage until the first stop 20 minutes later when we were able to get seats. We had to change at Shin-Osaka but managed to get another seat. We arrived back in Kyoto nearly half an hour earlier than expected at 19.55.
We headed up the station building to see Kyoto by night; however this was nothing too spectacular as there was a distinct lack of neon lights and signs.
We decided for dinner we would have a nice McDonalds, which Chris had craved all day. Afterwards we returned to our hotel.