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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Hiroshima

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Hiroshima, Japan - 2015

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 18/04/2015 03:18:43

As we sat on the bullet train on our way to Hiroshima we found ourselves assaulted by an experience for the first time whilst in Japan. A bunch of disrespectful commuters. I'm not sure if they were Japanese, but from the minute that sat down on the train they were loud and obnoxious - immediately cracking open some beers and laughing boisterously at their hilarious jokes. Their faces quickly turning red after a second beer I was caught hoping that they would be getting off at a different stop - but no, they were bound for Hiroshima. Sure, I have no idea who they were and where they were going - and they took their trash with them (which you probably wouldn't see from the Melbourne bogans) - but after being spoilt with quiet trains for so long, this was quite a shock.

Our first stop was the island of Miyajima (which translates to shrine island) the home of the Itsukushima Shrine - and a very striking torii gate out on the water. I timed our visit so we would be there at high tide - and the gate did look pretty majestic floating off the coast.

At low tide in the right season you can walk out and touch the gate - but we didn't have all day unfortunately

What a co-incidence, if you look directly straight at this sculpture you can see the gate through the hole. I wonder if anyone else has discovered this

I wanted to try the Hiroshima-specific style of okonomiyaki - where they do not mix the ingredients before cooking, instead working with layers. What better place than the Okonomi-Mura (or okonomiyaki republic) with many vendors wanting our business. We choose one by random and it was delicious - we asked for one with soba and one with udon noodles (expecting the soba to be more tasty). For the first time ever, udon tasted the better noodle to Pao and my general surprise. We finished our beers and made our way to the main event of this day trip.

More Pancakes
Watching them make it in front of you help me remember that I could never be a chef

Of course, the main reason for visiting Hiroshima is to learn more about the devastating effect of the dropping of an atomic bomb on a populated city. I've visited the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau, so I wasn't expecting this to be a fun-filled afternoon. What I did find was a heap of interesting and beautiful monuments built to remember those that had perished and promote a message of peace. I think that not going with a guided tour helped us to avoid most of the devastating stories - but it was still quite shocking in parts (especially in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)- but on the whole I felt more hopeful than hopeless.

The point where the bomb exploded (well, it exploded 600 meters above this point for maximum impact)

The Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students, designed to honor the middle school and older students that were required to work in Hiroshima for demolition duties as part of the war effort

Aioi Bridge was the original target for the atomic bomb

The A-Bomb Dome as viewed from Aioi Bridge. There was a bit of debate as to whether or not they should destroy the remains of this building after the blast. It is currently covered in scaffolding for strength testing

The point where the hammer strikes to ring the Peace Bell

The Korean Monument - a turtle taking the souls to the afterlife

The Children's Monument - a cool rocket ship

I had read about the Rest house - which was originally a kimono store before being commandeered as part of the war and used for fuel distribution. The store was very close to the blast, and while the building stood everybody inside died - except for one man that was in the basement at the time. We were able to head down to the basement and it was somewhat eerie - but certainly an interesting experience.

Rest House
The Rest house today

Stairs down to the basement, foreboding

We spent a bit of time in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum - one of the wings was closed so it got pretty packed in there. Some of the pictures of bomb victims were frightening, it's still extremely difficult to imagine what it would be like to be amongst all that devastation. I think the most amazing display for me was a model of Hiroshima with an estimate of the size of the fireball from the bomb at its largest point. I'm glad that most of the world agrees that detonation of another nuclear bomb is in no-one's interest - let's just hope it stays that way.

A photo taken of Hiroshima before...

... and after the bomb

As a change of pace I had planned for us to head to see the first innings of a baseball game that the Hiroshima Carp were playing. Firstly - awesome name and mascot for the Hiroshima Carp - that's a team I can get behind. Pao was a little unsure as to whether she was going to enjoy this part of the trip - but we both loved it. A truly unique experience for us (neither of us have been to a baseball game) made even more interesting by not being able to understand any of the language. The snacks were different, the crowd was chanting something to the tune of step in time (which we participated in - with incorrect words but no less vigour) and we got to watch a run by the home side. I'm disappointed we were only able to watch the one innings, but very pleased we were able to see what we did.

The "Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium", I guess it could be worse

These were pretty tasty - but I was keen for something else by the end of the cup

Go Carp - don't bite that hook!

This is the 15th in the Super Fun Chronological Japan Travel Catalogue series
GET 1 - Nikko, Japan - 2015GET 2 - Ueno (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 3 - Akihabara (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 4 - Ginza (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 5 - Asakusa (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 6 - Shinjuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 7 - Harajuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 8 - Shibuya (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 9 - Odaiba (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 10 - Kawaguchiko (Five Lakes), Japan - 2015GET 11 - Yokohama, Japan - 2015GET 12 - Kamakura, Japan - 2015GET 13 - Osaka, Japan - 2015GET 14 - Kobe, Japan - 2015GET 15 - Hiroshima, Japan - 2015GET 16 - Himeji & Nara, Japan - 2015GET 17 - Kyoto, Japan - 2015GET 18 - Iga, Japan - 2015GET 19 - Nagoya, Japan - 2015GET 20 - Takayama & Gero, Japan - 2015GET 21 - Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015

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