It seemed a shame to go all the way to Kyoto without making the trip to Hiroshima. You can get there on the bullet train with your Japan Rail Pass in 2.5 hours and book your train in advance.
We left at around 8am, arrived at 10.30 and jumped on a train to Miyajima to catch the 10 minute ferry to Miyajima island (all included pm the Japan Rail Pass). You could spend all day on the island exploring but we spent around 3 hours (time it for the ferry/train back) so we could spend the afternoon in Hiroshima.
The island has a number of shrines and temples, including the famous floating shrine (£3 to enter) of Itsukushima-jinji, although you cannot enter when the tide is high! Queues can be long and we wandered around all the shinto gates.
If you have time, I would recommend hiking Misen or getting the ropeways up to the top. which then leaves you a 20 minute walk.
We visited the Daisho-in shrine first which was the futherest away from the ferry and the bottom of the climb to Misen. It provided lovely views and you have to check out the Buddha statute, which have hats on that were knitted by the monks.
There a number of shops and restaurants near the exit from the ferry – we ended up eating at a cute restaurant where you can sit on the floor and we had some lovely tonkatsu.
Another highlight of the island are the deer that wander around and are generally harmless – there are notices up not to feed them though!
After our visit to the island, we travelled back to Hiroshima station and took a tram (number 712) to the Peace Memorial Park. It was absolutely stunning – the Atomic Bomb Dome has been kept intact (there was a lot of indecision at the time of WW2 as to whether or not to preserve the remains or to knock it down completely) and stands proud in the city as one of the few buildings left anywhere near the epicentre.
The park contains a burning “flame of peace”, which will continue to burn until nuclear weapons are destroyed. One of the main arches in the park ties in the atomic bomb dome, the cenotpah and the flame.
The Peace Memorial Museum was quite clearly tough to experience and read about but they have presented the memorial as a sign of peace and moving on, rather than an overview of Japan’s version of events in the war. It provides a depressing reminder of the effects of war.
There are also many groups of school children visiting Hiroshima for the day who are so enthusiastic to chat to tourists, practice their English and ask some questions. They gave us a little peace bookmark for our time, which was so sweet.
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