Hiroshima and Miyajima Island

Hiroshima

Arriving early on the 8am shinkansen (2 hours) from Kyoto, we went straight to yet another K’s House where we had a flash double room this time, with our own bathroom, TV, A/C and huge bed! After dropping our bags off we headed straight to the Green Arena for the Sumo Tournament. The performances included displays of comic sumo and traditional sumo songfests in addition to the normal sumo bouts. There were some BIG boys there…over 2m tall and over 200Kgs…we both got photos with a couple of them! It was really interesting to watch and the crowd was loving it. The east and west champions were both there. Last year they held this sumo tour but before that there hadn’t been sumo in hiroshima in 10 years.

Afterwards we went to the Peace Park and Memorial Museum. We learnt about the first atomic bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and since then the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction. The destructive power of the bomb was tremendous and obliterated nearly everything within a two kilometer radius. We got the English audio guides that were describing stories that accompanied items like bits of kids lunch boxes that the only way to identify the charred bodies. So sad, so gruesome. It was a pretty full on experience so we just wondered downtown to Hondori Street a covered arcade street and looked around for a while.

Victor (Emily’s brother) worked at an Irish Pub called Molly Mallones in Hiroshima so we went to find it and say hi to everyone there for him! The manager was still there and was really happy to see us. He had traveled with Victor to Osaka so seemed to be pretty good friends. There was a Australia vs NZ rugby game being broadcast live from Japan and it was Halloween so there were heaps of people there and lots of people were in crazy outfits. We were planning on going to Club Chinatown for their big Halloween party so we went home for a bit to eat and a few drinks….we didn’t make it out….

Miyajima Island: “shrine-island”

Today we had our first self cooked breakfast, all trip we have been lashing out and eating out for every meal because they are so tastey! But it was about time we started on the coffee and toast backpacker’s diet. After breaky we caught the train to Miyajima station to get the ferry over to the island. It was pissing down! The trip over on the barge is only about 10min. Once on the island we walked up the main street that is jammed packed with food stalls selling oysters, octopus and fish cakes as well as sweets and souviener shops. There is a huge spoon there that is like 17m long or something that is a symbol of good fortune so every shops sells little replicas. On the other end of this street is the Itsukushima Shrine and Tori Gate.

“The shrine and its torii gate are unique for being built over water, seemingly floating in the sea during high tide. The shrine complex consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, main hall and a noh theater stage, which are connected with each other by boardwalks and are all supported by pillars above the sea.”

It was low tide when we got there, which is good because you can go out and touch the Tori gate, but not so good for photography and views because nothing is floating anymore! We watched some ceremony at the shrine where a family with little girls and boys were dressed up in Kimonos and stuff. The priest waved a feather duster looking thing over the kids, beat a big drum and chanted for a while…really interesting! The rain really put a dampener (haha) on the trip because there was no visiblity. There is a high cable ropecar on top of the mountain and lots of hiking trails to lookouts, but today we couldn’t see a thing, so we didn’t bother going up. There are also many not-so-wild deer on the island.

That night we went out to Okonomi-mura where 27 stalls sell Okonomiyaki are added which can vary greatly (anything from meat and seafood to wasabi and cheese). This variability is reflected in the dish’s name; “okonomi” literally means “to one’s liking”. In Hiroshima the Okonomiyaki is made with seperate layers of ingredients stacked on top of each other. Osaka have a type of Okonomiyaki too but theirs is all mixed together. After dinner we went to Kareoke and hired a private booth and belted out some tunes (well Chris did, Emily wailed some out of tune noises). We are going back to Kyoto via Hemiji in the morning, so back to our hostel room to pack.