My imagination for a good title fails me!!

Trip Start Aug 07, 2011
Trip End Jul 14, 2012

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Flag of Japan  , Chugoku,
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Andy here today!

We left Osaka on Tuesday 17th bound for Hiroshima. 300km and just an hour later we arrived and headed to our hotel. We only had two days in Hiroshima and so as soon as we were in we were pretty much went straight into town.

It's stating the obvious a little but the main thing to do in Hiroshima is to go and see the Peace Memorial Park, which is the site where the first ever Atomic Bomb was used in warfare. I was excited as the World Wars were something I'd studied in history at secondary school, so to physically be here felt a little surreal! It certainly brought history to reality.

The Peace Memorial Park was only a few yards from the "hypocentre" of the A-bomb - there is no "epicentre" on the ground as the bomb exploded almost 600m in the air for maximum impact. The park wasn't massive so it was quick to walk around and the first place we headed to was the A-Bomb Dome - the only remaining remnant of the old town that the city has preserved. The Government left this building standing as a reminder of the impact of war and, in particular, nuclear war. It's quite surreal to think that this building hasn't changed since that fateful day!

Afterwards we wandered through the rest of the park looking at the various memorials. The main memorial is the cenotaph that has a fountain which commemorates the A-bomb victims. In the middle of the fountain is a flame that's been burning ever since the memorial was built just after the war. The flame is a peace flame and the city has vowed for it to burn until the last nuclear bomb in the world has been disarmed/dismantled - rather poignant really!

After wandering about the park we went to visit the A-bomb museum. It was interesting to understand the Japanese side of this part of history. Somehow they'd managed to get hold of secret documents of correspondence from top military generals, the president and even a letter signed by Albert Einstein. It was clear deep down that the Americans really wanted to find out what would happen with this new type of bomb technology - for example they used reconnaissance planes to monitor the ground and atmospheric conditions before and after the bomb was dropped. They must have known the consequences of their actions, and they were harrowing to say the least - over 200,000 people killed by one bomb.

In the museum they made a reconstruction of the city before and after the bomb had exploded - you can see by the pictures that there was nothing left. However, the amazing thing was that within 3 days the Japanese had started rebuilding the city.

Now Hiroshima stands for peace and the hope that one day all countries in the world will disarm and dismantle their nuclear weapons. The amazing thing is that for the past few decades since WWII every Mayor of Hiroshima has sent a letter to the leader of every country whenever that country tests a nuclear device. The letters are basically a protest against nuclear proliferation from the people of Hiroshima effectively requesting them to stop their nuclear ambitions. Ironically, and somewhat sadly, the last three letters have all been addressed to a guy called Barack Obama. Enough said.

The next day we headed to Miyajima which we'd been tipped off about by Joe when we met him in Tokyo. Miyajima is an island not far from Hiroshima and is famous for the Itsukushima Shrine which sits in a cove surrounded by water. Unfortunately when the tide's out during the day it's not surrounded by water so it's a little less magical, nonetheless it's a nice shrine.

To be honest the best bit about Miyajima is the town itself. It's a lovely quaint little place full of temples and old wooden Japanese buildings. After wandering around the shrine, and briefly taking in the last part of an annual performance by the resident monks we walked around the town and decided to make our way up the hill that over-looked the town.

This walk was the other great thing about Miyajima - we could have gotten the cable car to the top but that would have been no fun. Nobody really does the walk so you also get away from the crowds. It was a 2.6km path which we thought would be a steady incline but ended up being completely made up of steps. So it ended up being quite a tiring 1hr 15min walk but it was definitely worth it when we got to the top as the panoramic views of the town, the mainland and the inland sea were stunning.

After the effort of walking up we just had to finish the job and walk back down instead of getting the cable car. Luckily going down was easier than coming up!

Back at the bottom we mooched around the shops and got a few gifts for the family in Korea before getting back on the ferry (and then the train) to head back to Hiroshima.

In the evening we wanted to grab some typical Hiroshima food called okonomiyaki - basically fried pancakes with separate layers of cabbage, bean sprouts, meat, fish and noodles all marinated in a sweet teriyaki sauce. We headed to the main food quarter where there was plenty of choice. We randomly ended up choosing a lovely restaurant with our own private booth to eat in....the okonomiyaki was delicious too!

It was short but sweet in Hiroshima but it was definitely enough time to see the main sights, and we're glad we came.

Tomorrow we head to Fukuoka before flying over to Korea to see Fran's family! We're very excited!

Well that was my last blog in Japan. So I'll talk to you in Korea!
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