Japan, Day 2: Hiroshima

Even though we would have liked to spend a bit more time in Osaka due to all the closures on our first day, hotel reservations are a harsh mistress, so off we went to catch our first Shinkansen.

Also known as “bullet trains,” travel on the present Shinkansen network travels at speeds up to 320 km/hr. (For our readers still on the imperial system, that’s nearly forty thousand furlongs per day!) And this network has been around for nearly twice as long as The Simpsons, that’s how old it is.

It’s a cliché to say that we need this in North America, but dear lord do we need this in North America.  Hiroshima is roughly the same distance from Osaka as New York City is from Baltimore, but we made the trip in an hour and a half. Just enough time to share a tasty Inari bento, but not enough time to remember to take a picture of it before we ate it.  Here’s the wrapper, anyway.

Bento wrapper

Arriving in Hiroshima, we encountered the weather that would more or less define the rest of the trip. Sunny, humid, and temperatures in the low 300s. (Kelvin. Around the mid 90s F.) It was hot.

For our first stop, we went to the Shukkein Garden. (I mean, our FIRST stop was the nearest combini for cold drinks.  This can probably be assumed between every stop going forward for the rest of the trip.) The Shukkein roughly translates as “shrunken scenery.”  It’s a whole Japan in miniature – small mountains, small bridges, small rivers. Like the full sized version, it’s gorgeous.

Shukkein Garden

Shukkein Garden

Shukkein Garden

We then took a tourist bus downtown, and went looking for lunch.  By this point, we were seriously overheated, so we searched for “cold noodles near me”, and found a delightful lunch of cold udon and tempura. (Once again, with half of the food eaten before I remembered to take a picture.)


And now to be completely serious. While Hiroshima is a perfectly nice city, there’s obviously one particular reason to go there.
Atomic Bomb Dome

This monument is on a quiet backstreet, and shows the exact centroid of the bomb blast. It’s much less well known than some of the other sites.

Peace Memorial Museum

We didn’t take a lot of pictures here.  We didn’t take ANY pictures inside the museum, as they aren’t allowed, and it would have felt incredibly disrespectful to do so even if it had been.

The museum is deeply affecting.  It is entirely focused on the horrific effects of this single nuclear weapon. A choice could have been made to provide more context around the broader war, or the decision process to use the weapon, but instead the choice is to focus the entire attention of the viewer on WHY these weapons are so uniquely unconscionable.

Given the present level of political discourse in BOTH countries which control the bulk of the world’s stockpile… I’m not optimistic, frankly.  I fervently hope we continue to avoid their use.  But I’m frankly shocked we got through the Trump years, and Trump or no, there’s more like him on the horizon, and far too many jingoists under his banner.  Time will tell.

After that sobering afternoon, we returned to our AirBnB, which had the unique feature of a lock that we had to open using an app.  Which was largely in Japanese.  But amazingly, it worked using the link the host had texted us the night before.

For our one dinner in Hiroshima, we had the local specialty of okonomiyaki, which is a savory noodle pancake that literally translates as “however you like it.” There’s an okonomiyaki palace downtown which has roughly 8 restaurants on each of 3 floors, all specializing in the dish.  You sit around a hot griddle (perfect in sweltering temperatures) and the cook makes yours right in front of you.

Okonomiyaki being made


A happy end to a thoughtful day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *