Accommodations, and much more!
We got to Hiroshima via the Shinkansen train at 11am, dropped off our stuff at our hotel and then went to grab a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant. We then made our way to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The park was huge; we didn’t expect it to be that big! It’s over 120,000 square meters and stands out from the rest of the city because of its huge green areas. We visited the Peace Memorial Museum which was made up of two buildings. The museum tells the story of the August 6th nuclear bomb dropping and show cases the human suffering that resulted from it. The area where the park is situated right now used to be a political and commercial hub but it was decided the area would not be re-built but instead dedicated as a peace memorial. It was very upsetting reading all the stories and seeing pictures of those who had suffered and it was very hard for all of us to refrain from bursting into tears. Afterwards we went to visit the A-Bomb Dome which is the only building that remained standing after the bomb was dropped. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will forever trigger memories of Hiroshima’s past. We also visited the Cenotaph of the A-Bomb Victims. This is an arched tomb with a giant list of victims names displayed that died because of the bomb. We read that there were over 220,000 that died, either because of the initial blast or such large exposure to radiation. Every year on August 6th at 8:15am (the exact time of the blast) a ceremony is held at the park with a moment of silence. Afterwards speeches are made and covers are laid at the Cenotaph. Our next stop was the Hiroshima Castle. It was built in 1589 by Mori Terumoto and survived into the modern era until it was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945. The castle was rebuilt with almost the same resemblance after the war. Today inside the castle there is a small museum on the castle’s history, Hiroshima’s history and the history of Japanese castles. We found it very informative and rather interesting. Since it was already getting late we decided to go check-out downtown Hiroshima and have dinner. We walked though Hondori Street which is like 17th Ave here in Calgary. It is lined with many shops and restaurants. We continued our walk downtown through Aioi Street where the Hiroshima Baseball Stadium is and many large department stores. We were told that we had to try Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki which is a Japanese savory pancake, so we went where they make them best, Okonomi-mura. Okonomi-mura is a small district with many restaurants on the eastern end of downtown which is actually named after the Japanese specialty. Ours had all kinds of veggies and meats on it. They usually have ingredients such as shrimp, green onions, mayonnaise and cheese on them but it varies from city to city and restaurant of course. They were actually very delicious although we were kind of afraid to try them at first. After dinner and walking around downtown some more and visiting a few shops we decided to call it a night.
There were some things that we saw around town that surprised us, mainly some being accommodations. There are many different places to stay in Japan. There are both western and Japanese styles. Japanese styles include accommodations such as capsule hotels, temple lodgings, and so much more. We went ahead and did some research when we arrived to see where we could consider staying in the different areas of Japan, and we found the prices of some accommodations. In Ryokan’s, it ranges from 6000-30000 Yen, and they are Japanese inns with Japanese style rooms, and they make you seem like your living in an actual Japanese home. There is also a Minshuku, which is a bed and breakfast style of lodging. The neat thing about this accommodation is that it is family run, and they have one or two meals in the price of 4000-10000 Yen per person. Dormitories are quite popular as well, and they are found in the larger cities, and they offer women-only rooms mainly. They range from 1000-3000 Yen per room. Capsule hotels are a very interesting thing that we saw, because they are literally small downsized rooms. They have a unique style with nothing but a bed, a television and a shared bathroom. Coin lockers are usually provided, and they target mainly male clientele. This costs 3000-4000 Yen a person. Temple lodgings are quite popular as well, but are a bit more on the pricey side. They range from 3000-10000 yen per person and it usually includes two vegetarian meals. You can join in the Buddhist prayers in the mornings. The last unique hotel that we had come across, by accident, is a love hotel. It wasn’t until we had rented a room, and walked out into the hall and saw a lot of… inappropriate behavior did we realize we were in a love hotel. The hotel rooms can be rented for 2-3 hours at a time, or for an overnight stay. They can range anywhere from 6000-12000 yen a person. Erin, Emily, Liz and Maddi let’s just say, had a very interesting experience.
Some of the neat things that we learned when we were out and about is that Hiroshima is the host to Japan’s largest tram network, holding 8 tram lines, which go to the city’s attractions. The fare for these tram’s are 150 yen each, and you pay when you exit the tram. You can request a transfer card from the driver when exiting the first tram, and use it for the second tram. We found out that you can also buy a one day card for unlimited tram use on the entire network, for 600 yen each. We found out that you can get a ferry ride to the site Miyajima for an additional 240 yen. Pretty neat if you ask us!