Saturday, June 24, 2017

Exploring Miyajima and Hiroshima: A Travel Guide

Cranes at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial 
Learning that Hiroshima was closeby to my next destination, Miyajima, I decided I may as well do a day tour to Hiroshima prior to settling down for the next couple of days.

Travelling from Osaka I arrived at Hiroshima, and after dropping my bags off at the lockers located at the station, I began my explorations of a city that many of us have heard so much about.

Hiroshima is quaint. It feels like a typical metropolitan city but with a nice river and old tramcars adding to the ambience. 

Okonomimura, Hiroshima
Japan has different varieties of Okonomiyaki (oko-nom-e-yah-ki), a dish that can be likened to a vegetable pancake although in Japan it often has myriad meat products added.

There is both the Osaka style okonomiyaki, arguably the more well known, basic version, and Hiroshima style. 

Seeing as Hiroshima has a whole okonomiyaki style dedicated to the city, you can tell they like their okonomiyaki. 

Okonomimura, located in the central area of Hiroshima, offers four levels completely dedicate to okonomiyaki that is cooked right there in front of you. Heaven!
The Atomic Dome

Hiroshima's sad history is ripe at the Atomic Dome by the river. 

It's certainly a bleaker side to Japan, but the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is a poignant way to to understand the aftermath of the nuclear attack and the devastation it caused for Hiroshima's inhabitants and infrastructure.

The Hiroshima Memorial Park, in view of the dome, provides a message of hope and peace for the world and illustrates mankind's ability to rebound in the face of devastation. 
A deer in Miyajima with the Itsukushima Shrine behind it

After spending a semi-exhausting day trying to see everything of relevance in Hiroshima, using my Japan Rail pass, I travelled onwards to Miyajima.

Miyajima is home to the celebrated Itsukushima Shrine.

Shrines, multiplicitous in Japan, are a boundary between the spirt and the human worlds and a well known symbol of Japanese culture. 

The Itsukushima shrine, which appears to float on water if you visit at the right time is an icon of Miyajiama, and makes the village a beautiful place to visit.

The shrine is over 1400 years old and magical to look at, especially at sunlight or dusk, coupled with the friendly deer that inhabit the island. 

It's a lovely place to walk around, with food stalls dotted around the water front and Omotosando shopping street, which felt authentically Japanese despite being quite touristy.

There is also a five story pagoda to crane your neck and take photos at, plus a mountain to hike if you're feeling particularly energetic (Mt. Misen).
Smiling woman on the ferry to Miyajima

I stayed at Miyajima backpackers hostel for this part of my solo travelling trip. 

It was one of the few areas where I felt like there was backpacker culture. At the backpackers people paused their lives there for a little while and worked at the hostel. 

As such, it had more of a feeling of homeliness than other hostels in Japan due to the familiar faces and friendly atmosphere.  

The highlight of Miyajima, besides the shrine, was the onsen recommended at the hostel at the Aki Grand Hotel. 

It was around 500 yen, completely empty when I visited and ridiculously tranquil.

 I didn't stay at Hiroshima or Miyajima for that long, so I don't have many recommendations for when you visit, but I do recommend visiting if you have the time spare. 

I've also written guides about Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka and Naoshima