Today was our first experience travelling on shinkansen without reserved seats. It was a Tuesday so we figured as long as we avoided rush hour and turned up early we would be OK. Unfortunately, just like our Tokyo to Hiroshima journey, our JR pass did not allow us to use direct trains to Kyoto so we had to change at Shin Osaka station again. We were right in our assumption about finding seats on the train and had no problems on our journey apart from navigating the crowded platforms with our large suitcases.
The result of our discussions last night was that we would visit Miyajima, “Shrine Island”, more correctly called Itsukushima, today. The low cloud and drizzle that greeted us this morning is not ideal for this trip, but this would be our only opportunity to make it so we set out in hope. Miyajima is a short train and ferry ride from Hiroshima. Both the train and the ferry are operated by JR so we were able to use our very useful passes once again.
Having completed all of the peace based activities that we could find in Hiroshima and finding ourselves with a few hours to spare before dinner, we went to find out what else the city has to offer. Our guide book is pretty hazy on things outside the peace zone but we heard that there was a castle nearby and set out to find it. After quite a bit of walking and disappearing down underpasses to cross roads, we finally saw the castle peeking over some trees on the other side of a moat. There was also a fountain that looked like it would be more at home outside a French château. Continue reading
A quick post to give some insight into my absence from my regular movie and Japan blogging: we’ve been renovating the bathroom. Tiling is a lot harder than I anticipated, especially when all my walls point in different directions! Getting closer to the point where I can put the bath and shower in and start using it as a bathroom again.
I was really looking forward to visiting Hiroshima and I really enjoyed the time we spent there, I wish we had been able to stay for longer. However, I just want to get one thing off my chest: Peace.
Absolutely everything* in Hiroshima has “Peace” in the name. There’s Peace Boulevard with its Peace Walk leading to Peace Park which contains the Peace Memorial, the Peace Memorial Museum, The Children’s Peace Monument, the Peace Clock Tower, Peace Bell and, winner of the longest title of any tourist attraction I’ve ever visited award: The National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims as well as even more. All of these are wonderfully interesting and thought provoking attractions and I can see why a city which suffered such a terrible fate during war would want to emphasise and promote peace but after hours of going round visiting them one by one, I personally became more than a little Peaced out.
Today was our first trip on the Japanese fast Shinkansen trains travelling from Tokyo to Hiroshima. Yesterday we booked tickets on the trains we needed while passing through Tokyo Station. Today we checked out of our Shinjuku hotel and, as it was pouring with rain, headed for the first time into the Higashi-Shinjuku subway station that is literally right under our hotel. Unfortunately this station is convoluted and getting to Shinjuku station from here involved just as much walking as the above ground route but with added escalators, lifts and confusion. I’m pretty sure it would have been significantly quicker above ground but at least we stayed dry. From Shinjuku Station we took the Yamanote Line round to Tokyo station to get on our Shinkansen. Continue reading