Japan, part three.
If you haven’t already, here are parts one and two. Part three takes us from Takayama to Hiroshima by bullet train. I’ll be the first to admit that as an American I had some apprehension about this part of the trip. Mostly because I didn’t know what to expect. Our first stop was Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in the center of the city, which includes the Atomic Bomb Dome (originally the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall), museum about the bombing, gardens and Children’s Peace Monument complete with paper cranes. Sobering, to say the least. After leaving the park, we checked into our hotel and took a break to process what we just saw.
For dinner, our tour guide introduced us to a regional take on okonomiyaki which is sometimes casually described as Japanese pizza (it’s not). We explored a food court dedicated to the dish and found ourselves wrapped around a hibachi-style grill watching our chefs prepare a slew of different varieties right in front of us. Splitting from the group, Jesse and I wrangled a fellow traveler into a late night tour of Hiroshima, walking through Nagarekawa in hopes of checking out a specific record store. Finding it already closed, we went a “shots” bar and sat in the basement lounge of the hotel before heading to bed.
The next day, we took a quick trip to the train station for breakfast before heading out to Miyajima, or “the Island of Gods.” Complete with tons of friendly deer, multiple temples, a ropeway to the top of the mountain, shops and even a brewery, this was well worth the trek (capped off by a lovely ferry ride). We made a quick go of Miyajima so we could get back to the city and try to find yet another record store. This time we succeeded, spotting some friends’ records and even one of Jesse’s old bands in the process. A very successful stop.
That night, the group got together again to celebrate a birthday, by taking over an entire restaurant and storming the local karaoke bar. Words can’t even begin to describe the epic session we had, uniting us Americans with a few Irish, Scots, English and New Zealanders to sing along to ABBA more than once. A highlight for me was my “Country Roads” duet with a woman named Jess. Definitely a night I won’t soon forget in a lovely city. On to the next, with two more to go, Kyoto and Tokyo.
Images above: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, okonomiyaki, Misery Records, Nagarekawa, deer on Miyajima, floating torii gate, temples and shrines on Miyajima x 2