After getting absolutley soaking in torrential rain we caught the bullet train from Kyoto, changing at Osaka to Hiroshima - the trains are so nice- they are like luxury aeroplanes without the fear of falling out the sky!
Our hostel was quite close to the station, so we didn't have to walk far - after drying out we headed into the city centre for some dinner - Hiroshima is famous for Okonomiyaki which is like a savoury pancake with various fillings. There were loads of places to choose from, the one we went into was rammed and they only had seats left around the hotplate where they cooked the Okonomiyaki in front of you. We chose one with pork - we watched how they cooked it, first they made the pancake bottom, then loads of shredded cabbage was steamed with some beansprouts & various flavourings were added, the pork was then put on in bacon like form and an egg was mixed up and put on the top - then they pasted a sauce over that. Its served up to you on the hotplate with a spatula (which got very messy!) It was really tasty and we had the best gyoza we've tasted to go with it.
The main thing you associate Hiroshima with unfortunately is the Atomic bomb which was dropped on 6th August 1945 - I suppose we didn't know an awful lot about it apart from images of a massive mushroom cloud and knowing it was devastating - so we went to the Peace Memorial Museum to find out more. We walked down Peace boulevard which was a lovely road lined with pretty trees and benches. The museum was really informative. There was a watch near the entrance that was found in the devastation which had stopped at 8:15 - the time the bomb was dropped. There were big displays of what Hiroshima looked like before and after the bomb, when the bomb detonated the temperature in the immediate area was 3000-4000 c and then it created a huge shockwave outwards of radiation and fire. It was sickening to think of what it had been like. Lots of school children were in the city centre the time the bomb was dropped as they were helping demolish buildings to create fire breaks just in case they were bombed. There were lots of heartbreaking stories of parents going to find their children in the aftermath and quoted some of their final words. There were also remains of school uniforms all burnt and ripped, I found the most upsetting the remains of a little tricycle - it belonged to a three year old and they were playing on it when the bomb went off. The father had originally buried the tricycle with the toddler but later donated it to the museum. It was heavy stuff. There was a whole section on what radiation does to the human body which was terrifying. I think what was really bad after seeing all that was then they showed you all the countries that have nuclear weapons and all the tests that have been carried out - the bombs have got a lot bigger since 1945 ...... The mayor of Hiroshima sends letters out to countries that have nuclear weapons and do tests - they are all on display, the most recent letter was to North Korea for their tests a week earlier.
There was a special exhibition on of drawings of survivors, some of them were very harrowing. After the museum we walked through the park past a flame that won't go out until the last nuclear weapon is destroyed, towards the T- Shaped bridge that was the bomb target. The eerie remains of the Genbaku dome are there - it was so peaceful along the river there it was hard to imagine what it would have been like. As we walked back to our hostel in the evening I felt quite strange like we were walking on a mass atomic grave. Hiroshima reminded us of how ugly human nature can be - it was quite a lot to take in and I could'nt believe it happened all over again 3 days later in Nagasaki.....sick
The following day we got a train and a boat to Mirajima island, which has a floating shrine in the water and is one of the most famous sights in Japan. We had glorious sunshine, the island was really pretty with wild deer roaming again. We decided to go for a walk to one of the parks, we saw a sign to climb up to a high peak - we thought we would walk some of the way but the further we went the more we wanted to carry on. Unfit Khans felt like our lungs were going to explode and we huffed and puffed for about an hour (being overtaken by a few old men) we were rewarded by magnificent views over other little islands - it was lovely. At the top we sat on a rock and got our breath back. A freindly older man came over to us and asked us where we were from, he was having a little picnic and said his wife was a great cook - he wanted us to try some food which was really nice- he gave us some chopsticks and just as we were about to try this omlette thing a deer appeared out of nowhere and just stared at us. Then the deer wanted some lunch to and started going for us - the old man started to grunt at the deer and slapped it around the face - the deer went into ramming mode and it got a bit heated between the two - all I could do was try not to wet myself laughing and take pictures of it . No one or no deer was harmed! We made a hasty retreat back down the mini mountain to watch the sun set behind the shrine. Kam ate fresh oyster and we had some fabulous steamed beef buns which were yumbo!