I started off my first post-program trip by going further west—to Hiroshima. I felt that it was somewhere that I, as an American, needed to see.
It was also my first trip on the Shinkansen (or “Bullet Train” as we call it), and it was pretty exciting. There’s nothing quite like flying through the countryside at well over 100 MPH, and it reminded me of riding the EuroStar in France.
The first thing that came to my mind as I stepped off the train at Hiroshima station was that almost exactly 51 years ago, the place I’d just arrived at didn’t even exist. It was the world’s first atomically-created killing ground and nothing but rubble. This many years on, though, you’d never guess that it wasn’t just like any other city in Japan, by its appearance anyway. It just seemed strange.
I’d read about a reasonably priced hotel adjacent to the station, so I went there and booked a room. I couldn’t actually get in until after 3:00 PM, so I decided to immediately go and visit the nearby island of Miyajima to see the famous “Floating Torii” gate that is one of Japan’s most famous sights.
The trip didn’t disappoint, either. It was pretty exciting pulling in on the ferry and seeing the massive red gate sticking out of the sea. It was extremely easy to walk around all over the island (even though it too—like Nara—was chock full of more deer), and I spent a few hours there. I even lucked out and saw a newlywed couple dressed in traditional clothing getting their photos taken at the main shrine (by the official wedding photographer and the hundreds of tourists like me!). Later on, I went up to the Senjo-kaku shrine where in addition to a refreshing breeze blowing through the building, I got to enjoy a traditional Biwa concert (a sort of Japanese lute of Chinese origin)—it was really cool.
I took the ferry back to the mainland and to my hotel. I spent the rest of the evening in my room, other than a foray for what turned out to be a delicious sashimi dinner at the nearby Granvia Hotel.
Please check the Photos section for tons of pictures!