Visiting Hiroshima and Miyajima should be on everyone’s itinerary. Hiroshima has one of the saddest reminders of what humans can do to each other during war. Miyajima is the reminder of beautiful things humans can create. Both can be done in one day if you are on a tight schedule. We arrived at Hiroshima station in the morning and went straight to Miyajima. You need to take a local train to Miyajima-Guchi station and then follow the signs to the ferry to Miyajima Island. The JR Hiroshima Kansai Pass is valid on both the train and the ferry. Getting their is really a no-brainer if you understand the Japanese train system.
Itsukushima 厳島 (popularly known as Miyajima 宮島) is a beautiful Island in the western part of the Inland Sea of Japan, which is famous for the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社 Itsukushima-jinja), a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the floating Torii. Try to arrive as early as possible to see the Torii in the water. I recommend to check the tide timetable. We wasted time finding a restaurant in Miyajima and by the time we arrived at the Torii, the water already retreated. You could walk up to the Torii, but it was less spectacular and super crowded. It was fun trying local snacks though. The road to the shrine leads through a market, where you can try different street-food and buy some souvenirs. They even sell an own flavor of Kitkats! We enjoyed the local Okonomiyaki (Japanese style pancake with filling/toppings).
We visited the shrine, which is beautiful regarding of the tide schedule. It was less crowded inside, since all the tourists gathered in front of the Torii. I wish we had more time to explore the island further but my mom was way too tired to walk.
I was surprised to see all the deer running around like in Nara. They are more polite though and don’t beg for food as much.
We took the ferry and the train back to Hiroshima around noon. Luckily for us, Hiroshima has “Meipuru~pu” – a hop-on/hop-off sightseeing loop bus. The JR Pass was also valid on this bus. There are three different lines which all visit more or less the same attractions in different order. You can find the bus at Hiroshima Station, just follow the signs. We decided to visit the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial Park first, followed by Hiroshima Castle. I won’t indulge in a history lesson, since everyone should know what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the WW2. The Atomic Bomb Dome used to be called Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before the first atomic bomb exploded right over the building obliterating the city. Hiroshima is rebuild and is now a beautiful city, but the whole park still feels like a cemetery. The air is somehow heavy there when you know the history of the city. It is hard to describe the feeling. I wish we had time to explore the museums and learn more about Hiroshima.
Hiroshima castle is unfortunately a replica of the original, which was destroyed during the bombing. It was rebuild in 1958. This castle is very different from the ones in Himeji and Osaka, which made it a very interesting visit for us. It looks almost cozy due to all the wood.
Near the castle is the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine (広島護国神社 Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja). I especially enjoyed the view of the Torii in front of the modern city buildings and the moon.
Since I am not a history expert, I won’t bother writing about the castle or the shrines. Anyone who is interested in more information can read it up on Wikipedia. I would rather show you some photos.