It’s now our third week in Japan and it sure feels like time is flying by. On Monday morning we set off for another mini trip, this time down south to Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nara for a good dose of mountain hiking, temples and museums. While the north of Japan is better known for its snowy Winters and magnificent onsens (natural hot springs), the south of Japan has really stood out to us so far for its quieter demeanour and richness in history and nature. So much has happened in these regions of Japan that each museum / temple / sightseeing experience has felt like a real life history lesson.
Hiroshima is home to the Peace Memorial Museum, which pays homage to the history, heartbreaking stories and war-torn artefacts from the world’s first atomic bomb attack in 1945 during World War II. As you walk through the museum you really get a sense of what happened on that day from the early hours of the morning right into the night after the city had been hit and the years that followed. Countless Japanese families have donated remnants of personal belongings of their loved ones to the museum as artefacts. We walked away feeling very grateful for life and hoping that some day soon, we’ll know a world without war.
It was also really interesting going back even further in time on our visit to Hiroshima Castle and learning about the rise and fall of different feudal lords and emperors and getting a glimpse into what castle life was like back in the day. Think Game of Thrones but… Asian! Hiroshima Castle was bombed during WWII but restored to its original form and now sits as a centrepiece in the middle of the city, surrounded by a moat. So great to see what it was like to live in feudal days and see artefacts and replicas of everything from costumes, swords and castle floor plans to the evolution of the Japanese bathroom (hilarious) and strategies for keeping the enemy off castle grounds. We have to say, castles are officially awesome.
The most interesting thing you learnt about Hiroshima? What actually happened on the day of the world’s first atomic bombing and the scale of that attack on the people and the town. Absolutely everything within a 1.6km radius was reduced to rubble in an instant when the explosion happened… and everything that was flammable within 4km shot to flames. Yet now, 70 years later, the city has completely rebuilt itself and all of the stories and memories have become a symbol for peace and hope all over the world. Such a good reminder to cherish life and make the most of every day.
Your favourite sightseeing spot in the city? Hiroshima Castle! You walk around the entire museum in awe of what castle life was like. You walk out wanting to live in a castle.
Any top recommendations? Save a day to visit the Peace Memorial Museum, and an afternoon for Hiroshima Castle. Both awesome especially if you are a history buff.
The most interesting thing you learnt about Hiroshima?
Honestly, it was the old school toilets in Hiroshima Castle. there was a whole level of the castle dedicated to the evolution of the toilet. You can still see some influence through to today with “squat toilets” still used in public toilets. I have to say that I’m happy that they have done away with the cleaning sticks and use toilet tissue.
Your favourite sightseeing spot in the city?
I think that everyone should go to the peace museum but my favourite was the castle/museum.
Any top recommendations?
Go to the peace museum.