Saturday, September 18, 2010


…Part II of our Labor Day Weekend trip! (Read previous post for Part I)

Nick and I once again took advantage of Japan’s bullet train to get to Hiroshima. Once there, we checked into the Hotel Granvia Hiroshima, which was also located in a prime spot right by the train station. And it was another lucky day for us, they had a double room available and upgraded us out of the standard twin beds!

We ditched our bags at the hotel and took a train, then a ferry over to Miyajima Island. The island is known for the famous “Floating” Torii Gate.

The weird-looking guy we saw in the form of pictures and statues all over Hiroshima...kinda creepy! Nick was imitating this little dude, using a spoon instead of a sword! Haha!
On the ferry, with the mountains in the background....
Our timing was perfect, we made it to the island, just after the water had risen enough for the O-torii gate to appear to be floating on the water. Simply Stunning!

View of the Torii from the ferry

To see the torii gate was the real reason we went to Miyajima Island, but the beach and the deer were what made it my favorite thing we did the entire weekend. From the minute we stepped onto the ferry, the water’s breeze whipped around us, giving an inviting slight chill…a glorious feeling after walking around for two days in record breaking heat! (It was reported in the local newspaper… “Temperature hits record 39.9C in Kyoto Prefecture on Sunday, marking the highest temperature ever for September in this country (Japan).” That’s almost 104 degrees, and in September no less! Lucky us!...Not!!!) So the wind and breeze were very much appreciated, and I already knew it was going to be a great evening.

To add to the amazing weather, we were also in great company. As we stepped off of the ferry, we were greeted by a herd of deer! As an animal lover, I was beside myself! The signs said to stay away from the deer as to not mess with their survival instincts in the wild, but who are they kidding…there are hundreds of deer just roaming around a tiny island, of course people are going to feed, take pictures of, and attempt to pet these adorable creatures. I was in that very same category of disobeying people.
Little fella trying to sneak something to eat out of one of the tourist's bag!
The deer were everywhere and of all ages and sizes. I spotted a hut that sold soft-serve (aka green tea ice cream, my obsession) and so naturally I had to get one. Well, with cute little deer eyeing my treat, I couldn’t be stingy and not share…so I did…with a large male deer who had even larger antlers. And then he followed us….of course he did, why wouldn’t he want more ice cream cone? Hehehee! Nick was not pleased with me, but I didn’t care, I had an admirer (albeit a hungry animal).

After our ice cream cones, Nick and I walked a bit further into the island (being followed by deer) to get a closer look at the torri gate, and see the Itsukushima Shrine. Around the edge of the shrine was a little beach, where we were able to sit in the sand and watch the sun set around the torri gate….picture perfect! Beautiful scenery, amazing weather, friendly deer at our side and on vacation in a foreign country, just holding hands and hoping time would stand still…it doesn’t get any better than that!

The Itsukushima Shrine
The picture I took with our camera...
The picture Nick took of me with our GOOD camera....big difference! (Of course, I am what is in focus in this picture, not the actual torri, so it is a bit different)
Dedicated Sake barrels...each one is decorated uniquely and every one has a different story...clearly I don't know them, considering they are written in Kanji!
Torii as the sun was setting...
Beautiful how the lights reflect off of the water...
The Pagoda in the background all lit up at night...
The gate was even more capturing at night...
This group of "teenager" deer were sneaking over to an area of the island where there weren't any deer. It was funny, like a group of kids, sneaking out at night...they definitely were acting suspicious!
Nick and I sat on the beach for a couple of hours, admiring the scenery, enjoying the weather and taking lots of pictures. After we finally left the island, taking a ferry back to the mainland, we set out in search of a good place to eat dinner. Rumor had it; eel was the popular thing to eat in Hiroshima. Naturally, that is exactly what we wanted to put in our tummies!

We got lucky and ended up walking into a place that had exactly what we were looking for! (Again, with the signs in Kanji, you just never know what you are walking in to!) A little Japanese man shuffled up to us and asked if we wanted to be seated…? “Of course!” Then the waiter walked up to us looking confused…”you speak Japanese?” she said. “No,” we say. She looked concerned and it appeared we were about to be told to l leave. We started to feel defeated, thinking we are about to be kicked out of the restaurant, which by the looks of the inside appeared to be a popular place among the locals! Then, all of a sudden a middle-aged man tells the waitress he will interpret for us! SCORE! He did just that, ordering us each a meal of fresh eel, rice and miso soup (for those of you who don’t know, eel is cooked, not raw and it is Nick and my favorite kind of sushi!)! Delicious!

The friendly helper also asked us if we liked Sake (Japanese rice wine) and we both said, “yes!” He then ordered us a bottle of local, top shelf Sake! It was so good, Nick and I bought a bottle to bring home as a souvenir! What a way to end the night!

The Sake, with Nick's Sake glass...for some reason, I got a plain glass, but Nick got this glass in the shape of a chicken!!!

The next day, our last day, Nick and I got up early and checked out of the hotel so that we could do plenty of site-seeing before we had to board the Shinkansen and go back home.

We then took a train car to the part of Hiroshima that was bombed during WWII. Before we even exited the train, we could see the famous “A-Bomb Dome.” It sits on the edge of the Peace Memorial Park, as a standing memory of what happened on that fatal day in 1945.

"1st Atomic bomb"....yes Nick can be somewhat tactless at times!

The only building that still stands EXACTLY how it was after the bomb hit..."Severely damaged, the structure remains standing as a constant reminder of the unprecedented horror and destructive power of nuclear weapons."
Nick and I taking a picture of the same thing again...

All along the park are several statues in memorial of the bombing...

As we walked into the Peace Memorial Museum, Nick informs me that they had welcomed their 60 millionth visitor just the day before... He was bummed he couldn’t be that “special” visitor. That was when I asked him, “well, did they get a prize or something?” He goes, “no, I just think it would be cool!” Oh Nick!

This watch was salvaged from the day of the stopped at exactly the minute the bomb hit. The minute hands sit stuck on 8:15 for eternity!
Child's tricycle and helmet

We spent quite a long time in the museum. It is very extensive and detailed. We didn’t have time to look at everything because they go into great detail about all the effects that the bomb had on the people of Hiroshima as well as a Japan as a whole. Nick and I couldn’t miss our train and our stomachs were telling us it was lunchtime, so after a few more pictures (I don’t exactly know if it was legal to actually take photos in the museum, but we did it anyways) we headed off to find one more meal.

With our bags in tow, we found a little eatery inside the train station and sat down to try what they had to offer. Unbeknownst to Nick and I, the place we picked to eat at was an okonomi-yaki restaurant…again, we had been told to try this while in Hiroshima because it’s one of their “famous specialties”! Okonomi-yaki is a Japanese pizza-pancake made on an iron griddle. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "what you like" and yaki meaning "grilled." They are made with various ingredients, depending on the location. This place in particular specialized in oysters…bonus, cause that was our third and final thing on the list that we were told was a “must eat” while in Hiroshima!!!

The men grilling our meal...

As you can see from the menu, it is quite a mixture…I was not at all in like with this crazy food…breakfast and lunch mixed into a pizza/pancake, with seafood??? Gross… sounds like it?…well it was! Actually that is only my opinion cause Nick loved it, (not surprisingly) he actually ate all of his and half of mine!

After our nasty/yummy lunch, Nick and I boarded the Shinkansen for the final time to zoom zoom back to Atsugi. Trip over sadly…but a good one to be remembered!

1 comment:

  1. I, too, tried okonomoyaki for the first time this weekend and I, too, thought it was yukky. Let's get some yummy food at the torch place sometime instead!