Hiroshima ~ The Nuked City ~

25 04 2009

Hey to all my readers.!  (I think there’s 20 of you now, as opposed to the 10 that were around last time :P).  How’s it going for all of you?

My miku post was a huge failure *sad face*, I guess either no one likes her, my post sucked, or there are too many identical ones around.  In any case, I’m going to fix the parts of that post that wordpress decided to eat, so please check it again soon.  Or maybe, somehow I have attracted too many normal people and not enough otaku.

But on to the main subject!  Hiroshima!  None of you probably know much about Hiroshima other than the fact that it was the city where a nuclear weapon was used on humanity for the first time.  But ever since finding that out in primary school, I’ve always wanted to visit either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.  This trip, to me, is the fulfillment of at least one reason why I am in Japan :P.  So anyways, hit the jump to find out about dun dun dun The Nuked City (Gosh, that was cheesy.)

I seem to start every post about travel with a photo of the station's sign.

I seem to start every post about travel with a photo of the station's sign.

Hiroshima for the Japan uninitiated is located southern corner of the main Japanese island of Honshu, and was and still is one of Japan’s most important southern ports.  It’s also an important cultural hub for Southern Japan.

Fortunately, being such an important place one also has a number of options on how to get there.  The two main options from if you are travelling from Northern and Central Japan (probably most tourists) are the Shinkansen and the highway buses.  Hiroshima is roughly 900 km away from Tokyo and 420 km away from Nagoya, Japan.  A roundtrip bus ticket cost the equivalent of a one way Shinkansen ticket, but, seriously, if you want to spend 10 hours on an extremely full and small bus, be my guest.  The buses are also not at all accessible to those who cannot speak any Japanese.

The shinkansen on the otherhand is a little less than a 5 hour trip from Tokyo, and I cannot urge you enough, USE THE JR SHINKANSEN PACKAGES.  By staying at JR designated hotels, you can save more than 5,000 yen on your Shinkansen tickets.  This makes the Shinkansen + hotel price competitive with the bus + hotel price (the difference is around 2,000-3,000yen).  If 2,000 yen is worth 5 more hours of travel, the use the bus.  Though, the packages are only available in Japanese as far as I know.  However, if you use a JR tour booth, I’m sure they would be quite happy to help you as long as you ask about the packages.

Alright onto trip material, I only spent 1 day in Hiroshima, so I’m only going to cover three places this time:  Miyajima, the Atomic Dome, and the associated museum.  With great regret, I missed out on the Castle, the mazda factory and a number of other places due to a lack of funds :(.

When exiting the station, I was honestly not sure what to expect.  I have only ever heard about the destruction Hiroshima, but little about reconstruction, but I was quite surprised to see this.

View from outside the train station

View from outside the train station

Travel inside Hiroshima is accomplished through use of street trams.  If you are intending to travel to Miyajima as well, you MUST buy the all day pass that includes the ropeway, the ferry to Miyajima, and the tram.  It’s is a huge value compared to if you paid for them all independently.  The trams branch off in a number of directions, so make sure you get on the right color line.  First stop, atomic dome 原爆ドーム genbaku doomu!  Of all the buildings that survived the bomb, this one was the closest to the epicenter of the explosion.  It’s been perfectly preserved so the way it looks now, is how it looked in 1945.  It also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site, the first one I’ve ever visited.  Surprisingly enough, when this building was nominated as a World Heritage Site, only one country vehemently protested on the grounds that honoring the atomic dome would mean taking away the world’s focus on all the WWII in that country.  Guess the country :P, cookies if you do it without Google.  I hate my own ethnicity so much sometimes.

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The whole mood in these peace memorials seem to portray Hiroshima and its residents as innocent victims of war who did not warrant being nuked.  I’m not sure I agree with this whole national victim attitude, but I’ll leave my political views out of this.  Next up is the peace memorial park!  The park itself is erected on the portion of the city most seriously damaged by the bomb.  I thought it was kind of creepy and a bit surreal to be standing on ground where tens of thousands of people had died.  It’s not really necessary to have a guide for the park, as all the signs are in English and simply following the path will show you everything that you should see.

A Monument to the 30,000 students mobilized for the war, about 10,000 of which who died from the bomb.

A Monument to the 30,000 students mobilized for the war, about 10,000 of which who died from the bomb.

I’m sure you have all seen this next picture in one place or another.  A monument in the peace park in rememberance of Sasaki Sadako.  For those of you who don’t know her, she was a girl who was exposed to the atomic bomb at the age of 2, surviving due to being a mile away from ground zero.  However, by 1954 at the age of 11 she was diagnosed with leukemia like so many other bomb survivors and was given immediate hospitalization.  Unfortunately, at the time there was no such thing as a bone marrow transplant, and all the doctors could do was take her white blood cell count and hope for the best.  Her friend Chizuko Hanamoto, told her of the urban legend that if one folds 1,000 paper cranes one could be granted one wish.  Apparently, she managed to do so, but as expected she wasn’t cured.  Sadako finally died from leukemia after suffering intense swelling on October 25, 1955 with her family around her.  Her last words were reportedly “It’s good” after eating tea on rice, even though she had lost her sense of taste.  Somewhere along the line a reporter got ahold of the story and spread it enough such that Sadako and her paper cranes are probably the most recognizable symbol of Hiroshima’s wish for peace after the bombing.

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The boxes around the monument contain hundreds of thousands of paper cranes sent in from all over Japan and the world. If you participated in UW's Project Yume, this is where your cranes are.

これはぼくらの叫びです。これは私たちの祈りです。世界の平和をきづくための

これはぼくらの叫びです。これは私たちの祈りです。世界に平和をきづくための

The inscription on the block where the boy is standing reads “This is our cry.  This is our prayer.  For building peace in this world.”  The custom is that you should carry your wish and ring the bell in order for it to come true.  The girl on the top of the monument holds a paper crane above her head symbolizing her carrying wishes for a peaceful future.  Does kind of suck that even with stories like Sadako’s, people are still more than willing to kill each other.

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Alright time to insert a bit of cyncism into this to lighten the mood :P.  Apparently, there were a large number of Koreans undergoing forced labour in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped.  If there is anything the South Korean government is really good at, it’s QQ’ing about reparations from the Japanese.  So after much crying and whining, the Koreans now have their own monument in the park even though technically it wasn’t the Japanese who caused the explosion.  Funny how they didn’t raise a single complaint to the Americans…. huh…

The Monument to QQ

The Monument to QQ

Mass grave for thousands of victims

Mass grave for thousands of victims

The famed Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial

The famed Hiroshima Peace Park Memorial

The Peace Park Memorial is right in the center of the park, you can’t possibly miss it.  Someone explained the symbolism to me here, but I totally forgot.  But this place is also the main venue for the Hiroshima Peace Day celebrations on August 6th, bomb explosion anniversary, which attracts 50,000 people annually.

The Hiroshima Bomb memorial is a building on the Eastern portion of the park.  There are signs in Japanese that say no photography, but in English they read no FLASH photography.  I took the English message to be true and here we have pictures :P.  The walls display the wreckage of Hiroshima, and list all the neighborhoods that were literally vaporized or completely wrecked by the bomb.

Hiroshima Bomb Memorial

Hiroshima Bomb Memorial

The shape of the water fountain is shape of 8:15 on a clock.  The water symbolizes the never ending thirst of those who have been burned by the bomb.

The shape of the water fountain is shape of 8:15 on a clock. The water symbolizes the never ending thirst of those who have been burned by the bomb.

Onwards to the museum at the south end of the park!  There really isn’t much point to summarizing the museum, but I’ll point out a few things that really stood out to me.  The museum does put out a more neutral point of view on why it happened, but place far more focus on the actual horrors of the bomb.

Now you see it.

Now you see it.

Now you don't

Now you don't

There’s a hall filled with anecdotal evidence that was extremely touching, at least it was for me.  In one story, a mother and her daughter were off on doing their seperate jobs at the time of the bombing.  Apparently, the daughter was too close to the hypocenter of the explosion and her body was never found.  The only thing her mother did find was this sandal belonging to her daughter.  She recognized it as such because the straps were made from cloth torn from her kimono.

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In another story, a 3 year old little boy was outside riding his tricycle while his parents were watching him from inside the house when the bomb was dropped.  The parents survived, the boy… not quite.  The father in his grief buried the tricycle with the boy so he would not be lonely in the afterlife.  After resting with the boy for more than 40 years, the bike was dug up and donated to the Hiroshima Memorial museum where it is today.  The bike is in pretty rough shape, I really don’t want to imagine what happend to the boy.

Enjoy your strategically placed finger on lens!

Enjoy my strategically placed finger on lens!

And finally we have Sasaki Sadako’s exhibit in the museum.  They have numerous relics from her life including her health records.  I think her story is the thing that moves me the most in the museum, even though I’ve heard the story a number of times.

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O before the next stop I decided to get some munchies.  If there is anything you MUST eat in Hiroshima, it is their okonomiyaki.  Hiroshima style okonomiyaki is different from anywhere else in Japan in that the okonomiyaki is laid out in layers with clearly defined ingredients, instead of the mixed mass of stuff you get with Osaka style.   There’s even a building in Hiroshima called the Okonomiyaki village, make sure you go there.

Yumm!  I just got hungry looking at my own picture.

Yumm! I just got hungry looking at my own picture.

Finally, I headed to Miyajima before it was too late.  Miyajima is a seperate island in the middle of the Hiroshima harbour, accessible only by boat and ferry from an area in western Hiroshima.  There is a tram and JR station called Miyajima entrance, quite self explanatory.  If you bought the all-day pass, make sure you take the tram and the ferry covered by the pass, as more than one company runs ferries to and from the island.  A long time ago, Miyajima used to be a holy shrine island accessible only nobles.  Now, most of it is a national park and the developed areas sell a lot of traditional goods and contain a lot of older temples and buildings.  It is a real treat for anyone looking for a real taste of Japan.  It also happens to be one of Japan’s most famous sight seeing spots.

View as you exit the pier

View as you exit the pier

Do please mind the deer.  They look cute but they are in fact wild.  They will not hesitate to attack your bags and you if you have bought food from a store.  I saw two poor girls lose half their pack of manjuu snacks due to a deer sneaking up on them and biting the bag in half.  O and as JR kindly reminds you, make SURE you hide your JR passes.  These deer are notorious for eating them and JR passes cannot be replaced.

The deer group up to attack a tourist for her ice cream cone.

The deer group up to attack a tourist for her ice cream cone.

There are a number of spots available on the island and could easily take up your entire day.  It’s best to allocate 1 day for Hiroshima and 1 whole day for Miyajima.  Also, do watch the 6 hour tide chances in the region, or you may end up with a Torii gate and no water :P.

View from inside the Itsukashima Shrine

View from inside the Itsukashima Shrine. During high tide the water will cover all the exposed ground in this picture.

Itsukushima Shrine (Front)

Itsukushima Shrine (Front)

If you travel North behind the temple you can find the ropeway that is also included in the day pass.  Without the pass, the ride alone is 1,800 yen.  This takes you up to the top of the tallest mountain of Miyajima for some stunning views.  Well the scenery on the way there is great too.

I don't think the locals take kindly to this.

I don't think the locals take kindly to this.

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View from the Top of Miyajima

View from the Top of Miyajima

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Alright enough scenery, back to the town for some refreshments.

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Make sure you stop by this for their meat buns.  They’re ridiculous expensive at 400 yen each, but they are the best meat buns I’ve ever had in my life.

Meat bun!  Nikuman!  Yumm

Meat bun! Nikuman! Yumm

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At last, Sunset!  I’ve been waiting for hours till sunset so I could get some truly dramatic shots of the Torii gate.

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Postcard Miyajima

Itsukushima waterfront

Itsukushima waterfront

I always have great fun photographing the photographers.

I always have great fun photographing the photographers.

I'm pretty sure that this is most beautiful sunset I've seen in my life.

I'm pretty sure that this is most beautiful sunset I've seen in my life.

And to end with some night shots!  Took these on the way to check in and hunker down for the night at my hotel.  I went to Onomichi the next day, but I ended up posting that one first :P.

Somewhere in front of Hiroshima Station

Somewhere in front of Hiroshima Station

Hiroshima Pachinko Village

Hiroshima Pachinko Village

And thus concludes my one day trip in Hiroshima.  I took a LOT of pictures and ended up making this post far longer than I thought it would be.  Hopefully, you’ll all read it and comment!  I’m really not quite sure what my readership is looking for and the view counts are all over the place.  In any case, if I have even made 1 person more interested in visiting Hiroshima I think my mission is accomplished.
That’s it for now!  Any suggestions on where I should head next?  I look forward to everyone’s comments!

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16 responses

25 04 2009
Chris

I was hoping to daytrip out to Hiroshima from Kyoto, but too much to see and do in Kyoto and Nara meant that it wasn’t to be.

My take on the atomic blast is that all of those who died were innocents in one way or another. Those responsible for the blast, both the producers of the bomb and the producers of the conditions that ended up in its use, were too powerful and too far up the chains of command or politics to ever feel any direct repercussion of the action.

Blame can’t rest on a people. It can only be attributed to individuals.

…But anyhoo…

Taking a picture of the station sign sets the scene unequivocally and efficiently. Plus, it helps when sorting your pictures on your computer 🙂

You’ve got some good shots there. If you want to highlight the starkness of the destroyed dome, try pulling out the colours (desaturate) or next time you get the urge to take a ‘dramatic’ picture, shoot in black-and-white. Check it out to see what it does.

Also, if you want some more tame deer, try a trip to Nara Park. Those deer are very mercenary for the special o-senbei sold by the vendors (150Y a package. Give half-/quarter- cookies to increase your fun). The park is very nice, Kasuga Taisha has a *lot* of lamps, and the daibutsuden is absolutely enormous (a hint I didn’t remember until after I was done in Nara is about how to shoot a picture of something large: put something in the foreground (a person, a face, something) that shows how massive the thing is. Also, get close and shoot upwards)

25 04 2009
bluemage

Well, not everyone who’s otaku will know about Miku, and if that vid was posted on Nico Nico already, most people would just go there instead or YouTube it. So don’t feel bad about not getting lots of hits on your Miku posts, because I like them a lot. ^_^

Looks like there’s lots to do in Hiroshima besides its history. Man looking at that Okonomiyaki picture made me hungry too.

Were the meat buns that you had as good as the meat buns that Yuuichi bought Makoto in the early episodes of Kanon? Why are there so many subliminal Kanon food references in your posts…XD

Cool scenery photos of Miyajima! I especially liked the one where the leaves on a few of the trees looked orange and yellow. Really beautiful.

As soon as I saw the photos you had of Itsukashima Shrine, I immediately thought of a video that I saw a few weeks ago where an animator was trying to recreate the shrine (or another shrine that looks very similar to it) with full 3D graphics and animation. I’d have to say that the resemblance was uncanny. If you guys are interested the video can be found here: http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2009/04/12/3d-virtual-mikumiku-dancing/

The 3D rendered shrine is the last vid, though the MikuMiku dancing vids are entertaining too. Hopefully you guys can watch it because Sankaku is at times unkind and will not let some users open embedded Nico Nico Douga vids for some odd reason. And that I can’t find a YouTube link for it.

Great post man! Better add Hiroshima on my list of places that I must visit at least once in my lifetime.

25 04 2009
Yuki Phnx

wow, looks like you had a great time!

I have to visit Hiroshima when I finally get to go to Japan

I remember the Sasaki story from childhood too. Because of that, I set out to fold 1000 cranes. I eventually did it! But I had nowhere to put them. In the end, my mom thought it was garbage and threw them out ;_;

Do you only blog in hopes of having your posts read? Cause I liked your Miku blog and I don’t think you should care so much about having readers. But then, if you’re blogging for other people’s sakes and not your own, I guess you would care.

25 04 2009
maru

>Enjoy my strategically placed finger on lens!
I had to look for your finger for like, 1 minute? Well placed indeed ^^;

The sandal and tricycle stories are really sad.. Especially the tricycle one. The parents weren’t able to do anything.

About the deers, I must say I kinda knew they’re WILD. I haven’t went to Japan before. It was an episode in Lucky Star… xD

Itsukushima Shrine gets flooded when the tides rise? Man I gotta see that when I go to Japan.

26 04 2009
robostrike

Great to see old men using their pension money for good use. Glad to see Hiroshima reconstructed with green buildings ^_^ Makes me want to go there and get radiation just to experience the hardships they had.

If you need more viewers, then post on Dannychoo. There obviously will be a mass number of people to visit your blog to see more photos ^_^

26 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

@Chris: will definitely keep in mind to visit Nara. If only shinkansen tickets were cheaper :'(. So much to see so much to do.

@Bluemage: I saw that Miku video a while ago, but I don’t think the reconstruction was Itsukushima shrine. Come come to Hiroshima, let’s go together next time! My meat buns were definitely better than the ones in Kanon! These are famous, somehow :P.

@Yukiphnx: That’s a sad tale about the paper cranes. The same thing actually happened to me, since my mom used to like “tidying up” my drawers. I swear she was spying on me.

You know what, I think you’re right about the whole page view thing. I should just keep blogging about what interests me, it was originally meant to be a journal after all.

@maru: Really? Which episode of lucky star were there deer involved? The shrine itself doesn’t get flooded during high tide, the water just goes all the way up to the tops of the wooden supports. The shrine literally just looks like it’s floating on top of the water.

@robostrike: lol.. you can’t get radiation anymore from Hiroshima, but those poor people who rebuilt Hiroshima definitely had it tough.

27 04 2009
metalotaku

Hey dude, really enjoy reading your blog. Even added you to my blogroll. Some really nice pics there as well.

Gotta say though, “The Nuked City”, sounds a bit rough. Thanks for posting though, an interesting read.

27 04 2009
aaroninjapan09

Thanks so much for the comment. I’ve added you to my blogroll too! Yea the nuked city is an incredibly terrible title, but I couldn’t think of anything better.

30 04 2009
Lorfarius

What a fantastic post! Some wonderful pictures and you did a great job of describing the memorials. More trips like this please :p

1 05 2009
aaroninjapan09

Haha, next stop is most likely going to be Kyoto. I’m glad you liked the Hiroshima post. It was a great experience for me too.

1 05 2009
Chris

Going to Kyoto? If you’re going to be temple hopping, here’s a money-saving tip: skip the gravel garden in Ryoan-ji, and save the admission fee.

Why? Well, they’re repairing the roof, which means you get an unusual view of the gravel. The rest of the temple interior has (despite a couple of nice screens) nothing else to offer. And the gravel garden itself… not that spiffy. Pretty boring. And if it’s got a crowd, you’ll not be able to appreciate the Zen of it.

However, the outdoor gardens (no need to pay the admission) are beautiful.

12 05 2009
Default

First off (Sighs already trying not to rant! and here I am already doing it >_<)

I’m VERY ignorant about Japan so all of this really is new to me!

Thank you for going into detail with just about everything XD. I really enjoy just simply reading all of what you experienced.

“Hopefully, you’ll all read it and comment!” <— Honestly I feel more of a burden to comment because of my ignorance (nothing to relate to you know?

“In any case, if I have even made 1 person more interested in visiting Hiroshima I think my mission is accomplished.” <— Job well done. You just got another reader XD.

Btw! If your curious as to how I started reading about your experiences etc. It all started when I was looking for pictures of Chrome Shelled Regios. I was searching for a random Anime pic to put up as my youtube icon XP. So while doing so I saw a picture of the OP of Chrome Shelled Regios on a phone! I was like WHAAA? Basically I clicked it and bam that’s how it all started ^_^ (Still haven’t found a pic yet…lol too busy reading this interesting stuff!)

You see I have been trying to look for something… anything that can stream videos that is also a hand-held device. (besides the palmtop) I guess a phone counts as a computer but still! Reading about your phone I barely figured out the difference between the first picture and the 2nd! (Just noticed that the first picture was taken first and was darker than the other picture) <— Should have commented on that topic Sry! I just had to read more XD.

13 05 2009
aaroninjapan09

Haha, I’m glad you like reading my blog. Do please keep reading!

For the case of what you are searching for, you should be looking under the category of PMP’s or portable media players. I’m not sure what sort of video you are hoping to stream, but if it’s Youtube, a number of offerings from Archos, the iPhone, the iPod touch, can do what you ask.

14 05 2009
Default

Yes. I am familiar with the Archos and Iphone/touch. I’d prefer the Archos but knowing now that there is a third option (Japanese phones) Just blew me away. I think I’ll think about it for a while before I go buy…

P.S. (Why couldn’t I think of that?) Thx for the acronym. XP PMP’s are exactly what I’m searching for.

Don’t worry I’ll continue reading It’s just memorizing aaroninjapan09.wordpress.com. Is a hassle! (I’ll just reply by using email or something.

11 06 2009
andrew

epic pics u got there… send them to me via email!!! but… impossible huh? big size pics…

16 06 2009
aaroninjapan09

Hehe, you can save them off my website. The filesizes aren’t that big!

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