As I’ve mentioned in the post about sightseeing in Kyoto during the Golden Week, today I’d like to share with you my experience from another good locations.
Our plan was to go to Hiroshima(広島市) and Miyajima(宮島), with a stop at the Himeji Castle on the way. However, a student at Smiths English Kyobashi(スミス 英会話 京橋) told me that Himeji Castle is being renovated this time of the year and it would be a waste of time to stop there. So we gave the Himeji Castle a miss and went straight to Hiroshima. I’ll try to visit this historical place on some other occasion, when all work is done.
There is a direct Shinkansen(新幹線) connection between Kyoto and Hiroshima which takes about 95 minutes. The only downsize to the quick and pleasant ride on the bullet train is the fare. Shinkansen services can be quite pricey.
Once we arrived at Hiroshima, we took a walk through the city to the Peace Memorial Park (広島平和記念公園). The place is really peaceful and its main purpose is to commemorate the tragic ending of the WW II and to champion the world peace. There, we’ve met many Japanese pupils accompanied by their teachers, taking turns to ring the famous Peace Bells. Understandably, Hiroshima is an important educational location for Japanese schools. On the way we’ve passed the A-Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム), a building closest to the A-Bomb explosion that remained standing. It was built by a Czech architect Jan Letzel and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. At night the Dome is lit by floodlights and the lightning sets a striking view on the memorial place.
Hiroshima has got more interesting sites to offer. One of my favorite was the Shukkei-en (縮景園) Garden, which has various miniaturist landscapes of mountains, valleys and forests. The garden’s scenery is done in such a fine detail, that from a distance the garden looks like a real valley with mountains. Another place definitely worth a visit is the Mazda Museum (マツダミュージアム), where you can see the actual vehicle assembly line. The 90 minute tour in the museum will take you from the very beginnings of Mazda, through the current technology used in cars and to the future of the industry. The assembly line is 7 km long and it’s the longest one in the world! Be advised that a reservation for the museum’s tour must be made in advance.
After spending almost half of the day in Hiroshima, it was time to move to another World Cultural Heritage in the area called Miyajima island.
To get there, we caught a city tram from Hiroshima to Miyajimaguchi station. There we boarded a ferry that took us to the island. One way on the ferry is just ten minutes long and gives you an opportunity to see the island’s main attractions. The first and probably most famous attraction must be the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) with Otorii Gate floating above the sea’s surface. It’s a spectacular example of Japanese culture. A storm damaged the gate in April, few weeks before our visit and the gate was covered by a light scaffolding to fix the damage. But in the end it didn’t matter as we still could see the main structure and distinctive red colouring contrasting with the blue sea. Great view. Works on the gate should be done by the end of this week. On the way to the Miyajima Ropeway, which would take us to the top of Mt. Misen we’ve passed the Gojunoto : Five-Storied Pagoda and walked through the calming and beautiful Momijidani Park (紅葉谷公園). As we didn’t have enough ‘time’ (read ‘strength’) to actually trek to the summit of Mt. Misen (弥山), we gladly took the opportunity to use the ropeway. It takes only 25 minutes with one transit to get to 433 meters above the sea level. There are many halls, shrines, observatories and natural rock monuments on the summit. To see them all would take us about three hours. We went to take a look on the Setouchi dotted islands from the Shishiiwa Observatory. On the way to the very top is an enormous natural arch made of huge blocks of rocks. A walk through this natural tunnel is also one of the highlights of this location. Finally, Mt. Misen Observatory is the highest place from where, if weather conditions permit, you can see as far as the Shikoku Mountains. We were lucky!
And one more thing. When you are in Hiroshima don’t forget to try the famous Hiroshima-yaki (広島焼き). Delicious!