For most travelers, Hiroshima can be divided up into two main sites. Inside the town itself, the major destination is Peace Park, the restored site of the first nuclear bomb explosion during warfare, now dedicated to world peace and the abolishing of nuclear weapons.
The bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, exploding at an altitude of about 1800 feet which virtually destroyed the city in an instant. The most notable feature within the park is the skeletal remains of a large building that survived the initial impact a few hundred feet away from ground zero.
The park itself is beautiful (and entirely wifi free), however the history behind it and corresponding museum puts a somber mood on the entire area. The second site requires a quick day trip outside of Hiroshima city to Miyajima island, and brings about a much higher spirit.
Miyajima Island Day Trip
If Miyajima island's fame can be classified into one attraction, it would be the floating torii gate, whose appearance takes on different tones throughout the day depending on the tide level.
In fact, most of the islands shopping and business district is purely built up around the iconic gate and its nearby shrine (300 yen entry for nothing more than a dead center view of the gate. I passed on that one).
Although the common advertising scheme of describing the gate as “floating in the water” falls a bit short, it is still quite amazing to see to break the monotony of the standard setup that is common in most of Japan's Shinto shrines.
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There is, however, an even more amazing attraction on the tiny island of Miyajima: Mount Misen.
As I was told, the top of the mountain provides amazing 360 degree views of the mainland and neighboring islands and is a must see for those visiting the area. A bit frightened by the nearly 2000 yen cable car fee (round trip) I opted for one of the 1.5 to 2 hour long hiking routes to the top.
At this point in the thought process, a little voice should have come into play slapping me silly for even thinking it as a viable option. I pressed on, giving myself a large cash prize payable in ice cream at the nearby town of Iwakuni's 100 flavor ice cream store as a reward for a successful climb.
In 35 degree Celsius heat (95 degrees F), 50%+ humidity, I walked. And walked. And walked some more, up some seemingly never endless supply of steps that offered minimal shade from the sun and zero breeze.
Shirt completely drenched in sweat, I finally made it to the top in just under an hour and a half, much to my amazement.
Before taking in the view, I had to rehydrate, and the overpriced sports drinks and colas set me back a good $5 before I was finally satisfied. The views, however, made it all worth while, and at the very top of the mountain, a breeze finally appeared.
Completely discouraged from hiking anymore for the day, I coughed up 1000 yen to ride the cable car back down in air conditioned style, although the hike to the cable car area was almost nearly as bad after the previous long hike to get there in the first place. I could finally get my ice cream reward.
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