This city, despite its beauty, culture, atmosphere and status as a large economic center in Japan, will be remembered above all for one thing: August 6th, 1945. The day I went to Hiroshima was a beautiful sunny day that stood in stark contrast to the sobering thoughts and feelings provided by the Peace Memorial Museum. Most people know of the atomic bomb from history class and books, but the images, diagrams, artifacts and accounts of survivors reverberate at an entirely different volume than any book ever could.
WARNING: There are a few disturbing images in the reel below. Please click on the pictures for further links to the stories behind the pictures.
Miyajima Shrine (Itsukushima Shrine) - This shrine feels a world away from the city of Hiroshima, and is a good "cheer-up" if you're coming from the Peace Museum. This shrine is listed as a World Heritage site, and it's not difficult to see why. What a pleasure it must have been to ride through the giant tori gate on a narrow wooden boat, land on the pier of the beautiful shrine, and participate in a ceremony of ancient dance. Because almost the entire shrine is built on a pier, and the giant shrine gate is built out in the water, the entire shrine appears to be floating away from the island upon which it is based. When we visited, it was low tide, so we could walk all the way out to the tori gate.
The Naval History Museum - This museum certainly offered a different perspective than American history books, and included extensive information on both the naval and air fleets of the Japanese Imperial Army. It includes a submarine that was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but was salvaged and returned to Japan. It also includes a large hall in remembrance of the many kamikaze fighters, and notes that the kamikaze pilots wrote before their final flights. Many of the notes were signed with the message: "Dear Mom, your love is not forgotten", and sometimes stamped with a bloody thumbprint. The entire island upon which this museum (and navy base) is located has a quiet, relaxed, in-the-woods feel.
Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki - This style of Okonomiyaki is different from other styles of Okonomiyaki in Japan in that its more like two pancakes/crepes with a lots of vegetables and food in the middle, rather than everything smushed together (omlet-style). Okonomiyaki is so popular in Hiroshima that it has it's own section of the middle of the city, "Okonomi-mura" or "Okonomiyaki-city" where the grills are hot almost 24/7.