June 9 (Day 12) Highlights & Instagram

IMG_9592c2Today begins a phase of the trip where, instead of spending a bunch of days in one place, we’re going to be hopping from one place to another for a while. So, we left out luxurious ryokan in Kyoto (which wasn’t easy!) and went to Hiroshima. Here are some highlights, followed by the photos I posted to Instagram that day:

In the morning, before we left the ryokan, they came to clear away our bedding and they brought back the low table. Then we were served a huge, beautiful Japanese breakfast. So many delicious dishes, and lots of yummy fish. Then we got ready to go and packed our bags. As I mentioned, it was difficult to pull ourselves away.

We’re headed to Hiroshima for one night, and then to Osaka the following night, with a day of rabbits in between (more details coming soon in the next post). So we packed our bags in such a way to allow us to leave them locked up in the train station in Osaka, which is on the way. We took a bullet train from Kyoto to Shin-Okasa and we were there in about 10 minutes. I forgot to check into Swarm before we got on the train, and as we pulled away, before I was even done wrestling with the app, they were already announcing that we were about to arrive in Osaka.

I put our luggage onto coin lockers – instead of keys I got receipts with QR codes that would allow us to retrieve them when we return. And then we hopped onto a train to Hiroshima with just our day packs. Much lighter.

Hiroshima was very hot. We didn’t have a lot of time there, but I had read that many of the popular sites were in walking distance from the train station, so we set out to see them and I was thankful that I brought my sunbrella in my day pack.

First we visited Shukkeiken Garden. It’s like someone took a Japanese forest and made it small and turned it into a garden. Really beautiful and peaceful. Except for the giant carp in the pond. They go so nuts when people feed them that they climb out of the water – literally body surfing on top of each other – to get the food. Here’s a video of them.

Then we walked by the Hiroshima Castle, but we didn’t go in. The main thing we wanted to be sure to visit before it closed was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. There’s a large park with multiple things to see there.

First is the Atomic Dome – the preserved ruins of a building that was destroyed in the bombing. Next was the Children’s Peace Monument – a bell-shaped sculpture surrounded by display cases filled with origami cranes. This one made me cry a bit. Then you walk along a long, narrow fountain and arrive at the Memorial Cenotaph, an impressive arch that, when you turn around and look through it, lines up a view of an eternal frame and the Atomic Dome.

Finally there’s the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. This is hard to look at, and I’m not going to try to describe it or the feelings it brings up. But I’m glad I went. At the end of the exhibit, there was a new bit about Obama’s recent visit on May 27th. This made me feel very proud. It’s hard to believe that he’s the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima since WWII.

After that we felt a little wrung out. We walked down a long shopping arcade and went in a few shops. I got so hungry that I made a hasty decision and pushed us to get some fast food (a burger place offering Kobe burgers). It wasn’t bad, but a couple blocks later we arrived at an area that was blocks and blocks of interesting looking restaurants. It was probably our first “food fail” in Japan, and it was just a case of “if we had waited a bit longer, we could have had something much more interesting.” It was bound to happen eventually.

We walked to our hotel, which was also pretty close to the train station. It was a very lovely Sheraton, very conveniently located. And I have to admit that it was kind of nice to stay in a predictable, Western-style hotel for a night. We’ll be ready to go back to other kinds of new and interesting accommodations tomorrow.

Walking tally: Fitbit says I walked 21.5k steps today, which is a little over 9 miles. That’s a total of almost 119 miles of walking for the trip so far.

And here are the photos I posted to Instagram on this day:

And there are a lot more photos from this day in this set on flickr (with photos from June 8th also).

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