Adventures in Hiroshima
After we stayed in Seoul South Korea for a couple of days, we headed to Hiroshima Japan via Fukuoka Airport. We landed and then headed from the Fukuoka airport to Hakata central train station where we turned in our Japan Railways rail pass vouchers in for the actual 14 day rail pass. We purchased the 1st class 14 day pass ahead of time at home, since you can’t purchase these at a low rate in Japan. These were the most expensive items we purchased ahead of time. They cost $566 with fees. After you get the pass, then you can make reservations for each trip you want to take. In our case, we made reservations from Hakata to Hiroshima. We also decided to go ahead and make the Hiroshima to Osaka reservations also. We learned later that we could pretty much make the reservation the day we wanted to leave as there are a lot of available seats in the 1st class train cars (they call them green cars and have a clover leaf symbol on them). Most of the riders look like they either jump onto the unreserved green cars or the basic cars. Shinkansen means high speed trains.
The thing to remember when riding trains is to be on time. Just like in Europe, most of the trains leave on time. If you are late, you miss it. We got our rail passes and then asked which track and went there. Funny thing in Japan, not many seats around. I guess they expect you to just walk up right when the train is going to leave. If you look at the sign above, we were looking for the Sakura 558 leaving at 15:16. It had 8 cars and we were on car 6, the green reserved seat car. All of this is on your reserved ticket they give you when you make the reservation. It is separate than the JR rail pass you keep with you. For the most part, all announcements are in Japanese and English. I love train travel. No big security fuss like at airports and you just walk on with your baggage. Just sit back and relax. In Japan, all of the first class cars has a stewardess come through and give you a hot towel just after they depart. Very nice.
After we got to the Hiroshima central station, we walked to our Sheraton Grand Hiroshima hotel. Luckily that walk was about 100 yards from the station. It was connected with a covered walkway. Although we used points and the stay is free, we decided to take them up on an offer to upgrade our hotel room to a very large corner suite. Why not! Well it was really nice. It had a large living room, a super large dual shower and tub combo, a large bedroom with seating area and two toilets. And since we were on the corner, we had floor to ceiling windows in both rooms.
One of the main reasons we went to Hiroshima is because of the history. As everyone knows it is one of the locations that we dropped the A Bomb. Absolutely a terrible thing in history. I was somewhat nervous about how the museum was that we were going to visit. We grabbed a cab and went straight there. The place is called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Like everything in Japan, the areas are well signed and they had security directing everyone to the lines and entrance. You are allowed to take pictures throughout. There were a lot of school children taking tours. The vibe I was afraid of was not there. The whole theme of the museum is about peace. About it never happening again. There were artifacts that were found and/or donated. From there we walked outside and strolled from the main museum building toward the A Bomb building. There are many monuments and statues along the way.
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From the peace museum we took a taxi to the Hiroshima castle. The only other thing we had on our list for the day. The taxi drove us right up on the grounds to the main area. It was a grey sky day and some occasional sprinkles so there were not a lot of tourist. We started by doing the cleansing ritual at the little fountain thingy. This is where you dip a little cup and rinse your left hand, then your right hand, then your face… or something like that. I really didn’t want to, who knows what is in that water or when they clean those ladles. We walked around a little and realized the castle was a little farther walk into the park looking area. Before walking over there, we witnessed a priest looking guy who looked like he was doing some type of ceremony over a car. I don’t know if it was a new car ceremony or a “get rid of the bad ju ju” ceremony. so we got our good selfie at the entrance of the castle. It looks really cool on the outside. On the inside, it has been redone with modern materials and is a museum. You can take pictures on the 1st couple of floors, but when you get to the cool looking samurai stuff, you can’t. I took a few before I realized the sign was there. There is great views from the top floor where can also take pictures.
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After the castle, the weather got a little worse so that was the end of day. It was already a long one so I was okay with stopping. Our next stop, Osaka!
Next stop of trip: Osaka