Dienstag, 21. August 2012

speed-dating with hiroshima&miyajima

Been to Hiroshima for a weekend trip with my boyfriend.[10.08. -12.08.2012] In fact our little trip started already Thursday evening after work. We headed to Takasago, where Dai's parents live, by train. When I first arrived in Japan I lived there for a few weeks and it feels a bit like „home“ to me. But since we've moved to Kobe I didn’t have a chance to go back and visit Dai's parents. Dai often goes to Takasago at the weekend, but my work schedule has always made it impossible to join.

We slept there and got up very early on the next day (me at 5:30a.m.). We borrowed the car from Dai's mother. They have two cars, but we needed Okaa-san's car because hers is connected to ETC (electronic toll collection). In Japan you pay tolls for using motorways/autobahn. You pay the money cash at the gates or if you're electronic connected, it will be billed later. Apparently if you're connected, you get discounted rates... but it still costs about 7000-8000yen to go to Hiroshima (round-trip).. I think these toll-fees are ridiculous. In addition to parking fees and gas, going by car costs almost as much as going by express-bus/night-bus.

We were scared to get into traffic jams, that’s why we left early. However the roads were empty and we arrived much earlier than expected. Before we wanted to enter Hiroshima City, Dai wanted to pay a visit to his friend Sogabe-san. Luckily, he was OK to meet up earlier. We arrived around 10:30 at his place and chatted for a while. Then he suggested to go to Okonomi-mura. It's a famous/touristy place for eating Okonomiyaki. The whole building is dedicated to Okonomiyaki, lining one food stall after another: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okonomi-mura

So no big surprise .. we had Okonomiyaki for lunch. Traditional ingredients plus squid and shrimps. I deleted the soba from mine though. I don’t hate soba, but I am generally not a big fan of noodles.

Thank you Sogabe-san for inviting us to lunch!

After that Sogabe-san said goodbye and went to meet his kids/family. He is actually living and working in Düsseldorf, but his family stays in Japan. So Dai and him talked about good old times in Düsseldorf or the latest news from there. Düsseldorf has a big and strong japanese community. Dai used to live there for 7 years. I think he misses Düsseldorf/Germany a little bit, too. :)

Anyway, after regaining some energy, Dai and me were ready for some sight-seeing. I researched several art museums and chose the cheapest and most convenient one. The Prefectural Art Museum Hiroshima was „cheap“ (600 Yen for a combined ticket to the permanent exhibition and entrance to shukkeien) and connected to the Shukkeien garden, which I wanted to see anyway. Furthermore, it is quite close to Hiroshima castle. Unfortunately, the museum was super disappointing. The regular exhibition consisted only of a handful of paintings (two rooms and maybe 20 paintings, some sculptures)! There were other exhibitions going on, but you had to pay extra.
At least I bought some pretty letter-sets by an artist, I don’t know :D

Luckily, the Shukkeien garden was nice enough to make up for the disappointment and we spent quite some time there. For example the first thing we spotted, was a couple taking their wedding pictures (in traditional costumes). I didn’t want to be rude, so I couldn't get a nice shot from close by. 
spotting the red parasol of the bride?

You could buy fish feed for the Koi. There was one really really huge one. The pics I got of it don’t do any justice.. it was HUGE. I'd say about a meter in length.
Feeding the kois and little turtles was fun. At one point about 30-40 kois crowded at one spot to get a bite.
Dai pointing at the giant-koi, the photo doesn't do any justice.

The leftovers/skin of a cicada. Seriously those insects are noisy as hell. Their „singing“ makes me always wake up waaay too early :(

After that we walked to Hiroshima Castle. Most tourist attractions are concentrated in or around the city center of Hiroshima and therefore within walking distance. At least if you're not some lazy bump. Personally, I don't mind walking 30-40 minutes to get somewhere and I do not have any problems to walk up to 7-9 hours a day.

Entrance to the Castle grounds is free and I think there's also quite some stuff to explore ( like a shrine, etc), but we didn’t bother much and headed straight to the main tower:

View on Hiroshima Castle from the "outside"

We paid the admission fee of 350 yen (which is cheap ) and after the huge art museum disappointment I didn’t expect much... BUT it was a really enjoyable museum! Lots of information, lots of english and many many exhibits !
Also including some fun stuff for kids... or kids like me. You  can try on old robes and warrior helmets, etc.

excuse my ugly face

When we were done with the castle, it was time to check in at the hotel. We walked back and checked in, parked the car in a seperately operated parking building and crashed in the hotel room (and got food from a cheap supermarkt. It was pretty much like a GYOUMU-SUPER except it had a different name: Promart http://www.act-cs.co.jp/work/gss/promart.html  just in case u're a cheapo like me and need your DISCOUNT SUPERMARKET no matter where you are :) .

We've spend the two nights at Active Hotel Hiroshima. Which is a very reasonable priced Business Hotel. There were probably more tourists and families than salarymen though. The rooms are small, but you do not need any space, if you stay only a few days and do sightseeing or are on a business trip, right?! If you stayed two weeks, it might be too small.

What I like about these business hotels are the services they provide... fresh towels and toothbrush-sets everyday, room cleaning, free soap/conditioner/etc., some bathing/beauty products, TV, hair dryer, etc. Our Hotel also had a free coffee machine on each floor! And an AWESOME breakfast buffet for free. I hear you already say: All Hotels provide such services...! Yeah, but not for such little money. We paid 3500 Yen per person per night. That's not much more, what you would pay at some hostels in japan and at most of these hostels you have to pay for everything extra (and of course no free breakfast)
The breakfast buffet was so good... I stuffed myself. There was bread, rice, soups, different salads (western/ japanese), pickled stuff, sausages, eggs/omelet, yoghurt/fruits, cereals, coffee, juice, tea,..........

I took a second round including more potatoes
Had much more of the pumpkin salad after finishing this. I think it was pumpkin with cream cheese or something..

Saturday was dedicated to the Memorial Peace Park and the Museum. The entrance fee to the Museum was only 50 Yen!! Well I guess such a museum is well subsidized by government and private sponsors. It took us two hours to get through it. First because it was crowded and second because it was big. I think almost everything was translated to english and there were many details and descriptions provided to the exhibits. You should not miss this museum if you visit Hiroshima. 

It's of course a little bit sad and depressing, especially all the parts about the victims. For example burned/shredded school uniforms worn by kids during the bomb attack and descriptions how parents could only identify their kids through the clothes or personal belongings.

After the long museum visit, we wandered through the Memorial Peace Park and up to the Genbaku-dome (Atomic Bomb Dome), the most famous of all the memorial monuments there.

Children's Peace Monument

cam-ho-ing , sorry

A-bomb Dome


The afternoon of Saturday was left free for coffee & shopping :) Dai bought some orange-rubber (?) shoes from Adidas and I got two new dresses and rebought some make up... The evening was spent at the Hotel room. I watched Charlie and the chocolate factory on TV (you can switch to English audio or subtitles,if it's provided by the TV programme... does this work on german TV? I don’t think so )

On Sunday morning we got up early again, because we head to check out by 10a.m. ( I need time to get ready :D and I took quite my time at the breakfastt buffet) But we would have left early anyway, because we wanted to drive to Miyajimaguchi and from there take the ferry to Miyajima. It's a lovely, very small, touristy island. It's famous for it's Itsukushima-Shrine/Otorii Gate (World Heritage Site), maple trees, maple-shaped sweets (momiji-manju) and oyster:

On the ferry to Miyajima. I guess these installments on the water are for catching oystrs?!

Yes deers...you totally got the Nara-vibe by this.

the famous otorii gate.. we didnt bother to wander through the muddy sand :P

the only couple picture we got from this trip >o<
btw thats one of the two dresses I bought in Hiroshima. 70% off...it was 1500yen I think

eating  ice cream - monaka ! of course these were maple leaf shaped , too (waffles filled with matcha ice cream and anko )

tourists and deers enyoying a little stream

yakigaki - grilled oyster

goodbye miyajima

Since we had a 3-4 hour ride back home, we couldn’t stay too long but we successfully did or saw most of the main things. I also went to some „folk museum“ on my own, because Dai didn’t want to waste money. And he was right... it was very tiny and not that interesting. One part was dedicated to some current Taiga-Drama (historical TV-drama). Apparently the drama involves some historic events that took place on Miyajima, but I haven't watched it nor am I interested in Taiga-Drama...

In the end I bought Momiji-manju with Goma-filling as an Omiyage (Souvenir/gift) for my colleagues at the restaurant.

We drove back to Takasago, dumped the car and took the train for Kobe and arrived at our flat around 8pm. The whole trip was kind of exhausting but in a GOOD WAY. Next day : WORK. Seems like except for this little escape, I have NO days off in August. That’s also the reason why I procrastinated this entry more than one week.


  1. hey sweety.
    sounds like a nice trip and you really deserved the two days off.you have been quite busy going to so much museums,don´t you? ;) the park with the wedding couple and the kois looks very nice and its sweet that you could at least have a glance at the wedding couple.the picture with the old robe is cute-but its so big (the robe).the next day when you were sitting at the water- that picture is beautiful <3 and your neew dress is very nice.i love these collars at the moment.so,hope you have a good time in japan.hugs,sarah

  2. thank you. the dress was a real steel!<3
    And yes the trip to hiroshima wasnt relaxing at all.. sightseeing was quite exhausting.. but so worth it ! I am not the type who likes beach-vacations... I want to be active on my trips and explore as much as I can.

  3. i like both: sightseeing and relaxing.but most of the time i´m relaxing :D i´m a bit jealous that you were so closed to the deers.really cool :) are you planning to go to hiroshima again sometime? or elsewhere in the next few weeks? :-* sarah