Hiroshima and back in a day. This was one of those crazy trips that happened to work out perfectly. We’d been watching the space-a flights to Iwakuni for a few weeks with this plan in mind. We had noticed a 7am flight for a Friday morning the night before. I went to bed fully expecting it to be off the schedule as it so often happens. Hubby woke me up at 6:50am and asked if I still wanted to try for it. By 10am Logan and I had landed in Iwakuni for a homeschool field trip day, just the two of us, in Hiroshima. My first impression of Iwakuni was how incredibly gorgeous it was. So many islands dot the approach as you are landing. It reminded me of Thailand for a moment until you step off the plane to freezing cold winds. Right from the passenger terminal we were able to take a 1200yen taxi to the Iwakuni train station. We took a 20 minute local train up to Miyajimaguchi Station and a cheap (150 yen maybe) ferry ride on the JR West Miyajima Ferry. We only had a limited time on the island before I wanted to be headed towards Hiroshima but you could literally spend the entire day exploring this beautiful island. 2hrs or so didn’t even touch what we could have seen and done here.
The famous “floating” torii gate of Miyajima at Itsukushima Shrine. The 5-story pagoda and lots of food and shopping on the island. BBQ’d oysters , udon and little sweet cakes were the island specialty.
If you head back to the piers, at the very end is the Aqua Net Hiroshima high speed boat. It takes about 45-minutes but drops you off right at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. It was 2000yen for myself and they didn’t charge for Logan. Pretty fun being eye level with the water. The heater on the boat was even better. We went to both the Museum and the Peace Park. I had some major concerns bringing Logan into the museum. I had read mixed reviews on whether the images and exhibits were too graphic for young children. We visited Pearl Harbor with the boys earlier this year and already had a discussion going on WWII and what it meant for both Japan and the US. I knew I wanted him to see Hiroshima and the effects of war, but I also felt the need to shield him from some of it. The museum is graphic. It’s gut wrenching. But it’s gut wrenching in a way where you have to stop and read the stories. You can bring younger children in, but there were definitely areas where I directed his focus. You can quickly scan a room and see where to direct their attention. The wax people really disturbed him. A woman on staff even told me they toned them down. If you aren’t familiar with them, you can google pictures if you’d like. Before, she said the skin on the people was melting off on their hands, legs, face, etc. On the toned down ones the faces appeared normal but the hands and legs were still melting away. As we moved on in the museum he didn’t mention them again. Right now there’s no way around the wax people. You have to pass right by them but you can do it quickly and move on to the other areas. Logan took to the story of Sadako, and the 1,000 cranes she folded hoping it would help her to recover. There’s a Japanese legend that promises a wish will be granted to anyone who folds 1,000 cranes. Sadako died of leukemia 10 years after she survived the bombing. The Children’s Peace Monument has the folded cranes from people all over the world as a symbol of peace. The A-Bomb Dome to the right of the river, under restoration. A Japanese woman told me of the controversy to restore vs tear down. Many see the reminder as too hard to bear. For me, seeing the building was important. This country is incredibly resilient. That building was a reminder to me that it actually happened. It’s something tangible that I can see in the present and a reminder on the devastating effects of nuclear war.
After walking through the Peace Park, we continued on to the Hiroshima Castle to finish out our day. It was about a 15-20 minute walk. I loved seeing a castle more recently built. They had an exhibit on how it was rebuilt which both of us found fascinating. This first picture was passing by the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine.
There’s a wonderful museum inside the castle. A friendly Japanese woman befriended us and gave us a guided tour of Japanese history. On one of the upper floors is an exhibit on the history of the squatty potty. Logan found the dioramas quite educational and hilarious. We both learned quite a bit about different methods of building a potty. About 5pm we headed towards the Hiroshima Station to take the bullet train home. This was a bit more complicated than our previous trip down to Kyoto. Limited English was spoken and we didn’t have a reservation on the train. We managed to get a non-reserved ticket to Shin Yokohama. But, I had no idea what time, train, or track it was on so we tried our luck with someone at the information booth. He looked at our tickets, flipped through some papers and told me a time and a track number so off we went to wait for the train. Sure enough, he gave us the wrong information and I didn’t realize it until the train was moving and the announcement cycled through to English. The one we were on was terminating in Osaka. One of the attendants helped me figure out which train station to get off at with the least amount of time interference though and we were on the right train soon enough and back home by 10pm. It was definitely a long day but such a worthwhile trip. Having the space-a benefit while here in Japan is such a huge blessing when it does work out.