Woman Praying for Peace
As I was taking a picture of the A-bomb dome a woman walked up to me and asked if she could pray for me. As I saw no harm in this I allowed her to proceed.
What she did was both moving and slightly eerie. She positioned herself in a position where she had to block the sun and raised her hand to block the sunlight. The symbolism of this in Hiroshima is self evident. She prayed for me for a couple of minutes, thanked me and proceeded to ask other people.
Ahhhh Japanese steak and seafood!
This teppanyaki steak restaurant, located on the ground floor of an office building is convenient if you have just visited the Peace Memorial Museum just across the river. It's very modern with its marble tables and bright lighting, and the skilled chefs prepare delicious steak and seafood before your eyes.
The Peace Memorial Museum
The Peace Memorial Museum graphically displays the atomic bomb's horrible effects on the city and its inhabitants. A visit is naturally depressing. In the museum's east building, Hiroshima's militarist past and the process leading to the dropping of the bomb are documented. Audio guides are available in more than a dozen languages
There was a huge downpour while we were at the Memorial Park, making the already depressing surronding even more depressing.
Originally built in 1590, Hiroshima Castle was home to the daimyo or feudal lord of the Hiroshima fiefdom. The castle, like most of the city, was destroyed by the Atomic Bomb in 1945 but was completely reconstructed in 1958.
When the castle was first built , Hiroshima was not actually an established city, but more small collection of hamlets collectively called Gokamura. After the building of the castle, the daimyo at the time, Mori Terumoto, renamed the township Hiroshima and governed his nine provinces from here. The city began to grow as an important regional centre.
After a battle in 1600, Mori lost control of the region and was forced to flee the castle. Fukushima Masanori became the new daimyo of the provinces and governed from Hiroshima castle. However he fell out of favour with the shogunate for carrying out renovations and additions to the castle and grounds without the express permission of the Edo and was reassigned. Governance of the provinces fell to Asano Nagakira and he and his family remained lords until the end of the feudal system. The castle was later used by the military until it was destroyed by the Atomic Bomb in 1945.
The reconstructions that we see today are only a fraction of what would have originally stood on the site. There would have been many more castle buildings, shrines, outhouses and there was originally three moats. One of the moats has been renovated and the entrance to the castle grounds involves crossing a bridge over the moat and through reconstructed wooden gates.
I lived in Hiroshima for six months in 1997. I was on a homestay with a local family of 7 and went to school with one of the girls who was my 'sister'.
Hiroshima is an amazing city with loads of history, great food, wonderful people, and a city size and weather much like Brisbane (where I lived before I left for Japan). Although quite a big culture shock (just getting used to the fact that I couldn't speak English anymore), I had one of the best experiences and 6 months ever!
If you visit Hiroshima, make sure you take a day trip out to Miyajima - the island just off the coast. It was here that I sampled smoked eel for the first time...and fell in love with the flavour! (I still can't get enough and order it whenever we go to sushi train!). Also go to the numerous monuments, museums etc that relate to the war are great to visit and you are constantly reminded that the atomic bomb was dropped here (everyone has a story to tell).
The Japanese (as a population) are one of the friendliest races I have come across. They never say 'no', instead replying with something like 'it's different'. They will go out of their way to be hospitable, particularly if you are a 'Gaigin' (foreigener) - they will, however, openly stare at most people who have blonde hair and blue eyes, particularly if you visit the more rural parts of Japan. Don't find this rude!
The food - I am VERY partial to Japanese food because it is soooo fresh and delicious. I lurve sushi and often crave ramen, yakisoba, smoked eel and tempura. Mmmmm! Don't worry if you're a bit squemish about some of it though as they have McDonalds, Burger King and their own 'Mos Burger' on most corners. But there are some foods I can't stand - umeboshi (pickled plums), anko (this awful sweet, doughy-type weird stuff. Urgh!), just to name a couple.
Unless you have learnt Japanese and can read Kanji, Hirogana, Katakana etc you'll be trying to decifer the Romanji (western spelling of Japanese words). Unlike European languages, romaji is very straightforward and easy to pronounce. If you get desperately stuck when trying to communicate with a Japanese person, try to speak English-Japanese. If you just think that they don't make common use of the letters L, S, C (unless it is 'ch'), F, Q, S, V and X, you can sometimes get by with making your English just sound Japanese. In the bigger cities they will usually have important signs in English anyway.