We spent two nights in Hiroshima, one night in Miyajima and also managed to fit in a visit to Himeji Castle on our way from Miyajima to Kyoto.
When you think of Hiroshima, you think of August 6, 1945 – the first ever atomic-bomb attack. The destructive power of the bomb obliterated nearly everything in the city. Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park is a constant reminder of that. Visiting the park and experiencing the museum, where you can hear survivor stories and learn more about the impact of the atomic bomb is a must – it’s a great reminder for all of us to pledge for a world of peace.
After the war, the people of Hiroshima made a great effort to rebuild the city. Today, this can be seen by monuments like Hiroshima Castle, which was reconstructed.
Many only make a day trip to Hiroshima, but the city deserves more than that. There are large boulevards and a nice shopping area, perfect for dining out and enjoying the city’s nightlife.
The little island of Miyajima is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and less than an hour away from Hiroshima. It’s ranked one of the three best views in Japan and it’s star attraction is the torii, or shrine gate of Itsukushima-jinja.
The Torii gate is the first image of the island as you approach it on the ferry. The gate is a symbol between the everyday world and a sacred space, in this case, the shrine. The unique reddish orange colour on the shrine is believed to keep evil spirits away.
During high tide, it appears to be floating in the sea and at low tide, you can walk and pass through the gate.
In addition to the Itsukushima-jinja shrine, there are a number of other shrines, temples and pagodas on the island. My favourite was Daisho-in Temple. It is said to have been founded by monk Kukai in 806, and has many halls and treasures, including a cave.
Mount Misen is also filled with ancient temples. Once at the top, not only will you be greeted by the temples, but you’ll be rewarded with incredible views. Well worth the visit.
While many visit during the day, the evening becomes much quieter and peaceful. After the hike up Mt. Misen, I visited the hotel’s onsen, overlooking the water, and then went out to see the Torii gate at high tide, and watch the sun set behind it. We also saw several of the city’s wild deer meandering about throughout the day.
Himeji Castle was built at the beginning of the 17th century, and in 1993, became Japan’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s considered the most spectacular castle in Japan due to its imposing size and beauty, as well as it’s well preserved grounds.
Shinkansen, the cutest bullet train around!