Our time in Kawaguchiko had come to an end and now it was time to do a bit of cross-country travel. We would be traveling over 1,000 miles to visit Hiroshima and to do so we would need to take the Shinkansen, better known as the bullet train.
The Shinkansen travels at speeds of 200 mph and its truly amazing to blur past buildings, people, and cars while traveling at a rate of over 3 miles a minute. Before we boarded the bullet train I purchased a famed meal of Japan: eki-ben (or the bento box). Eki-ben is essentially a pre-packaged meal. I picked up one with rice, chicken, pickles, dumplings, and some type of vegetable. I was also amused by the Smurf-sized bottle of soy sauce for rice. There was also a tiny packet of hot mustard and I mean HOT. A little of that stuff went a long way. I had a pinprick’s worth of the stuff and it cleared my sinuses.
The ride was comfy and fun as I watched the country fly by. I had to time my photos very carefully so they wouldn’t become a blurry mess. Amy had the most interesting travel partner as she was seated next to a Buddhist monk and they had a most engaging conversation.
About 4:30pm we arrived in Hiroshima. We hopped a light rail and rode to the neighborhood where our next apartment would be located.
Our apartment in Hiroshima was well taken care of, but, man, was it tiny. Supposedly it could sleep the original 6 who were to be part of our group, but getting the four of us in was a rather tight squeeze. I found it difficult to believe that one person could live in this apartment for an extended period because there simply isn’t much room.
There wasn’t much on our minds except to explore the city a bit. I was struck by the impressiveness of the city when most of the city had been wiped off the map nearly 70 years prior due to the dropping of the atomic bomb. This was something we’d learn more about the next day when we visited the Peace Memorial.
Our group visited the main drag where we found a little toy and hobby shop that boasted a retro arcade on the second floor. Now this was an arcade that suited me. Pac-Man, Vs. Super Mario Bros., Rygar, Space Invaders: these were games suited to my tastes. I passed a bit of time playing Popeye while the rest of the group wandered about the store.
Food was the next thing on our minds so we found a Lotteria’s. Lotteria’s is kind of an upscale burger joint. I had a DX burger and fries which were OK. I didn’t think the quality of the food matched the price. From there it was more arcading, then back to the apartment for rest.
I had washed my clothes in the apartment’s washing machine and left them to dry overnight. With all the heat and humidity we’d been facing, I’d forgotten how good a fresh pair of clothes could feel as I dressed that morning.
We lounged around for most of the morning before getting some lunch at a nearby KFC. I had a simple chicken sandwich with some Coloneling potatoes which wasn’t too bad. After lunch, Mat led our little group to the Rihga Royal Hotel where he and Dave stayed 4 years prior. It seemed quite luxurious and boasted an impressive staircase in the lobby.
After that we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial which made for the most moving day on this journey. I can’t properly express the feelings I had as I walked around the museum, but it was very eye-opening to learn about the dropping of the atomic bomb from the point of view of the victims. The exhibits were quite powerful, sometimes even grisly, as we were educated about the effects and impact of the bomb. Several people working at the museum were survivors of that tragic day and hearing their stories added a depth and texture that I will never forget. It was a moment I was glad to have experienced.
At the end of this haunting experience, we hiked back to the main drag where we stopped at Mister Donut for a chewy treat and then gamed a bit more. Then we returned to our apartment to drop up the prizes of the others and burned a couple of hours before heading out to dinner.
Hiroshima is famed for its okonomiyaki, but we didn’t get to eat any. It was nearly 9pm when we ventured out and none of us knew that Hiroshima closed up early. Most of the restaurants closed about 9pm so we were forced to visit a McDonald’s before returning to our apartment for the night.