Last weekend I took a trip by myself and went to Hiroshima. Ever since deciding that I was going to spend this year in Japan, I knew Hiroshima was one of the places that I simply had to visit. There is so much history in the city and I wanted to get another perspective on what happened there during the war. Since finals are coming up I knew I couldn't spend too much time in Hiroshima, so I decided to spend only 1 day. I took the night bus on Friday, spent the day on Saturday exploring, and came home on the night bus on Saturday. It was a full day, but I definitely felt that I was able to see everything that I wanted to see on this trip.
My first stop was the Peace Memorial Park and the museums commemorating the Atomic Bombing.
This is a building that was partially destroyed during the bombing and has been left in it's destroyed condition as a memorial.
I really liked these little mural things. My assumption is that they commemorate the work all the civilians put in for the war effort.
Children's Peace Memorial
I knew that going through the Museum was going to be a very emotional experience. However, I don't think I expected it to hit me quite like it did. After wandering through the park and taking a bunch of pictures of all the statues and memorials I went through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. After that I went to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. The way this second building is set up is amazing. You walk in and go down a sloping, counter-clockwise pathway, to symbolize going back in time. At the end of the pathway you come to the Hall of Remembrance. The walls in this room are painted to look like Hiroshima before it was bombed. In the center of the room is a fountain shaped like a clock stopped at 8:15. Around the room are small benches where you can sit and just reflect. Sitting in this quiet room looking through my brochures and listening to the fountain, suddenly it hit me. I felt overwhelmed with emotion, and the only coherent thought I had was how nice the woman at the front desk had been when she gave me 2 small paper cranes as a souvenir. I felt overpowered by the utter horror that the people in Hiroshima had witnessed and survived. After this powerful experience I was glad I had gone to Hiroshima by myself; it gave me plenty of time to absorb what I had seen.
My next stop was out to Itsukushima Shrine, commonly known as Miyajima Shrine.
Depending on where the tide is, the big, red torii gate can either be submerged about 1/3 of the way up in water or it can be completely uncovered like in my photos. I loved that I went at a time when it was not submerged. I was able to walk right up to this incredible structure and stand directly underneath it. If I ever return to Hiroshima however, I would love to see it partially submerged in water.
My last stop was to Hiroshima Castle. The original castle was destroyed, but they rebuilt it and it still looks wonderful.
I am so glad that I finally took the opportunity to go to Hiroshima. It has definitely become my favorite place in Japan, and I would love to go back and see more of the city.
P.S. the tea of the day is the nameless, delicious tea that I received as a present ^_^