Miss day 10? Catch up here!
Today, I took a day trip to Hiroshima all by myself, which was terrifying, but I asked God to guide my steps, and He did! It turned out to be a full but wonderful day.
While waiting at Hakata Station, I watched the train timetable and noticed that there was an earlier shinkansen going to Hiroshima as well. Because my ticket was for open seating and I had a JR Pass, for some reason I thought I could get on an earlier train. It was a Mizuho, which I figured was safe since I thought JR Pass holders couldn’t ride Hikari trains.
So after praying about it and texting my mom, I felt like I should get on. Immediately, I felt like I was on the wrong train after all, but it was too late. The train began to pull away as I was sitting down.
Turns out that my weird thoughts – that the JR Pass couldn’t be used for Hikari trains – were incorrect. JR Pass holders can use Hikari trains. Not Mizuho.
Immediately my head started hurting, but I made myself relax and just gave it to God. If I’d misunderstood His direction, I knew He could work with that anyway. I was just praying for things to work out, not even very specifically. My mom, meanwhile, was praying that I would just blend in with the crowd and not have to pay for the train.
Upon arriving at Hiroshima Station, I was baffled by the amount of renovation going on – it made the place way more confusing, and it seemed the city knew that, because there were volunteers everywhere. I spoke with a girl who had a sign indicating she spoke English, and told her where I needed to go. As we headed that way, I also told her about my situation, and she said, “No, you don’t need to pay. They don’t really care.”
I was skeptical, but praise God, I simply showed my pass as we walked through the gates, and the staff smiled and waved me through.
Let me just state here that I don’t recommend doing that all the time! It was totally God-orchestrated and there really isn’t much of a difference in convenience using Nozomi or Mizuho trains versus the other bullet trains. The Mizuho train got me to Hiroshima earlier because it left earlier, not because it went faster. It still took 66 minutes.
Eek. I definitely didn’t mean to do it, but I’m glad it all worked out. o_o;
The girl also helped me get on the tram (streetcar) and told me which stop to get off at for the Atomic Bomb Dome. Thank you so much!! You were such a help!
Immediately after crossing the street, I was greeted by a man who gave me a mini pamphlet that seemed to be Christian material. Even as a Christian, I’m skeptical of pamphlet distribution since it’s been abused in the past and there’s such a stigma about it now. ^^; Curiously, the pamphlet was entirely in English, so it was obviously meant for tourists. It was an interesting welcome to the Dome for sure.
Suddenly I noticed my Wi-fi was no longer connected, and while I stopped to figure out what was wrong, another man came up to me asking if I had a guide for the park. It turned out that he was training to be a volunteer English tour guide and wanted to know if he could practice with me. So once I plugged my pocket Wi-fi into my portable charger, off we went!
He kept having to wait for me because I wanted to take so many photos. XD
It was quite cute, because as he was explaining things, he kept looking back at his printouts and comparing the English with the Japanese to make sure he knew what he was actually saying. Sometimes he would just point and show me if he was having difficulty with it. I saw different parts were highlighted and he had notes about word meanings and things. So cute! He was really trying and I appreciated it a lot!
I think it helped both of us that I could understand enough Japanese to communicate decently aside from English, and he could further explain what he meant by telling me the Japanese word.
I got to ring the Bell of Peace too.
As a part of his guide packet, he had several photos to illustrate his explanations, including before and after pictures of the bombing, and details of other sites I hadn’t heard much about like the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound under which the cremated remains of unidentifiable victims are housed.
This is the Children’s Peace Monument.
I also got to ring this bell, which is shaped like a crane.
The guide apologized for not being able to get a photo without other people in it, but I didn’t mind.
They even have a rose garden, which boasts species of all kinds. I especially liked this type.
If I remember correctly, this was a bank when the bomb hit, and even though it was close to the epicenter, it didn’t get destroyed. Don’t quote me on that though.
This flame keeps burning, in hopes that one day, nuclear weapons will be no more.
This memorial monument shows excellent design in that when you stand in a certain place, you can see the Atomic Bomb Dome and the flame in perfect alignment.
I decided not to go into either of the main buildings since my feet were already hurting and I still had two more places I wanted to visit in Hiroshima.
My guide and I parted ways at the National Peace Memorial Hall; I thanked him for his tour and went inside to rest from the heat and the weight of my bag.
As you walk farther inside, the pathway leads you back in time, symbolically, to the exact moment the bomb hit.
Wow. It was very somber. I just hate how such horrible things happened. At the same time, they bombed us first, and I wonder how many more people would have died had the war not ended with that horrid bomb. 😕 And then, humans have been murdering each other since the beginning. I really, really hope we stop that. It’s just not right.
Exhibitions sharing photos of victims and their stories drive home the gravity of everything. It’s so sad that this keeps happening around the world–that lives of some are cut short, legacies are lost, and some people don’t even get a chance to be born. It makes me very grateful for God’s redemption, and the blessing that although there is evil in the world, there is far more good.
After eating lunch on a park bench and a WhatsApp call with my mom, I began to head towards Hiroshima Castle….
…but not before a pit stop.
People back home wanted to see Japanese toilets, so…. Behold!
Do not stand on it or throw the toilet paper in the trashcan, or the toilet police will come for you (joke).
This plaque was in front of a hospital.
Hiroshima Castle isn’t far from the Peace Park!
It’s so interesting how historic places are nestled into modern life in Japan – the castle’s moat was surrounded by things like tennis/volleyball courts and tall buildings.
No photos are allowed inside except for designated spaces, so I definitely think I would like to come back with my family so they can see it!
The view from the top floor is pretty nice! I was so grateful for pleasant weather.
The first floor is supplemented with a lot of English, but the higher you climb the stairs, the less English there is. So the less Japanese you know, by the time you get to the top, you’re basically looking, thinking the display cool, and moving on.
After buying a bottle of water and resting for a bit (because my feet were killing me), I readied my Maps app and headed for Shukkeien Gardens.
It’s super easy to get to from the castle.
The entrance is inconspicuous; you just have to keep walking until you see an opening with lots of green beyond.
It’s such a beautiful park. You can easily forget you’re in the middle of the city until you see the buildings through the trees.
I considered stopping at this tea shop, but I wasn’t hungry since I’d just eaten, so I only snapped a photo.
It’s a truly lovely space that I’m sure would be gorgeous in the fall, as I noticed a lot of Japanese maple trees.
Again, I took some time to rest on a bench, read, and rehydrate. It was quite relaxing, though around 4:30 I got this nagging feeling like I really needed to get going, so off I went, finishing the main loop around the garden and exiting quickly.
Once I got back to Hiroshima Station, I immediately made a beeline for a souvenir/7-11 shop just inside the entrance, picking up another bottle of water and a box of momiji manjuu to take back for omiyage. Then I checked the time: 5:17. I checked my shinkansen ticket: 5:25.
I pretty much almost sort of ran to the platform.
I’m thankful the staff at the JR pass check booth pointed out where to go, or I would have stormed in the wrong direction, too. Phew. God seriously takes care of me!!
Exhausted but relieved to make it back to Sharely Style safely and without trouble, I happily took off my shoes and put away my JR Pass. I’m so glad I decided to make the trip; I truly think I would have regretted not using the pass to the extent that was possible. And praise God that I didn’t have to pay for that Mizuho!
Next time, I’m definitely going to double check my trains, though I’m pretty sure I won’t forget thanks to this experience!