Friday, 2 June 2017

Japan Tour (3-11 May 2017), Day 2 : Hiroshima

The Grand Torii of Miyajima Island
Bernie with 88 House in the background
On the way to Hiroshima station
Our train to Miyajimaguchi. Old trains stops at every single stations!
Inside the packed train...
Miyamaguchi station
Met a friendly Japanese cyclist at Miyamaguchi
A wall of oyster shells
Homes of the oyster farm owners
Oyster farm behind the restaurant
Workers cleaning the oysters
City tram
One of the many bridges in Hiroshima
Cool rides
Bone chilling
The newly reconstructed Aioi bridge, a replica of the 1932 design. The T-shaped bridge was the aiming point for the A bomb. The bomb missed its target but the bridge was badly damaged

We left the House at 7.30 am, after VT and Claudine made themselves a simple breakfast of soba noodles purchased from the cold section of Coop Supermarket the night before. It came complete with a sealed bag of soup and a choice of char siew or tofu. Suzie though, only munched on a bag of chips while Bernie was rolling on empty!

Breathtaking view from the road above 88 House

We descended the hills while the morning air was still cold and crisp. By the time we reached the intersection to the cemetery, the climb began! Out came the sweat from our pores and with that, we started undressing as well!!

There were no bike paths in this part of Japan. The roads were narrow on certain segments. Here and there were pedestrian paths and these left us in a dilemma .... should we be rolling over the people or the cars???

This morning, Bernie and Suzie covered their bikes with plastic covers meant for bikes, purchased from Daiso. It left the bottom of the wheels exposed allowing them to wheel the bikes into the station. Boarding the train for Miyajimaguchi, it was packed with students, workers and tourists as well.

Arriving at the station, we were astounded with the flood of devotees making a beeline for the ferry service to the island. Deciding not to rush with them, we scouted for breakfast and found an oyster farm serving a set, spread of oysters. Bernie and Suzie decided on it without hesitation but 2 kg of barbecued oysters, oyster omelettes and oysters fried with breadcrumbs later; they were almost sick!!!! While VT tried out a small order, Claudine who was turned off by the huge muscular morsels decided to return to the bakery they passed earlier. 

 After breakfast, we returned to the ferry terminal. As our JR tickets only allowed us passage on board and not our bikes, the port authorities helped us to purchase separate tickets for our bikes from the vending machines. Bringing our bicycles on board costs 100 Yen for each sector.

The ferry ride was short and brief. Bicycles were treated as vehicles, hence we board from the car lane. 

Arriving on the island 10 minutes later, the number of devotees overwhelmed us. Initially unaware, few of us joined the queue for the Itsukushima Shrine. The wait time was a shocking 180 minutes!!! 

On low tide, you can catch a lot of hermit crabs
Abandoning the queue, we went for the free for all, Grand Torii Gate instead! Situated by the sea, the great Torii is said to be the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds. Painted in bright vermilion colour, it is said to ward off evil spirits!

Crazy crowd
Rickshaw pullers are a real candy eye!!!
Deer behaving like dogs!!!
See the close human contact???

We did not spend a long time on the island. Even a short walk through the shops was a fight for space! The docile and friendly deers are so used to human contact, they even consume our food which are sadly not fit for them. If caught unaware, they will snatch the food right out from your hands !!!
Returning to the mainland, we took the new train back to Hiroshima. This express train makes less stops compared to our morning commuter.

Back in Hiroshima, we rode to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. A Unesco Heritage Site, it draws in the crowd. Approaching ground zero, we had to weave past throngs of tourists, all the while keeping an eye on the leader and sweeper so as not to lose anyone.

Arriving at the Atomic Bomb Dome, a sudden melancholy engulfed us. Gone was the crazy rush for space we endured earlier. Instead, a broody, quiet atmosphere hung in the air. The half collapsed building, in grey cement and stripped off paint evokes a bone chilling feeling of what happened on August 6, 1945.

Crossing the reconstructed Aioi bridge, we saw the convergence of the 2 rivers, Ota and Motoyasu. We took a walk in the park, rang the Peace Bell and soon made our way back to our House. War and Death was not something we enjoyed brooding over for too long!

7 train crossings with super precision timing, but this lady riding with stilettos caught our attention!
Cheap and affordable chain of restaurants
Squalid flats
The supermarket

Midway through our journey back to the House, we had a tea break at Sukiya, then top up our supplies from the adjacent supermarket. Prices near the low cost flats were not as inflated as in Coop. We tried out many snacks but the strawberries; not too sour and slightly sweet was enjoyed at the House's verandah once again.

That night, Bernie and Suzie skipped dinner. After settling the day's laundry, VT and Claudine rolled down the hill together and returned to last night's restaurant for another round of barbecued chicken thigh on bamboo skewers. It was good to load themselves up, as the next day was a grueling day at Shimanami Kaido!


Photo Credits ;
1. Bernie
2. Suzie

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