After activating the JR Rail Pass our first trip was the long ride from Kawasaki near Tokyo to Hiroshima. First a short metro trip to Shin-Yokohama then the Shinkansen bullet train to Hiroshima.
On this train ride we first experienced the hospitality and helpfullness that is Japan.
As we were waiting for the train a Shinkansen pulled into the station with “Hiroshima” on the trip board. It was earlier than the one we’d planned from the train schedule app. But prompted by Roger we jumped in ... to find we were in a train very full of smartly dressed business looking people.
The conductor came along checking tickets and after looking at ours told me he’d be “coming back”. It was a bit ominous and I had an uneasy feeling that there was something wrong.
A short while later he returned and crouched down looking at a timetable book and started writing on a piece of paper. My thought was “how much extra will we have to pay?”, "how serious is this?" He then stood up and informed me “ you are not allowed on this train with the JR rail pass”. My stomach sank! He went on explaining that we would have to get off at the next station as he handed me the piece of paper on which he had written down the details of the correct trains we would have to take.
Relief! We were very thankful and had learned a lesson. Systems in Japan work ... no second guessing HyperDia..
Important JR Rail Pass Tip
The essential app to use is HyperDia. With the JR switch activated it will ensure you never board a train where you are not permitted. It also provides public transport options plus any charges related to the trip options.
Before arriving in Hiroshima I had contacted the hotel about the best way to get from the station to the hotel. They had suggested the tram and provided details of the tram number and the stop to get off. It worked like clockwork. Although it finally involved a short walk on a rainy day it was both easy and cheap.
The Atomic Bomb
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped the atomic bomb known as "Little Boy" on Hiroshima.
The explosion instantly killed more than 70 000 people, mainly children and old folk. Over the next five years another 70 000 people died from radiation. Up to today many more thousands have continued to suffer death and illness from the radiation.
Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima has become a spiritual centre of the peace movement for the banning of nuclear weapons.
The park is located at the epicentre of the blast and contains a museum, the remnants of buildings destroyed by the 1945 atomic bomb and monuments to the people killed by this nuclear attack.
Understanding Hiroshima’s relatively recent devastation makes one appreciate its tranquility, beauty and spirit.
Atomic Bomb Dome
This is the preserved remains of one of the buildings which was not obliterated by the blast.
Sightseeing in Hiroshima is very convenient. Sights are within walking distance so from the Atomic Bomb Dome we went to Hiroshima Castle. It has an interesting history and is worth a visit.
Located in the heart of the city the gardens are not considered as one of the top gardens in Japan. However it is tranquil and makes a pleasant refuge from the bustle of the city.
The Itsukushima Shrine is situated on the nearby island of Miyajima. A short train ride from Hiroshima is the town of Miyajimaguchi from here you take a short ferry ride to the island - this was free on the JR Rail pass.
The imposing orange torii gate of the temple is spectacular. At high tide it's in the water and at low tide on the beach.
The area has a number of temples and shrines. After looking at, and through them, we took the cable car to the view site. From here we walked to the top of the mountain and then slowly made our way down. It was a good hike ... steep and a little challenging.
A good day trip.
Comments and Thoughts
- Hiroshima is a special city. With a feeling of dignified serenity and calm.
- Never believe that nuclear war will solve a problem. The victims are not combatants but mainly innocent children and old people.
- Politicians make terrible decisions. In my view the dropping of this nuclear bomb was vindictive. It was not justified as the Japanese had already started surrender negotiations.
- Realise that history is a story about the facts. It is often written by the victor ... and there's always another side.
- With a JR Rail Pass never take a train that is not detailed by HyperDia. If you aren’t using a JR Pass than make sure the JR pass is not active on the app. All trip options and prices will then be shown.
- Always contact the hotel for the options of getting from the airport or train or bus station. Metros, buses or trams are often convenient and cheap - but airport transfers are not!