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SOLO JAPAN II 14.-28.3.2004.
introduction | departure day
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conclusion of my trip | photo gallery II
Friday, 26th of March 2004
Hiroshima -> Tokyo

Day Thirteen:
Hiroshima at a glance

Limited time to explore Hiroshima

Today my sightseeing at Hiroshima will be narrowed down to the Peace Memorial park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum. This is because I'll have to reserve several hours for the journey back to Tokyo, where I will meet Shiho again for the remaining weekend before returning to Finland.

The museum and park was located near the youth hostel. As the museum was still closed when I got there early in the morning, I took my time walking around the Peace park while enjoying the clear and warm weather.

Hiroshima's fate

Although this shouldn't be anything new to you readers and I don't want to sound like a history teacher, let me briefly go through the moment that changed recent history. I'll try to keep this short.

Like I mentioned earlier in the case of Nagasaki, the United States of America wanted to use the atomic bomb to speed up the end of the Second World War and to force Japan for an unconditional surrender.

Hiroshima was decided to be the first target for the A-bomb. The city had major military facilities and troops, it hasn't been heavily bombed before like many other cities in Japan and the topography and size guaranteed optimal destruction.

At 8:15am on August 6th 1945, the first atomic bomb exploded 580 meters above Hiroshima, turning most of the city into a pile of burning rubble. Thousands of people died instantly and by the end of December due to the after effects of radiation and severe injuries, a total of 140,000 lives were lost.

Peace Memorial Park

There were many kinds of monuments sprinkled around the park. In the far north of the park there was the so called "A-bomb dome", one of the few buildings that remained standing after the atomic bomb's brutal blast, which was at that time the Hiroshima prefecture industrial promotion hall.

The museum opened and it turned out to be very budget friendly. The deposit for the coinlocker is returned after use and the admission fee for adults was only 50 yen! The museum was naturally pretty much the same by concept as in Nagasaki, only much bigger.

Madness of war

Understandably the museum highly condemned the use of the atomic bomb, but was also surprisingly critical of the actions of the Japanese Imperial army during the war too. They even mentioned the Nanjing Massacre in China - a highly sensitive issue for Japan as China is still waiting for an official apology for it (along with other atrocities done during the Second World War).

Like the museum in Nagasaki, this museum also focused on the development and dangers of the nuclear age. For example it was rather sickening to know that in 1961 the former Soviet Union made a successful hydrogen bomb test that was estimated to be 4000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Luckily the nuclear tests have dramatically dropped since the cold war, but the threat of nuclear weapons still remains.

After the museum visit I picked up my backpack and went to take a look at the Hiroshima castle before heading for the train station. The cherry blossom season was starting in Hiroshima, so there were some people sitting under some of the trees, eating and drinking while admiring the blossom flowers.

Slowly returning back to Tokyo

From the castle I walked to the station and reserved seat tickets back to Tokyo. For some reason I was recommended that I take a non-reserved seat from Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka. Once I got on board the shinkansen that would take me to Shin-Osaka, closer inspection of the tickets revealed that there was something odd about them.

It turned out that I wouldn't make it in time to Shin-Osaka for the shinkansen to Tokyo I was supposed to get on, so I was given a useless seat ticket. That was okay since these seat reservations don't cost me anything, but what did annoyed me was that this shinkansen (Kodama type) stopped at every single shinkansen station there was between Hiroshima and Shin-Osaka, ten stops total and making the ride last three long hours. A normal Hikari shinkansen would have sorted this under two hours.

Mobile phone culture

I made a new seat reservation at Shin-Osaka and got on board a Hikari shinkansen bound for Tokyo. During the ride I took note of the etiquette for mobile phone usage. Both Finland and Japan are heavy mobile phone users, but unlike in Finland the Japanese haven't forgotten the consideration of others when talking on the phone (or alternatively they are shy to talk about personal issues in public).

For instance they very rarely talk on the phone in trains and in shinkansens there is always an announcement asking passengers to "switch their mobile phones to silent mode". If they make or receive a call during the ride, they simply go to the corridor to talk where no one is disturbed.

Finally back in Tokyo

I arrived at Tokyo, called Shiho and agreed to meet at Mejiro station. From there we headed back to her apartment. The rest of the evening went past by eating a great meal she had prepared and - surprise surprise - watching television.

Just to give you an example how weird these Japanese tv-programs are (and they are!), there was a show where Jackie Chan(!) and a Japanese band (Tokyo) had to race around Japan and buy certain souvenirs. The trick here was that they could only use a limited amount of foot steps (they had sensors counting them under their shoes), so they had to come up with strange ideas how to keep the footstep count as low as possible. Hilarious stuff in a very Japanese way!

I also backed up my digital photos on Shiho's computer and checked my e-mail after a long break (last time was at Nagasaki).

The south in review

Looking back at my "southern tour", the first thing that pops into mind was the tight schedule. I simply didn't reserve enough time to explore the places in a more slower pace. And again, although shinkansens are fast, sitting in a train for 3-5 hours a day does eat away most of the time you would rather be exploring a location.

That said, it can't be exactly called a failure either. I saw a lot during those five days, but there was so much that I had to leave behind for another time. The south left me hungry for more.

back to top | proceed to day fourteen!

 

Photo copyright Ude
The Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims.

Photo copyright Ude
The Hiroshima prefecture industrial promotion hall, today known as the A-bomb dome.

Photo copyright Ude
There were all types of monuments standing around the Peace Memorial Park. This one for instance is a Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students(!).

Photo copyright Ude
A miniature demonstrating Hiroshima after the atomic bombing. The red ball indicates where the bomb exploded.

Photo copyright Ude
Hiroshima castle and some hints of cherry blossom.

Photo copyright Ude
The kodama type shinkansen that will take me to Shin-Osaka.

LINKS TO SERVICES, PLACES, ETC. MENTIONED TODAY:
Hiroshima Peace Site - This website has tons of material dealing with the a-bomb, the current status of nuclear weapons and the efforts taken for world peace.
Hiroshima Navigator - Very cute looking website where you can get good info of the city from a tourist's point of view.
Guide to Japanese castles - If you are interested in Japanese castles, be sure to check out this neat website.
Copyright 2003-2019 © , second edition. Latest minor update 4th of May 2010 (fixed and deleted broken links)