[Japan Series] Day 16: Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park 平和記念公園, Okonomimura お好み村, Hiroshima Castle 広島城

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The next morning, we woke up to the beautiful sunshine in Hiroshima. We had a quick breakfast at 7-Eleven near our Airbnb, and decided to take a short stroll towards the Peace Memorial Park. We had to cross this bridge from our Airbnb to get to the park.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

What a beautiful view from the bridge! This the Motoyasu River, which runs next to the A-Bome Dome.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Walking along the bridge, you will see the A-Bomb Dome.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The A-Bomb Dome is what’s left of the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. This building was used to promote Hiroshima’s industries. This is one of the few buildings that is standing today after the bomb. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a reminder of the past.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

You will find various information boards about the history but what we found the most interesting were the survivors you would find around the dome sharing pictures and stories with tourists. They provide many photographs of what the city looked like before and after, and although we could not understand the stories in Japanese, the pictures provided us with a vivid image of the past.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The remains of the past can be seen by locals and tourists alike as they drive along the bridge. To be honest, I find the remains to be rather saddening even though it is a good reminder of the past and what should never be repeated. I can’t imagine and wonder what it is like being a local and seeing this everyday going to work.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Further past the dome, you will find the Children’s Peace Monument. This monument is to commemorate Sadako Sasaki and thousands of child victims of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. Sadako was a young girl who died of leukemia from the radiation and is well known as the girl who wanted to fold a thousand cranes.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Under the monument, there is a bronze crane that acts as a wind chime.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Outside the monument, there are thousands of paper cranes. Sadako’s one wish was to have a world without nuclear weapons. You can learn more about Sadako’s story inside the museum.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Another bombed building near the park is the Rest House. It was originally a kimono shop, but now acts as a rest house and information center. There was actually a man who survived the bomb in the basement of the building and is the closest survivor to the hypocenter. You can actually make an advanced booking to visit the basement to see the preserved remains.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Moving along, you will find the Hiroshima Pond of Peace. Surrounding it is beautiful lush green grass. It really feels peaceful taking a stroll here.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Past the pond is a curved concrete monument that covers a cenotaph. It is aligned to frame the Peace Flame and A-Bomb Dome. It is a memorial with the names of all the people killed by the bomb.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is at the end of the park and educates visitors about the atomic bombing in Hiroshima in World War II. Admission to the museum is only 200 yen and very well worth it.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

There are two wings in the museum. On one side, it describes Hiroshima before the bomb, the development of the bomb, and why the bomb was dropped. On the other side, it shows the damage of the bomb.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

When we went, one side of the museum was under construction, so we only got to visit the side which showed the remains of the bomb. We saw many remains of clothing, watches, and personal items like bikes that were left after the radiation. Many of the displays are quite upsetting and remind us not to take peace for granted.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

I think we ended up spending around two hours in the museum. There is lots to see and each display has both Japanese and English captions. There are lots to learn and it was the highlight of our trip in Hiroshima. Inside the building, you will be able to get a view of the park as well.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

After visiting the museum, we decided to get on the Maple-oop which is a JR operated loop bus for tourists. This is perfect for those who have the JR Rail Pass, because getting on these buses are free and they stop at most of the tourist attractions. If you do not have the pass, you can pay 200 yen per ride or 400 yen for a 1-day pass. We found this very useful as there is English on the bus, and was a great way to sight see the whole city. Just note that the last bus is roughly before 6pm, so you will need to find alternate modes of transportation after.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

One of the stops on this bus included Okonomimura. If you get off at the Namiki Hondori stop, you will find Okonomimura a 2 minute walk away. This building has 24 okonomiyaki stores throughout its four floors! It was quite overwhelming and it took us a while to decide on which restaurant to eat at.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

We ended up at restaurant that featured oysters in their okonomiyaki as I hear that is a must try in Hiroshima. I really liked how you could watch the okonomiyaki being made in front of you.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Our okonomiyaki was definitely picture worthy! We got one with pork inside and topped with tons of green onions, oysters, and a sunny side egg. Amazing! However, I personally still prefer the Osaka-style okonomiyaki where all the ingredients are mixed together. I find that the Hiroshima style has way too much cabbage and the ingredients fall apart a lot easier. But still, this was delicious!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

After a late lunch, we headed to Hondori Street which is located in the downtown area of Hiroshima. This is just like any other Japanese city, where the shopping area is pedestrian only with a covered arcade. Since we had been in japan for over two weeks now, many of the shops were similar and we didn’t find anything too interesting. We also noticed that the downtown of Hiroshima was way less busy than the other cities we had visited. I guess this can be a relief for some who dislike the crowds.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

After some shopping, I suggested we visit the Hiroshima Castle ((広島城), since it is a stop on the JR sightseeing bus loop. Like most buildings, the oriignal Hiroshima Castle was destroyed during the atomic bomb. This was rebuilt with concrete and a wooden exterior. There is a museum inside providing information about Hiroshima’s history as well as Japanese castles. Entry is 370 yen, but we found the information to be just average. We personally aren’t interested in castles though.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

I guess what we enjoyed the most about the castle was that on the 4th floor, you can enjoy stunning views of Hiroshima city.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

We even got to catch sunset here! If you are looking for an observation deck in Hiroshima, then the castle isn’t a shabby one.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

As the evening arrived, we found the city to be rather quiet contrary to the bustling cities of Tokyo and Osaka. The city was dim and quiet, with many shops closing rather early. We decided to head back to our Airbnb and get some rest as we would have a full day of traveling back to Narita (which would take almost 6 hours) as we caught our flight back to Vancouver. Ending our trip in Hiroshima was perhaps a good way to end our trip as it was rather slow paced which paired perfectly with our tired legs. It was also a good reminder to not take things for granted in this world we live in.

And this concludes our travels in Japan! Hope you enjoyed our travels and found some useful information here! Feel free to email me or comment below if you have any other questions. Until next time, Japan!

 

 

[Japan Series] Day 15: Miyajima 宮島, Hiroshima 広島

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

On the last two days of our Japan trip, we would be spending it in Hiroshima (広島). From Osaka station to Hiroshima station, it takes around 2.5 hours with the JR bullet train. A long train ride, but the JR shinkansens are so comfortable, so time really passes by quickly.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Once we arrived at Hiroshima station, we needed to take a tram to our Airbnb. Hiroshima uses trams instead of trains to get around the city. There are a mix of new and older trams. This one is one of the newer trams and is quite nice!

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

The trams are quite spacious and work similar to the buses. You can use the Paspy and Icoca IC cards to pay for your fare on the trams and buses in Hiroshima.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

The city streets in Hiroshima are definitely much more modest and quiet. You won’t really find the neon lights and electronic billboards like you would find in Tokyo. I do appreciate that the city is much more spacious and the likelihood of being in crowds like in Tokyo and Osaka is unlikely.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Our Airbnb was a short walk from the tram and also walking distance from the A-Bomb Dome. The room was definitely very cozy and one of the smaller Airbnbs we stayed in. However, it had everything we needed and was extremely clean. There was even a huge bottle of sake for us to enjoy!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

After settling in, it was already mid afternoon, so we decided to head to Miyajima Island. Our initial plan was to visit the island the following day after visiting the Peace Memorial Museum as we thought it would be more uplifting, but due to the time we arrived, it didn’t make sense to visit the museum near closing.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

To get to Miyajima Island, we first had to take a tram to Yokogawa station. From there, we took the JR Sanyo line to Miyajimaguchi Station. You can also get to Miyajimaguchi Station from Hiroshima Station and that would take roughly 25 minutes.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

When you get to Miyajimaguchi Station, follow the signs and you will find the ferry pier.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The ferries depart quite frequently to Miyajima Island and only takes 10 minutes. This is covered under the JR rail pass if you have it.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The ferry is quite large and you can even stand outside to take pictures. I think you can also bring your car on the ferry. As we were departing quite late in the day, there were not that many people on the ferry, making it easy for us to get a good spot for sightseeing.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The ferry ride seriously goes by in no time. As we reached Miyajima Island (宮島), we saw the famous red torii gate which floats on water.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Once we got off the ferry, we realized that there are lots of deer on this island! Very similar to Nara, but of course not as many. I really wonder how they got to this island! If you don’t get a chance to visit Nara, then this will do!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Along the way, there are some shops that sell souvenirs and snacks.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

After a short walk, we reached the floating red torii gate. This is the view you get if you choose not to pay to enter the shrine. It’s pretty good but more on an angle. Unfortunately, there was a bit of construction going on, so the gate was slightly blocked. As we reached the island in the late afternoon, this was high tide and therefore the gate appears to be floating. If you arrive earlier in the day, the tide will be low and therefore you can actually walk all the way out to the gate! You should check out this website to time when you visit the island so you can hopefully visit at both low and high tide!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

This is the Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社) which is also built over the water. Entry fee into the shrine is 300 yen and consists of multiple buildings, including a prayer hall, a main hall and theater stage. You will also get a view of the torii gate straight on instead of at an angle. We didn’t end up going inside the shrine, but would imagine this is a great attraction especially during low tide so you can wakl straight up to the gate.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Not far from the shrine, a small hike will get you to the Senjokaku (千畳閣), which translates to the pavilion of 1,000 mats because the size of the pavilion can literally fit 1,000 tatami mats. This old building dates back to the 1587 and this costs 100 yen to enter. It is the largest structure on Miyajima Island.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The Five-storied Pagoda is adjacent to the Senjokaku and was originally built in the 1400s but restored in 1533. It enshrines the Buddha of Medicine and is quite beautiful to see up close. I don’t think you can enter inside, so the attraction is free to view.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

As the sun set, we decided to head back to the souvenir streets. Many of them had already closed as it was rather late. I imagine there isn’t much to do around the island at night if you stay overnight here.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

There was one shop that was bustling with crowds. This was the grilled oyster stall! There are actually many grilled oyster stalls along the Miyajima Omotesando shopping street. However, as we went pretty late, most of them were closed. This stall itself closed shortly after we placed our order as well.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Here, you can get a variety of ways the oysters are cooked. Of course, the most famous is to get them grilled with charcoal. The grilled oysters here are a pretty good deal at 2 for 400 yen. However, the downside is this is just a stall, so there are no seating areas. There are a few stools around but more of a quick eat and go stop.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

The oysters take a while to grill, so we walked around the streets before heading back to grab our order. Here, we have two grilled oysters. A nice char and the oysters themselves are plump and fresh. Highly recommend if you’re an oyster lover!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

We also got the deep fried oysters. These are smaller oysters which they have skewered onto a stick. Really good as well! If you are looking for a sit down restaurant for oysters, then Kakiya and Yakigaki are among the most famous on Miyajima Island. Oysters are a must eat in Hiroshima and Miyajima!

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Another well known food item is the Momiji Manjyu, which are maple leaf shaped pastries filled with a variety of filings including red bean, custard, chocolate, etc. There are many souvenir shops selling this pastry.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

Luckily, we were able to find a shop that sold single Momiji Manjyus since I just wanted to give it a try. We got one filled with custard and it was very tasty! Worth giving a try! After having some snacks, we decided to head back to Hiroshima by ferry as it was getting late.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

We did some research and learned that the 2nd floor of Hiroshima Station is the ASSE restaurant floor and filled with okonomiyaki shops. Okonomiyaki is very famous in Hiroshima and a must try. The okomiyaki here is very different than Osaka style as the ingredients are layered rather than mixed. Honestly, I don’t remember which restaurant we visited since they all look the same. Just head into one that has a decent amount of locals! This one had yakisoba noodles.

 

DSCF by SophiaHo on 500px.com

We also got another one which had yakiudon noodles. My favourite was the yakisoba as it is much lighter than the udon. These okonomiyaki’s are huge and is more than enough for one!

Overall, a nice day trip to Miyajima Island to relax and the next day we would visit the major attractions in Hiroshima.

Hiroshima Station Asse – 2nd Floor (Okonomiyaki floor)
Address: 2-37 Matsubara-cho, Minami-ku

 

[Japan Series] Day 10 Cont’d: Okonomiyaki at Mizuno 美津の in Osaka

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

After visiting Nara, we headed back to Osaka for the evening. We decided to go to the Dotonbori area again since it is always so lively at night. We walked around the Shinsaibashi shopping street first to check out some boutiques.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

As dinner neared, we headed towards the Dotonbori area and noticed a huge line forming outside this fairly undecorated restaurant called Mizuno. We quickly got in line while Googling what this restaurant was all about. Turns out this restaurant was featured on the 2016 Michelin Guide and is famous for their okonomiyaki. The restaurant has been running for 3 generations and over 60 years.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

The wait ended up being over an hour long. They give you a menu and take your order while you are waiting so there are no miscommunication issues with the chef. There are only around 8 seats at the bar, but some more seats upstairs. The bar is where you can see the action so luckily we got sat here. They prepare the okonomiyaki right in front of you, so it’s pretty fun.

 

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

Okonomiyaki is popular in the Kansai region and Hiroshima. On this trip, we end up getting the chance to try both! Osaka-style okonomiyaki is probably what you are more used to if you’ve had it in North America. The batter is made of flour, a grated type of yam, water or dashi, eggs, and shredded cabbage. You can then add ingredients such as octopus, squid, pork belly, shrimp, or vegetables. It’s said that Osaka is where the okonomiyaki originated so it’s a must try here! The difference is that in Osaka, the okonomiyaki is prepared similar to a pancake and the ingredients are all mixed together. This is quite different from Hiroshima style, where the ingredients are layered. As you can see, at Mizuno, you can choose to have soba noodles.

DSCF by info9813 on 500px.com

The okonomiyaki is not cheap here with most of them over 1,000 yen each. However, I think the high price is partly for the experience and show you get since you sit right in front of the teppan grill. We ended up getting two to share, which was a good amount since they are mostly carbs. We got one Mizuno-yaki with pork and one Modan-yaki. The Mizuno-yaki is what you would normally find but the flavours were way better. I have to say, this was probably the best okonomiyaki I’ve had. The okonomiyaki are dusted with seaweed powder and topped with mayo and a savoury sweet sauce. The Modan-yaki was also really good because it had crispy noodles. What I liked at the rsetaurant was that they give you a little metal spatula so you can serve yourself from the grill as you eat. The chef was kind to make sure our food did not get overcooked though when we ate too slow.

Overall, I thought the food was really good. Is it worth the 1 hour wait? Probably not if you are only visiting for a short period of time. But if you see the line pretty short, I would probably wait 30 minutes for this.

Mizuno
Address: 1-4-15 Dotombori, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0071, Osaka Prefecture

Kishimoto

IMG_9388

On my birthday, I asked to have dinner at Kishimoto. I’ve seen gorgeous platings from this Japanese restaurant for quite some time now, but Commercial Drive isn’t exactly the area I usually drive by. Finally, we made our way here, and there’s surprisingly quite a lot of free parking in the residential areas across the street. There was a line up as usual, and we waited roughly 15-30 minutes before we got a seat. The restaurant doesn’t have many fans, so it was boiling hot as well. Most of the servers and chefs looked and spoke Japanese, so I’m assuming it’s Japanese run. Not a huge restaurant though, so I see why there are always line ups.

IMG_9372

Hamachi Ishinabe

First, we got the Hamachi Ishinabe, which I apologize for the blurry picture. It’s very similar to a Korean bibimbap, where the rice is served in a hot stone bowl. It’s topped with hamachi fish, a raw egg, and some seaweed. When you squish the sides of the rice to the sides of the bowl, you get some crispy rice.

IMG_9373

The server helped mix the rice for us, and this is the final product. The fish was very soft and smooth, and I love the flavour of the sauce used. It tasted sort of like the unagi sauce.

IMG_9374

Salmon Oshi Sushi

Next was the Salmon Oshi Sushi. If you’re familiar with Miku’s signature Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, then you’ll find the one at Kishimoto very similar. Except it’s a few dollars cheaper! The sushi rice is shaped into a rectangular shape, topped with salmon, a creamy sauce and crackled black pepper and seared with a torch to give it a nice char. It’s then topped with a slice of jalapeno. Everything was great about this dish, but if you’re had Miku’s, then I think that their special Miku sauce still wins. Otherwise, I could settle for this less pricey version.

IMG_9379

Chopped Scallop Roll, Spider Roll, Dragon Roll

Kishimoto is known for their plating – especially that thinly sliced radish and edamame flower. I was excited when the rest of our rolls came, since it came just with that beautiful plating. It also came with a candle with a radish sliced into a cylinder. Super cool! You can basically eat all this art too, but I’m not sure how clean it is. On the top left was the Chopped Scallop Roll. Quite average, with a good amount of filling and fresh scallops. In front, was the Dragon Roll, which feature 2 pieces of prawn tempura, tobiko, and avocado and unagi on top. It was flavoured with an unagi sauce. On the right around the flower, there was the Spider Roll, which was filled with avocado, softshell crab tempura, massago, cucumber, and lettuce. It was wrapped around a thinly sliced sheet of radish.

IMG_9383

Salmon Sashimi (9pc) & Tuna Sashimi (6pc)

Then came the sashimi, which came in an impressive block of ice. That’s a huge block! The fresh fish were decorated with flowers and leaves. Super pretty! In the back were the Salmon Sashimi, which we opted for 9 pieces. Each were cut at just the right amount to have a a good texture. Very fresh! In front, the Toro Sashimi were curled up like flowers. Again, very fresh and the toro was smooth and buttery.

IMG_9384

Plain Okonomiyaki

Lastly, we had the Plain Okonomiyaki, which was probably one of my favourites! It came with a side of bonito flakes. The okonomiyaki was quite thick, but filled generously with vegetables. I loved the flavouring and it was something that helped fill our stomachs.

Overall, Kishimoto lived up to it’s hype. Great food at decent prices. I’m not sure if I would make the trip all the way here that often though. But if I’m in the neighbourhood, I wouldn’t mind coming here for some Japanese food!

Kishimoto Japanese Kitchen & Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon