Finding Peace in Hiroshima
The beautiful city of Hiroshima, Japan is legendary for its natural surroundings and is the capital of the Hiroshima Prefecture. Just as exciting is the city's vibrant nightlife downtown, where the skyscrapers remind you that you're in a major city. The city holds annual festivals all year round that represent many cultures including an impressive Christmas set up filled with illuminated ornaments through the downtown streets every year.
Hiroshima is famous for its pancake-style dish called okonomiyaki & its fresh oysters. When visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Itsukushima Shrine, you can see the countless oyster traps along the shore. These are some of the most delicious oysters in the world and have made the city also known for some amazing oyster rice bowls and lunch boxes.
The city's dedication to their professional baseball team, the Hiroshima Carps, shows their loyalty and passion in a symbol that stands for one another. For a major metropolis, the people are kind and genuine who will go out of their way to help you. This type of welcoming and generosity makes me always look forward to spending great days amongst awesome people and an incredible city.
The Magnificent Hiroshima Castle
We started our adventure with plans of seeing the Hiroshima Castle before shopping at the Pacela Mall. It had been a while since my last castle so I was pretty excited because they always get me in the same mood I get when I watch an awesome documentary. Castles are symbols of power and everything in them were designed to maintain that power so we can admire the great details that went in to fortify them.
The castle grounds were interesting to see and we got a feel of what a modern army barrack may be like, in its simplest form. Hiroshima Castle also is known as Carp Castle. It still has a few of the stones that once belonged to the buildings that housed and trained the warriors that protected the castle. As we approached and entered Carp Castle, one can easily be in awe of the architectural details that make up the modern castle.
We entered Hiroshima Castle's museum and got a briefing on its history from its informative first floor. The history is well documented by visual and audio aids with a souvenir shop you can purchase educational books from.
The second floor is full of astonishing armor and swords both historic and modern.
If you're an O.G. gamer like me, then you'll want to spend extra time on this floor admiring the perfected craftsmanship that goes into making these weapons & sets of armor.
The following floors are full of artistic tapestries and full of displays dedicated to many artists and craftsmen of Hiroshima both past and present.
At the very top of Carp Castle, you can use its coined telescope to look over the city with the castle's remarkable view. It was there, that I took a deep breath and realized, I had found a piece of the peace that lives in Hiroshima.
I have been visiting Hiroshima for years, so as I looked over the city for the first time, I appreciated every person that had shown me great kindness over the years in Hiroshima.
Before we left the castle to visit the on-site shrine, we managed to find some samurai outfits they let visitors borrow and took some fun photos.
We stopped by to do a great deed at the Gokoku Shrine and ask the universe for empowerment. We washed the front of our mouths and our hands with the waters of the shrine's fountain like in all shrines across Japan.
In Buddhism, doing a great deed means adding selfless acts to your karmic cycle of lives. Many people visit temples & shrines to donate or even clean the temples & shrines. We had a very uplifting praise and donated for our great deed. I always love getting consecrated items as souvenirs so after we did our great deed, I manage to find two items for great health and protection while traveling. We left the castle extremely happy with the visit and headed to the Pacela Mall for a few rounds of power shopping.
The World Renowned Itsukushima Shrine
We began our day hanging out at Pacela Mall, had coffee, some ice cream, and had an excellent lunch before heading to Miyajima Island. We wanted to get there during low tide because the famous giant torii is submerged during high tide. As we exited the ferry, I was welcomed with an unexpected surprise. More than 1000 wild Sika deer live naturally with the locals and some even interact with island visitors.
The deer are abundant for such a small island and are along the coastline that's filled with restaurants, bakeries and souvenir shops. As you approach the Itsukushima Shrine, you see a lot of visitors standing next to the giant torii during low tide, taking thousands of photos. The Itsukushima Shrine is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so there are also a great number of tourists, not just Japanese visitors. We walked across the ocean floor to view the infamous giant torii and was in awe of the beauty of the ocean.
As I stood next to the giant torii, I marveled at the size of it and examined all the sea life that lives on its base. I understood why it's equally special during both times of the day. When the tide is high, the naturalistic water setting for the Itsukushima Shrine itself is breath-taking. During low tide, the giant torii gets the spotlight because of the access to it, for all the photographers and visitors. One could experience it all if you were able to get there in the morning or spend one night there and the whole day after before coming back to the mainland.
We decided to cross over the romantic rock bridge and admired the Itsukushima Shrine from the ocean floor. The bridge leads you to the end of the shrine and in front of Daigan-Ji Temple so we stopped in to do a great deed and say a Buddhist prayer.
We were greeted by the nicest bhikkhunī who explained to us the importance of the merging of Shintoism & Buddhism in Japan.
She taught us our greatest lesson in kindness and we happily did a great deed before moving on.
We walked back through the island's alleys full of shops and eateries tasting different food along the way. There were delightful souvenir shops that we bought countless items from and we also got to see the world's biggest wooden spatula on display.
We crossed back over on the ferry a little exhausted from all the walking and quite hungry from all the food tasting. We all had experienced the greatest time together on Miyajima Island. Next time, we'll have to experience it all again during high tide.
Hiroshima's Famous Oyster Rice Bowls
We found a small restaurant right at the ferry docks that served glazed oyster & grilled eel rice bowls and we wasted no time ordering. We ended the evening with one of the greatest meals to date, topped with a few bottles of Asahi beer. The eel was grilled to perfection and the glazed oysters were so large, it may have taken me four bites to eat one. The restaurant staff was welcoming in what seemed to be a family business.
We arrived back at our hotel exhausted and full of beer, oysters & eels. We continue to drink into the night and laughed about our Sika deer friends. I look forward to the day I get to return to Miyajima Island to experience the nature trails and the ropeway that takes you above and through the forest. A great way to spend the day for any adventurer. Our overall trips to Hiroshima are always wonderful mainly because of the kind and hospitable locals. There's always a smile on my face from priceless memories, when I leave Hiroshima on the Shinkansen.
Authored & Photographed by: @stewsak
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