When you come to Japan, you have to spend at least a day in Hiroshima. It’s not one of those places people skip, and hence there’s almost as many Westerners as Japanese in town.
Coming into town, you can’t miss the A-Bomb Dome, and you actually hold your breath as it comes into view. The A-Bomb Dome is a partially destroyed building which was right near the epicentre of the blast, and has been left as is. The only thing I could really compare it to was Dachau Concentration Camp, it was a similar feeling.
Just next to the A-Bomb Dome is the Peace Park, which is full of a number of monuments, including the one dedicated to Sadako and her paper cranes, and of course the Peace Museum. This museum is probably the only place in Japan that discusses the war, totally the opposite of Germany.
The Peace Museum took me over two hours to get through, it was mesmerising and extremely in your face – it told a number of the survivors stories, as well as having a number of items on display belonging to those who had died – shirts, watches, school lunchboxes. Next to every item would be a description of who it belonged to – at the end of the paragraph it would tell you that they died. It was the same line for every single one.
Hiroshima is actually quite a nice little city, and very tourist-friendly. That’s ‘cos there’s lots of them, almost all part of tour groups and almost all American. The remainder are almost all German. Make of that what you wish. I met more Germans in Hiroshima than I did in the whole of Europe, and I went out with a bunch of them for karaoke one night.
Just outside of Hiroshima is Miyajima, an island that houses a famous temple. But more famous than the temple is the temple’s gate – it looks as if it is floating. Thankfully a friend had told me to get there late in the day so the tide would be in, so it actually looked as if it was floating rather than just sitting in mud. The island was a little like Rottnest – but instead of quokkas running around there were deer, and lots of them.
Oh, and one other thing – Germans cannot sing.