Gardens, atomic devastation and floating torii – Japan 2006

Another full day of sightseeing.

We caught the 8:38am Shinkansen to Okayama, home of the Koraku-en garden, one of Japan’s top three.

The garden was an easy tram ride from the station. We entered via the South exit, taking a walk around the reconstructed black castle and across the river.

The garden has many facets, from wooden tea houses to green lawns, paths under blooming cherry trees, a tea plantation, islands in the ponds.

B posed with a troop of the tiniest, cutest school kids imaginable. We stopped for a mug of bitter green tea and sticky rice balls.

From Okayama another Shinkansen carried us to Hiroshima. There we paid our respects at the A-bomb dome and other monuments to the devastation wrought by nuclear weapons. Saddest was the monument to the children in honour of Sadako of the Thousand Cranes.

The Peace Museum conveyed the horrors of the attack, particularly for the children. The remains of the uniforms of Children who had been labouring out in the open. Awful, saddening and it is to be hoped that Hiroshima and Nagasaki will never be joined by any other cities on this planet.

A local train and ferry ride away from Hiroshima is Miyajima, the island famous for the oft photographed Floating Torii. It was mainly floating in mud when we arrived, though the situation had improved somewhat by the time we departed the island by ferry.

It was late by the time we arrived and everywhere, including the shrine and noh stage was closing down. We bought some Momijima (filled soft pastries), but the was nowhere to eat.

Likewise at Miyajima-guchi on the mainland the restaurants were closing, so we caught the train back to Hiroshima. There we caught another tram down toward Okonomi-muri, multiple levels of small stalls devoted to cooking okonomiyaki (Japanese “pizza”) on hot plates in front of you. B ordered here with kaki (oysters). The Hiroshima variety contain soba noodles. I preferred the previous night’s okonomiyaki in Osaka.

Now it’s back to Osaka on a silver and gold “Rail Star” Hikari Shinkansen, gazing out at cities and towns of neon and castles lit up in the night.

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