Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This past Sunday I had a (not-so-secret?) rendezvous with my girlfriend in Hiroshima. It was my third time to visit the city, and each trip has been a very different experience. Hiroshima is one of my favorite places in Japan, and one that I actually requested when I applied to the JET Programme. It's the home of two world heritage sites - Hiroshima Peace Park and Itsukushima Shrine.

As an American, visiting Hiroshima, especially the Peace Park, stirs up complicated emotions. It's a very moving and peaceful place. It's strange how places where so many people died are often so peaceful. Be it rational or not, I always feel both guilty and ashamed when I visit Peace Park and the Genbaku Dome. It's not the kind of American self-loathing that some radicals back in the States display, but it's more a sadness that it was my that country killed this many civilians and was the first (and hopefully only) nation to unleash such devastating power. I have to consciously remind myself that it was a different generation, and that none of the Japanese I've encountered in Hiroshima have blamed America. Rather they view it as a mutual failing and as a great tragedy. Visiting Peace Park can be a rather heavy experience, so it's probably good that we didn't spend much time there.

The other site we visited is probably my favorite tourist attraction / cultural site in the world: Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island. It is an old Shinto shrine that was constructed on an island off of Hiroshima City. You have probably seen pictures of it - when the tide comes in, the giant Torii gate built before it is largely swallowed up by the sea. The water comes all the way up to and partway into the shrine itself. Miyajima also offers the best grilled oysters I've ever had (though I didn't eat any this trip), and people dig for shellfish on the beach when the tide goes out. The only downside to Miyajima is the presence of my nemeses.

Hiroshima is also famous for its namesake style of okonomiyaki. Hiroshima style incorporates soba noodles. The restaurant we tried also had udon-okonomiyaki on the menu, but they were out of udon noodles when we arrived. It was a nice little joint - we chatted a little with a couple of the locals and the cook, who happened to be a big fan of divas like Carly Simon and Shania Twain. He also randomly spoke Spanish.

We also wanted to sample some Hiroshima 日本酒 (nihonshu), but as it was a Sunday night most places were closed. We wound up getting some low-quality conbini 日本酒 watching Slum Dog Millionaire. The good stuff will have to wait until next time!





広島の日本酒も飲んでみたかったけど日曜日だったから開いてる店は見つけにくかった。だからコンビ二で日本酒買ってSlum Dog Millionaireって映画を観た。いいお酒は今度にね。


  1. I felt the same way visiting the Genbaku dome, very ominous, it was strange seen people there from many different countries laughing and having a good time. I was able to try a couple of the local nihonshu brews, but wasn't terribly impressed. What Okonomiyaki place did you eat at?

  2. Hey David,

    Thanks for having a read. Yeah, it's especially strange to see people (including Japanese) taking smiling pictures in front of the dome.

    We ate at a place called かんらんしゃ. Do you know it? It wasn't too far from the Park.

  3. I went to Hiroshima Genbaku Kinenkan in 2008 summer.In there I saw a tourist group of Japanese-American people visiting from Hawaii or CA. It was a big group of around 15 adults and 15 kids(小学生). More than half of the visitors were non-Japanese when I was there. A lady from Hiroshima city I met there told me that it's more sad to be treated as 被爆者 by Japanese people even long after 被爆日.(sorry it's long a comment)

  4. Hey Taeko,

    Don't think it's such a long comment. Yeah, every time I go I see a lot of foreigners there.