Kyoto and Hiroshima
17.03.2016 - 18.03.2016
On Thursday I had plans to go to Kyoto for the day so I left the hotel at 7am and made my way via Shinjuku station to Tokyo station to catch the 8am Shankensen train. As my rail pass was for the Green 1st class cars my train ride was in a wide comfortable seat in a quite carriage.
The highlight of the trip down was going past Mount Fuji, this time there was no cloud and the views were amazing. On arriving in Kyoto I first visited a large 14th century Shinto shrine followed by the Kyoto museum which covered the history of this ancient city. In the late afternoon I visited the gardens of the Imperial Palace from the time that Kyoto was the Japanese capital. The hotel I was staying in was a traditional Japanese one. You had to remove your shoes on entering and then wear different pair of slippers depending on where you were in the building. There was no bed but instead a Japanese futon, a thin mattress, that had to be unrolled before going to bed.
The next morning, I caught a direct Shankensen train to Hiroshima. This was one city I have wanted to visit since first learning about the atomic bomb attack. When I arrived it was raining so I bought an umbrella and started to walk the 1½ miles to the memorial site. There are a number of memorials around the site of the bomb explosion. There is a domed building that is the last remaining of those that partially survived the attack. This was almost directly under the explosion and the shell that still stands is also what remained on the day. Across the river is a cenotaph and a museum about the bomb and its aftermath. The museum contained items recovered from around the area including clothing and small parts of buildings showing the effect of the blast. In addition, there were accounts of the day and those that followed from those that survived. Some had been recorded by actors and others by the people themselves. There was one that was particularly harrowing told by the man himself in Japanese and with a written translation. He had to wait 3 days before the heat from the fires had cooled down to try and find his wife in their house, which stood on the site of the cenotaph. All he could find were her bones which crumbled on touch.
That afternoon I returned to Tokyo, getting back late in the evening.