Monday morning we were up early and out the door to Hiroshima, for a day trip. There is a sense of responsibility of ensuring that the message that the people of Hiroshima want to be shared, be experienced by as many people as possible. Our third visit to the “City of Water” was as confronting, traumatic and inspiring as ever. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum has recently been renovated and reopened in April of this year. I had visited the Museum in 2015, and the renovation is extraordinary. The experience is wrenching and difficult and walking through the darkened rooms you can audibly hear people sobbing as they view the reality of the impact that a single bomb had generated. The new display is certainly more graphic and the virtual reality relief map as you walk in is totally overwhelming.
The message of peace and hope that I experienced on my first visit remains, but the message of the reality of the devastation is stronger, harder hitting and I am quite sure there is not a human alive that could walk through the museum and not be moved by the articles of clothing of school children vaporised in the blast. The horror of the story of the heat and thirst and the sticky black, acid rain that people were drinking, in desperation, unaware of the effect it would have on them. The long-term effects of the radiation, the water contamination, the lack of food. The melted glass and steel and just utter decimation of the city. It is such a heavy burden that humans carry that we have the means to eradicate our own species.
We returned to the station and had a quick lunch before getting on a local train to reach the Miyajima ferry terminal. Miyajima, or Itsukushima, is an island in the Hiroshima Bay. The giant red floating Torii Gate marks the entrance to the shrine and the island is home to wild wandering deer. We decided to split up and all do our own thing. We ended up re-attracting Mya, Abby and Ewan, after watching the girls stalking the deer across the sand, and as we have been through the shrine several times we decided to explore a section of the Mt. Misen trail, a popular climbing trail on the island. Luckily I did not see the warnings for vipers before we headed off, or I may have missed the spectacular waterfall, temples and jizo along the way. It was a pretty sticky and humid climb, but well worth the discomfort for the scenery. It was amazing.
We had decided to meet back at the ferry terminal, and we set off back to Hiroshima station to get another shinkansen back to Kyoto. We decided on a train dinner from the kombini (always delicious, and soooooo convenient). We arrived back in Kyoto about 15 hours after we left. A massive day trip, but an absolute must for anyone travelling here. Hiroshima is a beautiful city full of hope and a strong message to convey to all that will listen.