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19 December 2017


with only so many days in japan, we planned to see and do as much as we possibly could - including as many day trips as we could squeeze in. one of those many day trips, and one that was in everyone's "must see" column on the old google sheet (yes, really), was to visit historic hiroshima, and traditional miyajima. seeing as they are both in reasonable travelling distance from osaka (with special thanks to those wonderful trains), and with two and a half days to play in japan's second-city, we decided to spend our first full day in the country visiting these two amazing places.

our first stop was hiroshima. it was only about two and a half hours on the shinkansen from osaka, in which time we got to see so much of the japanese countryside, and pass many of the incredible and iconic buildings (like himeji castle, in fact) - which was an added bonus. we just *had* to visit hiroshima, for obvious reasons..: its involvement in, and scars from the last world war are proudly there for all to see, worn as a badge of honour by the small city, and that's something special indeed. we started in the peace park. we jumped on the sightseeing bus from the train station, and our jr passes meant the sightseeing bus was freeee, which was great. from the peace park, a beautiful and tranquil green space surrounded by the city's river, we wandered. amongst school trips and holiday makers and history buffs and locals alike, we wandered.

we wandered from memorial to memorial, and because it's the right thing to do, we visited the museum and had an overwhelming cry at the extent of the atrocities that wrecked the city in the 40s. an utterly unbelievable cry. we then wandered to the a-bomb dome and had another intense cry. i mean, the park is so beautiful and tranquil, and yet is the result of one of the most devastating events ever, which.. is hard to comprehend.. which makes it hard to explain. we didn't spend much more time in hiroshima after that - we didn't venture into the city at all (other than to eat some okonomiyaki  - a weird cabbage and egg pancake thing, as it's from there), choosing to jump on the ferry and head to miyajima instead; the day was getting away with us, and we were probably too emotional to really notice much more. did i mention is was rather.. exhausting?

miyajima though! a half hour ferry from hiroshima (and another free trip, with the jr pass), and the most beautiful place we'd seen yet. osaka is bustling and grimy, hiroshima (to us) was history and devastation, but miyajima? on first sight, it was the most japanese thing i'd ever seen. it was like the opening scene of a japanese film, or the scenery you think of when you imagine japan. it was stunning, and we were ready to explore! we jumped off the ferry, and the first thing we saw? deer! real life deer! just being themselves, hunting through people's bags, following tourists down the road, stalking every single human they found, scrounging for food. any food. all the food. we had no food, they did not like us.

we had business in miyajima: we were there to see the world famous floating torii gate. y'know: the red emoji gate? much like himeji castle, we were on a mission to tick off as many emojis as we could while in the motherland of the language, and the miyajiman shine was next on the list. the unesco world heritage site is one of those wonderfully annoying things that needs to be seen to be believed. i wasn't really sold on the idea of it until we were looking at it, and yeah. it's incredible. the gate itself is over 1400 years old, and is a national treasure - and the only one of its kind, in that it.. well, the bright orange wooden gate floats.

the shrine was designed and built over the water so it would appear that it was floating, separate from the supposedly sacred island, so that it could only be approach by the devout. i dunno. we saw people in high vis kayaking under it, so not sure the water element is keeping people away! we saw hoards of people, in actual fact - not all in kayaks, just in general, while we were there. all trying to get "that" shot. so yeah, it's most definitely a tourist attraction, but not a tacky one. a beautiful, spiritual, bright orange tourist attraction, with deer. i'm not sure what else you want me to say, to be honest.

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