Hiroshima has a terrible past. I found a nice place to stay, explored the memorials and had time to write a letter back home.
This article is part of a diary based travelogue from a six month journey in 1985 to several countries in East and South East Asia: Japan, Taiwan, China, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Monday 21.1.1985, Kyoto – Hiroshima
Hiroshima is the next stop on my journey. I have naturally always heard of the city and when I’m here on these longitudes I will use the opportunity and pay it a visit.
Unfortunately train rides in Japan are expensive and the cheapest are local trains. I took one of those. To be true, it was really a local train. It seemed to me it kept stopping every kilometre; and was terribly boring. In Kyoto by the way, I boarded the wrong train, although in the right direction. It was a Shinkansen-train, one of these super fast trains the Japanese are so proud of. I followed that one down to the Osaka-Kobe area and was actually a slow train too. But the seats were comfortable.
In Hiroshima I found out that the Hiroshima Youth Hostel was the best place to stay, so I went up there. It is located a bit outside the city centre.
- HIROSHIMA YH: (082)221-5343. Cross the road in front of the railway station, walk 100 m to the left. Sign at bus stop. Ask for the way. The hostel is on a hill to the left of the exit point. Clean and OK, 1700 Yen.
Tuesday 22.1.1986, Hiroshima
Sightseeing in Hiroshima. The town has in my opinion not many sights, as everything is new of course. And new buildings etc. are not much worth seeing.
The only building left from before 6. August 1945 is not really a building but a rather rusty steel frame. It is called the A-bomb dome and stands as a telling memorial of what happened on this infamous August morning.
Right next to the dome they have built a park with concrete museums, not particularly pleasant. The interior of the museum consist of pictures, explanations and films. Even though I have seen it on TV at home is was infinitely more gripping to see it here, actually straight below were the bomb exploded.
It is really worth a pilgrimage I thought, just absorbing the atmosphere. (Which I believe is harmless today, 40 years later). Afterwards I sat down in the Peace Park in the mild weather and wrote a letter home.
Letter to my family
I hope everything is alright back home. Right now you are all asleep, while I’m sitting in the Hiroshima Peace Park writing this letter.
It is a brilliant day and a peaceful site. I have just walked around in the places that are worth seeing her in town. Amongst others I took photos of the only remaining building in town after the Blast in august 1945. A strange experience.
I was really only going to send a postcard this time as well, and rather write a longer letter about my stay in Japan after I had left. But now I just bought this air-mail letter and could not find any postcards, so that’s the way it is. I will rather limit myself to drawing the major lines of my stay here in the Land of the Rising Sun.
But first: I will travel by boat from Osaka to Naha on Okinawa. Okinawa is a Japanese group of islands halfway to Taiwan. The ship takes a couple of days so I figure on being in Naha by the weekend. The next weekend I will probably pop up in Taipei on Taiwan. You can send letters etc. there. Thanks.
My vacation here has been quite hectic: A lot of walking around and a lot of travelling. But there are so many great things to see here. I’m hoping my pictures will be good.
I was in Tokyo about a week. There I went around much of the time with a Dutch guy I met on the plane. He had been here before, giving me a softer transition I believe. Last Friday I hitchhiked alone from Tokyo to Kyoto. The old imperial city with its more than a 1000 temples moved me completely back to the days of the Shoguns and all that. The hitchhiking went very well; the Japanese are very helpful and nice even though language problems easily arise.
I came to Kyoto on Friday and went here to Hiroshima on a pilgrimage yesterday, Monday, by train. I will now continue (back) to Osaka/Kobe tomorrow, by way of the island of Shikoku.
I will probably not be able to visit any Norwegians here in Japan. Sorry about that, father. I only have time to travel around as quickly as possible to the cities and places I prefer the most. Time is short and Japan is a very expensive country. The reason I go to Taiwan (and then Hong Kong) is that the plane ticket from Tokyo was too expensive. But that one will have to expect on a trip like this.
Well, this will be enough for this time. I will write more extensively later. Many hugs and greetings from the world traveller…
Next letter: Hong Kong