I landed in Osaka around 6pm and jetted off on the Shinkansen to Hiroshima the next day. The night before I had to activate my JR pass – (I suggest you calculate whether buying a return ticket to the airport would be easier otherwise expect to for out 2360 yen for a express train from Shin Osaka to Kansai).
To activate the JR pass , head towards the train station and the ticket station will be on your left. Go up to the second level if you’re an English/Chinese speaker.
It’s a pretty quick process- they will give you your JR pass as well as a ‘reserved ticket’ in return. Make sure to activate and get your JR pass stamped by the station masters on the side. From then on, if you’re taking a JR line, you will just need to show the station master your JR. If you’re staying near Subways , I highly suggest the ICOCA card (a tap and go card) You can use it in selected stores in Japan such as 7- 11, Lawson etc.
I also suggest to reserve seats on the Shinkansen (bullet train) if you’re in a large group but since I was travelling by myself most of the time, it was pretty easy to find a seat in the non reserved carriages. That said, make sure to pay attention to which carriages are reserved and non-reserved.
Day 1 Hiroshima:
Where to stay: Hiroshima K’s House Backpackers
What to buy: Hiroshima’s Maple Leaf Cakes, Kunagi Waffle sandwiches, Oysters at Miyajima
What to do:
I arrived at Hiroshima around 10:30am and after 10 minutes of walking, checked in at K’s Backpackers. Check in time isn’t til 3pm but they will store your luggage so it is super convenient.
Miyajima is a famous island in Hiroshima, consisting of several parks, shrines and the world heritage listed mountain Mt. Misen. The Torii gate is perhaps one of the most iconic places and it is located through the Itsukushima shrine. I highly recommend walking through the red shrine – it’s absolutely gorgeous and you get fabulous views of the gate. There are a couple of parks and shrines you could pick out – there are English maps available at the entrance so be sure to take one as they give quite detailed descriptions on each site. The ferry to Miyajima is also covered by the JR pass so you don’t need to fret about buying a ticket !
If you want to see Torii gate at high tide, I suggest looking up the times as it is quite beautiful when submerged in water – as with the shrine. But it is also quite a delight when it is low tide and you’re able to observe the gate up close.
I decided to do the hike up Mt Misen which indeed took 2 hrs. Be prepared though. Have lots of water with you and make sure you can strip your layers down. I had 4..ended up with 1 by the end of the hike. If you’re too tired, you can always catch the cable car back down after the hike. Though I must say the view from the top of the mountain was extraordinary.
By the time I got back down the main island – it was about 5pm so I headed to the shopping street to try their famous oysters.
I am generally not a big oyster fan but these were not as fishy tasting and the pickles definitely helped breaking up the flavours.
It is a tourist heavy place so you won’t struggle with asking for directions and all that if you need it!
Luckily, I made it in time for the sunset over the Torii Gate which was one of the highlights of the trip. Hopefully you’ll have enough time to catch it too!
After jetting back to the main island , I headed to Hondori shopping district to grab some dinner (super cheap and delicious as well)- check out the winter lights if you can!
Day 2: If you’re heading to Hiroshima, it is only reasonable to go visit the Hiroshima Peace Museum, insightful and heartbreaking. It is a must do. Don’t forget to walk around the park – despite the amount of memorials and shrines laid about, it is a beautiful place. The other side of the museum is the children’s memorial so visit that too!
Of course, after such a depressing visit, the only way to cheer ourselves up was to go have Okonomiyaki. This is basically a Japanese ‘pancake’ filled with lots of ingredients i.e. cabbage, udon, bacon, egg, etc. and is famous in the Kansai region. Hiroshima however, has a building called “Okonomi-mura’ where there is 2 floors dedicated to okonomiyaki. Pick a floor, pick a store and you’re ready to go!
It’s also massive.
That was pretty much the end of Hiroshima. Wish I could’ve stayed longer!
Til next time!