After my mixed experience in Kyoto, I was curious how the next part of my holiday would work out: Spending a week travelling around Hiroshima (one of the best known places in Japan) and Shimane (ranked bottom in tourist popularity last year) with my girlfriend Jackie.
We started by visiting Miyajima, a small island near Hiroshima which contains a famous shrine, various Buddhist temples and a lot of semi-wild deer.
Getting to Miyajima from Tokyo took most of the day, so we stayed the night on the island, planning to do more exploring the next day. The island is mostly mountainous and uninhabited, so despite the uninspiring weather it was nice to walk in real bush again.
There are various temples on top of the mountain, but apparently I don’t have photos of those. We also tried oysters in batter (a local delicacy) and momiji-manjuu (snacks filled with flavoured cream, which can be eaten raw, baked or deep-fried).
Feeling we’d seen all that Miyajima had to offer, we headed back to the city for a sobering tour of the Peace Museum. It’s a lot more graphic and shocking than I expected, and made the nuclear disarmament stuff which a friend has been writing about over at Politics Personified seem a lot more real and a lot more important. We then had a spooky night walk through the Peace Park to look at the Atomic Bomb Dome.
I was surprised to find that Hiroshima still has a military base and training camp when we visited the adjoining museum. In a total contrast to the Peace Museum, it had all the standard things my inner child can’t help but love— model boats, bits of torpedo, cool science stuff and more. That’s not to say that it ignores the Pacific War, but it seems to give a rather different perspective on it.
So that was Hiroshima — city of peace and war. The next day we moved on to Shimane, a place I’d never heard of until Jackie recommended it. The main attraction is yet another shrine, apparently one of the oldest and largest in Japan, called Izumo-taisha.
Next, we moved on to the capital of Shimane prefecture, a city called Matsue. There isn’t a huge amount to do in Matsue, but that turned out to be a good thing since we both wanted some rest and relaxation by this stage! However, we found time to wander (well … time for Jackie to wander and me to be led) around various tourist attractions and historic sites.
We also visited the house of a famous author, who wrote (apparently) superb horror stories in Japanese despite being Greek by birth. His name, for those interested, was Lafcardio Hearn, although he’s better known by the Japanese name he assumed: Koizumi Yakumo. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos there …
Finally, on the day of our return to Tokyo, we traveled to a small town that’s one claim to fame is that it’s home to a famous manga artist. Jackie is a big fan of the man’s most famous series (GeGeGe no Kitaro), which centers around a supernatural boy who fights to protect humans from traditional Japanese monsters. Seeing the vast array of creatures placed around the town (and hearing the theme music over and over and over again through speakers placed all along the high street) did make me want to read it as well, although I suspect I’d be more interested in learning about the monsters than in the actual plot.
Finally, instead of weird things, this time I’ll give you the obligatory couple shot of us (taken at a craft gallery in Matsue).
That’s most of the holiday stuff done. I’ll probably do another compilation to try and get up to the present day (three weeks into term) but by then I guess a whole lot more things will have happened … Anyway, thanks for reading!