As part of a long weekend stopover after a work trip to South Korea from New Zealand, I took the opportunity to explore Osaka and Hiroshima. I would not spend too much exploring Osaka, but was more interested in visiting and exploring the city best known as the first city to be targeted by a nuclear weapon on the 6th of August 1945. This would also provide me my first opportunity to ride (between Osaka and Hiroshima) the famous ‘Shinkansen’ – Japan’s bullet train!

It maybe best known for the horrific act, but Hiroshima is now a modern, cosmopolitan city, with wide boulevards, rivers and a bustling nightlife. I would meet a friend’s brother (who was in Japan teaching English) who was only too happy to meet up and see a familiar face! One of the first attractions we would visit was The Great Torii which is a large shrine built in the shallow waters of the Onoseto Strait and represents the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds.

Another of the sites you need to visit is the Peace Memorial Park which is the site of many moving monuments and the excellent Peace Memorial Museum which documents the atomic bomb and its aftermath. Located at the northern end of the park across an arm of the Ota River is the iconic Atomic Bomb Dome, which is the remains of the old Industrial Promotional Hall that was destroyed by the blast and has been left as part of the memorial. Only a short walk from the Atomic Bomb Dome is a small monument on the side of the street next to the Shima Hospital which is considered the ‘hypocenter’ (ground zero) for the atomic blast.

Another memory of Hiroshima I have is my first visit to a traditional Izakaya which is a type of informal Japanese gastropub where workmates may go for after work meals. While there we would befriend some of the very friendly locals who were dinning alongside us – the Japanese are certain very polite and friendly! I really enjoyed my time in Hiroshima and found it sobering and enlightening, I also just really enjoy spending time in Japan, it’s such an interesting culture, I hope I get to visit again and again!

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