Fort Collins, it sure was an exciting weekend for me! Throughout my time here in Japan, I’ve been taking one-day trips to close-by cities like Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, but this weekend, I took my first multi-day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima.
The plan was to take the night bus from Osaka to Hiroshima (a 6-hour trip) Friday night, stay in a hostel Saturday night, go to Miyajima on Sunday, and then take the night bus back on Sunday. It was a perfect plan; the hostel was booked, the night bus didn’t sound too bad, and I was excited to get out of Osaka Prefecture. The trip was still lots of fun, but the plan was far from perfect.
To fully understand the hell I was in Friday night, you must understand that I have always been incapable of sleeping anywhere but a bed (and sometimes a couch). So, despite all the Benadryl in the world, I was not going to sleep on that night bus. Add to this the fact that the drivers constantly blast lights in your face and talk over the intercom at inconvenient times, and that the seats are seemingly designed to make you horribly uncomfortable – saying I was in Hell was an understatement.
Saturday night didn’t exactly go perfectly, either. Google Maps told us the hotel was a 40-minute train ride from Hiroshima, so we jumped on a train and ended up in a town that was obviously run by the yakuza (hookers and men in suits galore!). We walked into Fuji Business Hotel and soon realized that our reservation was at Fuji Hostel, which was two and a half hours in the other direction. Not only that, but the phone number was shut down and the place was not in Japanese phone books. Lovely.
We ended up spending the night in an “Internet cafe,” where mildly creepy people spend hours on end reading manga and surfing the Internet (we caught a few watching weird hentai porn). I don’t know why they have no home to go back to, but we welcomed the Internet cafe wholeheartedly. So, I spent the night sleeping in a computer chair. In the three-day weekend, I got only six hours of sleep. ‘Twas brutal.
However, the next day in Hiroshima reminded me that any problems I might’ve been having were nothing compared to what the Japanese went through during World War II. We went to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and I learned a lot about the bombings and the town before and after that life-defining moment. The museum was extremely sobering and really reminded me of the fragility of life and how one political decision can affect so many. We talked to a bomb survivor afterwards, and that was also quite enlightening.
Miyajima, an island off the coast of Hiroshima Prefecture, wasn’t as culturally enlightening, but it was beautiful. The island is most famous for its Itsukushima Shrine, featuring a torii gate “floating” in the ocean. It was quite cool, especially during sunset, but the highlight of the island was climbing to its highest peak (a 2-hour hike!) and looking out over Miyajima and the bordering towns and islands. Words cannot describe how amazing it was.
All in all, it was not a perfect weekend and it was often frustrating, but Hiroshima and Miyajima were both quite cool and I got a weekend full of history and culture.