After an impromptu breakfast at the hotel, we checked out and headed for Kyoto station on foot. Today we were headed for Hiroshima and then on to Miyajima. It was bullet trains from here to Hiroshima, so we got in line for reservations.
Up to this point we had been getting reservations about 10 minutes before we boarded with no problems. We asked the agent for passes and she said NO…our passes were not valid on the line. Further, she said that the other option, the Hikari line, (still a bullet train but arriving 30min later than we had planned) was sold out.
We exited the line in a bit of disbelief and leaned against the wall for a few minutes to regroup. If we couldn’t get on these routes, it would take up to 4 hours longer than we wanted.
The trains here, like a lot of places, have different classes of cars. Some cars are for reservation holders and others are first come first serve cars…you can get a seat, it’s just not guaranteed. On a hunch, we thought that perhaps there was a miscommunication (go figure) when we asked about the availability of non-reserved seats on the Hikari line. We went back to the counter and asked again about getting on the non-reserved cars, of there were any.
She explained (and we would later figure out how to tell this ourselves) that there were in fact 3 non-reserved cars on the Hikari train and, of course, we were free to get on those. We shuffled up the stairs (we have this move down pat…normally we each have a rolling suitcase and a backpack…Erin also has a hip bag with the train tickets in them and I carry the ever-expanding shopping bag of souvenirs…when we approach stairs we do a ritualistic dance where Erin turns her rolling bag sideways, turns to her left and takes the souvenir bag at which point I assume control of her rolling bag’ stop handle as I change the grip on my rolling bag so that I can carry both up and down stairs) to the Hikari platform and got in line to board the non-reserved car.
We were able to easily find seats and settle in for the 90 minutes bullet train to Hiroshima. Nice try trains, but we still win.
Once in Hiroshima, we stuffed most of our stuff into a coin locker and set out to see the Atomic Bomb Dome, Peace Park, and Museum. I was a little apprehensive about visiting here (though I don’t really know why) but I’m glad we did. It was a pretty heavy feeling standing on the infamous T-shaped bridge. The sites and especially the museum were tastefully and factually put together. All in all, it was definitely worth the 2 hour visit.
A little famished due to the hot day we went for some lunch in a building across from the train station. The 6th floor of the building was basically a Okonomoyaki food court, about 12 stands in all. We did one lap around the place (it felt like a brick and mortar food truck rally) trying to figure out what each one’s specialty was…it probably said clearly on all of the signs we couldn’t read…but we couldn’t, so we just sat down at one that had a guy eating at it already.
Apparently Osaka and Hiroshima have difference types of Okonomoyaki. Since we had it in Kyoto, I would have thought it would have been Osaka-style but maybe not because this meal was almost exactly like it. Perhaps one of those signs we couldn’t read said: “Featuring Osaka style”…whatever. The food was better here than at Yasube, even if the eggs they used had 2 yolks. Is that a thing? Yes, it apparently is.
We left Hiroshima in the late afternoon and caught a local train to Miyagimaguchi station. From here you take a ferry across the inland sea to the island of Miyajima (I think jima means island, so I may have just said the island of Miya island). Miyajima is famous for being the site of a large, self standing orange torii I gate that is partially submerged during high tide. If you’ve ever been to Japan in Epcot, you’ve seen a replica of the effect. The island is also dotted with many temples, but somewhat more interesting are the wild, yet completely tame, deer. They are everywhere from the moment that you get off the ferry and are mostly looking for handouts. If you acquiesce, they will follow you for quite a long time before giving up.
They are also apparently found of newspaper. As we exited the port station, we noticed a man sitting by himself reading the paper. It was held up to his face, dad style, so he did not notice the deer coming up right in front of him. In a flash the deer had put its mouth around the top edge of the paper and ripped the headlines (right?) out of the guys hands. In a flurry he stood up and tried to shoo the beast away, but seemed to only encourage the little guy because he continued to advance and take swipes at the newspaper. Before long the deer and the guy were in an all out tug of war and were starting to attract a lot of attention from the other 4 legged friends nearby. Finally the guy, seeing his position worsening, gave up.
We trudged up a muddy hill to get to our place, and eventually found it tucked back into the woods. It was a welcome site and we were both a little out of breath when we got there. We could have called them to pick us up but….well, but nothing we should have called.
It was about 6pm by this time and we had heard that most the restaurants on Miyajima close by 5. Thankfully we went grocery shopping in Hiroshima and were prepared with peanut butter, strawberry jam, 6 slices of thick cut bread, and some grapefruit juice boxes. There was tea in the room and they also gave us some really good maple cakes that are made on the island so we feasted.
We’d considered going back out but it was getting pretty dark so we just rented Jiro Dreams of Sushi in the room and watched it before going to sleep.