Oh, deer!

The day after I visited the Peace Park, I took a train and a ferry to the island of Miyajima, which is famous for its “Floating Torii.” The large torii gate of a temple on Miyajima is set in the sand, so at high tide, it stands in the water. (At low tide, it stands on a bar of sand is distinctly less impressive. Be sure to check the tides if you want to go.)

 

I did not check the tides, and arrived earlier in mid-morning with hours to go until the mid-afternoon’s higher tides. After being greeted by some very curious and very not human-shy deer right at the port, I walked towards the sandbar Torii and realized my mistake. Some quick googling helped me find a handful of hiking trails around the island that lead up to its peak, and thinking that I had plenty of time to kill, I picked the longest trail which started in Omoto Park.

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The not-so-impressive Sandbar Torii. 

Omoto Park was the furthest park from the floating torii, out past the temple, a few other shrines, and the aquarium (I wasn’t sure how much small island’s aquarium had to offer, and I did not check it out…)

Thus I commenced the sweatiest hike I’ve probably ever been on. The weather in Miyajima was a balmy 80-90 with a loooooot of humidity, and I didn’t realize how little water I had on me (under half a liter) until I was too far up the hike of uneven stone stairs to stop. I sweated through everything I had on me in at least 20 minutes, and that was probably only .5km of the 3km to the top. About a third of the way up, I ran into a couple of Americans (also sweating profusely) and we shared a moment of mutual ugh.

“How much longer?” I asked. They looked at each other. “You have… a long way to go.”

Well, I thought, feeling like I’d just come out of one of the hot yoga session I go to with my aunts and uncles. I can’t possibly get any sweatier. (Turns out, I was wrong.)

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The view from the top. Worth it? … let’s not talk about it. 

I eventually made it, probably dehydrated and a little less than impressed by the peak’s foggy views. They also don’t sell water at the top, so I had to walk a bit more to get to the ropeway (which, why didn’t I take the ropeway up?) where I promptly bought and chugged a sports drink. I bought another bottle of water and drank that too.

On the hike back down, I saw an older woman with a Newport, RI bag! She and her friend were both Spanish, and though she had never been to Newport a family friend of hers had just got back from there (where they had gone to the folk festival.) Chatting with the women made the hike down feel quite a bit shorter, and I dried up a bit sweat-wise; by the time we got down there, the sandbar Torii was floating again and made the whole thing worth it.

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Behold! The Floating Torii, floating. 
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And the temple, also not safe from the water. 

I sat and appreciated the view and the salt water for a while, before going off to find lunch (Miyajima okonomiyaki, which is made with fried noodles and other deliciousness) and Miyajima’s strangely famous giant wooden spoon. Don’t ask, because I don’t understand it either…

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The world’s largest wooden rice scoop, for when you get really, really hungry. 

And finally…

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My sweaty, ambitious attempt at a selfie with a deer and the torii. I believe no selfie is complete without a group of bemused fellow tourists in the background.

 

Hiroshima

The memorials for the bombing of Hiroshima are just as spectacular as everyone who’s been say they are, even when the museum was a bit crowded and cramped due to renovations.

The A-Dome, the preserved structure whose dome-like roof somehow remained intact, standing almost alone among the ruin of Hiroshima, is right along the river that runs through the city’s center. It is a striking monument that also serves as a good point of reference for the walls-length panorama of Hiroshima before and after the bombing, as well as in the simulation videos that show the bomb’s path, its point of explosion, and the effects in it had on the city.

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The A-Dome 

Out of all the amazing things in the museum, which included a lot of interactive information about the decisions leading up to the bombing, the bombing itself, the effects of the radiation, and a great portion dedicated to promoting and emphasizing the importance of nuclear non-proliferation, the panoramas along the wall probably struck me the most. So much so I didn’t remember take a photo of them.

The first hall after getting to the second floor of the Peace Museum, where the exhibit starts, features a huge panorama of Hiroshima and what the city looked like before the atomic bombing. In the second room, taking up two large walls of a dark space that holds a circular table map of Hiroshima displaying a short simulation of the bombing on a loop (with smaller structures marking landmarks like the A-Dome), is a panorama of the city after the atomic bombing. A lot of the photos composing the wall picture come from the American military.

I thought these wall photos really gave a good impression of the amount of destruction caused by the atomic bomb. It wasn’t just a few buildings or neighborhoods that collapsed — a lot of Hiroshima contained more traditional, wooden Japanese buildings that were destroyed by firestorms created by the bomb. Aside from a few rare structures, like the A-Dome, which were built to withstand earthquakes, the city was leveled. I think we used the word “leveled” a lot, such that it loses its meaning (like awful, which used to mean awe-full, as in full of awe), but the huge photos on these walls really gave the impression of actual, literal, and awful leveling: an entire city leveled, reduced to nothing but rubble.

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A great memorial, and a not-so-great photo. There was always a line of people waiting to leave small tokens and bow their heads before this memorial, and everyone very good about being respectful, both of the memorial and of the others in line. 

Outside of the Peace Museum, there was another memorial that included an eternal flame where people lined up to make a small donation and a prayer. Another monument I found striking was the Children’s Peace Monument, which was built to commemorate a girl who died of leukemia due to radiation from the bomb, as well as the other child victims. It was a poignant reminder of the effects of the atomic bomb’s radioactive damage.

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The Children’s Peace Monument

Overall, despite the heat, I truly appreciated the museum, memorials, and monuments. It felt like a very respectful and powerful work dedicated to future peace.