Discovering Hiroshima Castle aka Carp Castle or Rijo Castle

From the brochure of the castle, I got to learned that the castle is also know with a different name. Hirsohima Castle is also famous as Carp Castle or Rijo Castle in Japanese. The area where the castle was built known to be Koi-no-ura (Koi Sea Shore) and “Koi” means Carp in Japanese. Good to know the origin of the castle name.

After strolling around Peace Memorial Park, we targeted other parts of the downtown but because most of the places to see are museums which require more time, we ended ourselves exploring the Hiroshima Castle. Before reaching the castle we passed Hiroshima Museum of Art. Then we crossed the underground walkway to the castle.

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And not far from the street where we emerge from the underground walkway, we saw the Second Compound or Ninomaru of the castle where the Main Gate and surrounded Turrets are located. We walked towards the said gate. Before we crossed the Gate Bridge to the Main Gate, we stopped for few photo shots moment.

Ninomaru (Second Compound)

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Bridge Gate, Main Gate and Turrets (Yagura)

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Moats that surrounds the castle from the Gate Bridge

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Omotegomon (Main Gate)

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Hira-Yagura (One-Layer Turret)

We crossed the bridge and entered the Main Gate. We walked a bit towards the middle of the compound and I looked around and observed. I saw a door located at the corner, part of Hall Turret (Tamon-Yagura) and I walked and climbed towards it. My family followed me and we took off our shoes then put it on the shoe cabinet available near the door. Next, we stroll the Hall Turret and there we saw different exhibits. At the end of Hall Turret is Taiko-Yagura (Two-layer Turret) where the drum at the second part and used before for Samurai sally out.

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Main Entrance and Hira-Yagura (One Story Turret) captured from inside of Ninomaru

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One of the drums at Taiko-Yagura (Two-Layer Turret) used for signals

After looking around at Taiko-Yagura and Tamon-Yagura, we walked back and reached inside the Hira-Yagura and the top of the main gate.

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Inside the Ninomaru Omote Gate  (the top layer of Main Gate)

 

Inside Hira-Yagura (One-layer Turret)

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Ruins of Ninomaru (basepoint to defend the gateway of the castle)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery after crossing the walkway towards Main Compound (Honmaru)

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Moats that surrounds the Castle. Scenery while leaving the castle ground

Honmaru (Main Compound)

When we reached the Main Compound of the castle, the first thing we saw was Hiroshima Gokoku Jinja Shrine where we saw another stone gate similar to what we saw in Miyajima Island. The original shrine has already built in two locations, the shrine was also destroyed by atomic bomb. When the decided to rebuild it, it was rebuilt after the war within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. As per history, the purpose of building the shrine is to mourn the Hiroshima-Han victims during the Boshin War (Japanese Civil War).

 

 

Photos of Hiroshima Gokoku Jina Shrine

We moved forward nearing the castle tower, but before we reach the tower itself, we have other stuff that we saw within the ground of Hiroshima Castle. We found the location of ruins of Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters. After reading the brochures in my hand, I’ve got to understand, why Hiroshima was possibly the main target of atomic bomb attack, its because of the castle ground was a military base. And I also learned that the base was also use to infiltrate the plan of Allied forces during World War II, in a war like that, a military base can be a main target for attack.

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Hiroshima Imperial Military Headquarters Ruins

At the ground, we also  found a castle ground map that looks like inscribe in a metal piece and put in a stone.

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Hiroshima Castle ground map

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The original foundation stones where the Castle Tower was built

As we walked towards the castle, I got more excited, I knew it was not the original tower, because like other buildings in Hiroshima City, it was also destroyed during the atomic bomb attack. The castle location is in the corner most of the ground and in an upper layer that we need to climb few steps of the stairs. The restored castle tower shows what its look before the second world war, thus we enjoyed the photos outside before we decided to enter the tower. The castle tower now served as museum before the war. We paid the entrance fee and ready to explore the building. At first, I never realized how many floors the castle has and when we were strolling around it, I just learned that it has 5 floors. All floors has exhibits and I cannot really take photos because there’s portion of the exhibit not allowed to take shots. But as far as I remembered, I still sneaked some shots inside the museum thought it was not too many unlike other museums where photography is allowed.

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Castle Tower (now a museum)

Each floor showcases different exhibits that portrays Hiroshima. At the first floor, there’s displays about Ancient Hiroshima, Castle History, its government, life inside the castle, its defense and even different castles in the world can be seen. At the second floor, the exhibits are more of castle town life and culture where it includes samurai versus townsfolk lifestyle. In the third floor, we saw different weapons and armors displays. The fourth floor currently displayed that time has a theme of life and progress of  Hiroshima Castle Town.

 

Some Exhibits displayed inside Hiroshima Castle Tower

We reached the final floor or fifth floor which called as Observation Platform. We stayed a bit in the floor because it offers a scenic views that surround the castle in many ways. Because the castle ground surrounded by trees and green plants and moats, I can sense how Japanese has great pride in their castle. Aside from having yagura or turrets that protects the castle grounds, there is moats that prevents the invaders to reach the castle  easily. If you are a strategist, it is a great place as well for military bases. And that’s what happened to Hiroshima Castle.

 

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Scenic snapshots that surrounds the castle ground and the moats from Castle Tower Observation Deck

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Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park – A Walk to Remember

Peace Memorial Park was built and dedicated not only to the victims of the nuclear bomb, not only to remember that Hiroshima was the first city to suffer the nuclear attack but to continue advocating the world peace.

Atomic Bomb Dome is part of Peace Memorial Park but I separated the rest of the Memorial Park as I wanted to emphasize the dome itself. From Atomic Bomb Dome, our walks continued within Peace Memorial Park. Before reaching the center of Peace Memorial Park, we found a tower called Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students and their we learned that more than 6000 students died at the day of the bombing. When I read that, it was a heart breaking information that I learned during our walking tour.

Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students (Cenotaph for Mobilized Students)

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At the center where the Cenotaph for Mobilized Students stands

We crossed Motoyasu-bashi Bridge and there we found tourist center which they also called as ‘Rest House’. We rested a bit inside the ‘Rest House’ and I bought post cards as my souvenirs.

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Motoyasu-gawa River joining Honkawa River as Ota River and Aioi-bashi Bridge

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Motoyasu-bashi Bridge North View

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Motoyasu-gawa River South View near from A-Dome

 

Motoyasu-bashi Bridge South View

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Motoyasu-bashi Bridge Road

We moved on and continued to explore the park. Next thing we saw were Flame of Peace, Memorial Cenotaph and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

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Flame of Peace, Memorial Cenotaph and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Flame of Peace

Like Rekaido Hall (Eterna Fire Hall) in Mount Misen in Miyajima Island, which I discovered that the fire never burned out, this Flame of Peace is the same, which first lit up last August 1st, 1964. It’s been light-up until our time. There’s a quote saying “Let’s keep burning the fire until nuclear weapon is eliminated from the entire earth” (source: visithiroshima.net) which really signifies that it represents the fight for peace.

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Memorial Cenotaph

The Cenotaph was built in memories and honor of remains are in another location. The shape symbolizes the thoughts of sheltering the souls that died in the atomic bomb or to protect them from raining. For many things what it means, the Cenotaph symbolizes of people whom died in human hands that we hope not to happen again. There’s a message engrave in the stone in the middle telling us “”Rest in Peace, for the error shall not be repeated” (source: visithiroshima.net).

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The building said to house a lot of archives and memories that showcase all about the even happened that day. We were not able to visit the building, just saw it from the outside as we have very limited time to spend in the city.

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Children’s Peace Monument

There was one little girl named Sadako Sasaki who was died after the atomic bomb, when the nuclear attack happened in the city, she was just a 2 years old baby and she died at 12 years old. The child reminded us the terror effect of the nuclear bomb. Because of her story, the statue built in her memories and other children who suffered the same fate with her.

Peace Bell

The bell was built with the aim of true peace in Earth without nuclear weapons. The sound of this bell aims to be heard in every corner of the world and to reach every heart of human being. It was also noted that it’s sound was selected as one of “Japan’s best 100 sounds”.

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Statue of a Prayer for Peace

This statue built in hopes of making the victims of nuclear attack lives forever and for hoping for lasting peace in human race.

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While I am writing this post, I cannot deny the sadness that I felt, there were times that I was pondering and thinking, why there such events happened in our beautiful work such like this. I knew that this kind of human tragedy is not alone because there were tons of records in history listed all unimaginable things did by human to human,but people itself does not lose hope for peace.

A Bomb Dome – Symbol of ‘Peace City’ – Hiroshima City

Hiroshima City was the place where first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. Based on history, the building was blown-up as well because its location is not far from hypo-center (where the bomb was dropped and exploded up in the air). The building was formerly used as Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall and now representing people’s prayers for a lasting peace (reference information – visithiroshima.net)

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Atomic Bomb Dome

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Atomic Bomb Dome and Motoyasu-gawa River

There were two loops available for Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus or “Hiroshima meipuru~pu” where the bus terminal can be found near Hiroshima Station at Shinkansen Entrance. First loop is Orange where it is called as “via Peace Memorial Park and Art Gallery” and the second loop is Green and it is called as Peace Memorial Park and Okonimi-mura”. We started our adventure in the city and we took the Orange loop.  We got off A-Bomb Dome bus stop. From the bus stop, it’s just few walks away. When we saw the building, we saw a lot of tourist a like and they surrounded the building. Because of too many tourist, we took our time with the dome as we wanted a bit of exclusivity of the building, we waited until most of them were gone.

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Atomic Bomb Dome (Part 1)

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Atomic Bomb Dome (Part 2)

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Atomic Bomb Dome (Part 2)

Atomic Bomb Dome and Motoyasu-gawa River

While looking at the building, I can’t stop thinking at that time when the atomic bomb had been dropped in the city and how cruel it can be specially for the innocent people whom died in vain during that time. I knew it is somewhat a sensitive topic to discuss because people divided on its belief whether what happened was wrong or right, there are lots of topics that will arise of righteousness of the decision made to do it. When the Second World War broke last 1939, it was not only one country suffered, there were lots and my home country was not alone to suffer. It was a hurtful thing to think about and even to remember but there was a human hope that this kind of history will not repeat again. As I watching the building in different angles, whenever I look at it, I hope that human will always remember that living in peace are more important than other things. I will not condemn anyone but I hope that we learned our lessons on the history and make our world more livable. I admired Japanese because the world thought that this area of Hiroshima will be gone and will not be livable but after 70 years that had been passed the city and its outskirt proven that a city can be a reborn again and that what’s the impression that left in my memory after visiting the said city.

 

Hiroshima – A Reborn City and A ‘Peace City’

I can say that people who got a chance to study world history definitely knows the place named Hiroshima. Every time I encountered the name, two things that comes into my mind: first was World War II and second was the atomic bomb that dropped in the city. The world was rocked when US and its allied forces decided to drop the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when Japan ignores the calls of Allied forces to surrender. As the Second World War reaches its final stages, the atomic bomb triggered the end of Japan emperialism.

I knew that the there’s always debate about the atomic bomb whether at that time it was right or not. While visiting Hiroshima, I read some historical archives that Japanese regrets what’s happened in Hiroshima but they also accepted or acknowledged that their government was also responsible for what had been happened because they recognized the impact that the decisions they made at that time. This is one of the character that I admired in Japan. I remembered that integrity is a key character that Japanese really cares for. That is why when they knew they made mistakes, they took responsibility by taking their lives just to preserve their honor and integrity (Harakiri).

When we got a chance to visit Hiroshima, I was curious what the city looks like after seven decades that had been passed after the atomic bomb was dropped in the city and its surrounding areas.

We spent an overnight in our hotel in Hiroshima downtown. In the morning we prepared early and we packed our stuff back again to our luggages and left it in the hotel and we picked it up again before took train to Kyoto.

Because we have few hours left in the city before our train schedule to Kyoto in the afternoon. We grabbed our chance to see a bit of Hiroshima. From morning until early afternoon, a city famous of its historical structures and ruins left by World War II and destructive atomic bomb that still standing as of today and to continue exploring the downtown by combining the city bus tour and walking tour.

From the hotel, we went to Hiroshima Station where the bus tour – Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus (Hiroshima Meipuru~pu) in the city starts. There are two routes available to tour around the downtown of Hiroshima. The first route is Orange Route – Peace Memorial Park and Art Gallery and the second route is Green Route – Peace Memorial Park and Okonomi-mura. We got a chance to take both routes but we haven’t completed the overall route because of limited time we had. When we got the Japan Rail Pass, the Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus is included, that was why when we were in Hiroshima, we used the pass to get the bus tour.

The following places we had a chance to see in the city were:

1. A-Bomb Dome

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2. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

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3. Hiroshima Castle

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A Bit of Hatsukaichi

This post is a mixture of other things that we saw in the island aside from O-Torii, Itsukushima Shrine and Mount Misen and some part of Hatsukaichi. It’s a combination of other interesting areas that we saw and discovered while walking around the Hatsukaichi.

Gojunoto (5 Storied Pagoda)

After spending time watching or looking with O-Torii, we decided to move forward to see more of the island. We followed the direction in the map that we had so we can reach the summit of Mount Misen. Along the way we saw Gojunoto or 5 Storied and colorful Pagoda. While checking information about this pagoda that stands out in the island from Miyajima’s official website (http://visit-miyajima-japan.com/), the structure said to able to resists horizontal oscillation caused by earthquakes and typhoons. And because of that, this kind of structure is really amazing because with the way it was built it will last a long time.

 

 

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Gujonoto (5 Storied Pagoda)

Treasure Hall

Even though we haven’t got a chance to get inside this hall because of time (descended the mountain around 5PM), most tourist attractions were close and only can be seen from outside. I just learned that this Treasure Hall keeps thousand valuables and cultural items which mostly came from Heike Clan. According to history, Heike (Taira) Clan adapted a son name Taira Na Koyimori whom got rid of the pirates in Seto Inland Sea (where Miyajima is located), whom established the first samurai-based government in Japan and whom also built mighty Taira Clan. We got a chance to see this hall after descending Mount Misen on our way to Itsukushima Shrine.

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Taira No Kiyomori Statue

This is the statue of Taira No Kiyomori status which displayed not far from Miyajima Port. As I mentioned above, Taira No Kiyomori was a significant historical figure in Japan whom at first became a governor of Aki (One part of the old region of Hiroshima) Province and became a Prime Minister in Japan.

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Daiganji Temple

Niomon Gate

At the time that we saw Niomon Gate for Daiganji Temple, a portion of the Daiganji temple is under maintenance. The temple is said to be Koyosan Branch of the Shingon denomination of Buddhism.

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Niomon Gate (front) and Daiganji Temple (rightmost at the back of Niomon Gate)

Gomado Hall

Another part of Daiganji Temple is Gomado Hall, where on its front the Fire Walking Ritual happens every year but during our visit, it wasn’t the season of festival. But still good to know.

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Ishidorii (Stone Torii)

A torii made of stone where you can see Otorii (Grand Gate) from a far. I can sense that this Torii is somewhat an introduction and letting people know that you are in the right direction to see O-Torii.

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Omotesando Shopping Arcade

We had a chance to walk a bit in Omotesando Street but unfortunately because it’s dawn, most of the local shops were already closed. With those few shots of the street, the old local town ambiance in the island is still notable.

 

UNESCO – The Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

A mark of UNESCO and an information that a World Heritage Site exist in the island, The Itsukushima Shinto Shrine.

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Miyajima Port

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On the way to Miyajima Port

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Around Miyajima Port

Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima

On our way back to Hiroshima from the island, the snapshot of City of Hatsukaichi below was captured.

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Miyajimaguchi Pier

 

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JR Miyajimaguchi Station

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Mount Misen – A Bit of Trek to Miyajima Island’s Sacred Mountain

Instead of exploring first the Itsukushima Shrine, I decided to visit the Mount Misen because it seems that we need to spend more time in the mountain than in the shrine as I am expecting that there some part of the mountain that we may need to trek or climb. From the viewing area of O-Torii which just below or near Toyokuni Shrine, we followed the pathway to Momijidani Station wherein we passed the 5 Storied Pagoda, Itsukushima Shrine, office of Itsukushimi Shrine and a small town nearby. In Momijidani Station, there is a regular mini-bus available that pick-ups the visitors of Mount Misen. The bus will dropped all the passengers at Momidijani Park Entrance where the Momijidani Ropeway Station is just near. The mini bus is a regular service back and forth between stations. When I was looking at the map of Miyajima, I just realized that the park within the mountain seems a great place to discover as well but due to limited time we have, I snapped out the idea and focus on reaching the top or summit of the mountain.

While waiting for the bus, one of the local store owners approached us and showed us that we can buy ticket in their store and it seems the person is legitimate, we bought the ticket for our Mount Misen adventure in their store and other people does as well. The bus arrived and the good thing about it, all the four of us able to hopped on the bus from the queue we lined-up. It’s not really a long distance travel but because the area is already part of the mountain, the walk or let’s say the trek will not be an easy. We reached the bus stop and we walked-up a bit to Momijidani Ropeway Station. At the station, there is an office that you can also buy the tickets, since we already bought ours, we went straight to the stairs up to where the cable car is.

 

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There are two types of cable car that we rode up to the Shishiiwa Station. First was a Gondola lift and second was Aerial Tramway. In Gondola lift, only the four of us got in which means we have exclusivity in the ride and we enjoyed our flightseeing up to the  to of the mountain. When we reached the middle station or Kayatani Station, we transferred to another lift and we took the aerial tramway where it fits more people. We are the last group to get in the tram and that means we do not have great position to take photo during flightseeing but our eyes enjoyed the scenery on our way to Shishiiwa Station.

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Shishiiwa Station Observatory Hall

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Shishiiwa Station Observatory Hall (captured after descending the summit)

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Shishiiwa Observatory

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Mount Misen Map

We reached Shishiiwa Station where there is great observatory nearby. We spent time taking photos in the observatory and of course we took time to enjoy the sceneries. We found a map that Shishiiwa Station was not yet the summit of the mountain. I talked to my family and asked everyone who wants to see more of the mountain. Three of us agreed to come to the top and my mother decided to stay in Shishiiwa, she just stayed inside the station.

 

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Sceneries at Shishiiwa Observatory (Part 1)

 

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Sceneries at Shishiiwa Observatory (Part 2)

 

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Sceneries at Shishiiwa Observatory (Part 3)

 

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Sceneries at Shishiiwa Observatory (Part 4)

Our adventure continues in the mountain together with my sister and my father. We followed the track and the stairs to the summit. We reached the first place where we can rest and from the map it was the place where the following halls stands: Akaido Hall, Misenhondo Hall and Rekaido Hall (Eternal Fire Hall). With regards to Rekaido Hall or Eternal Fire Hall and sometimes called as Eternal Flame Hall is believed that the fire exist with more than 1200 years, if that was really true then its an amazing facts about the hall. My sister got tired and I decided to go up all the way to the summit. I thought that I am the only one who want to go up to the summit until I saw my father  following me. Along the way, we saw another halls in the mountain: Sankido Hall, Kanondo Hall and Munjudo Hall. I thought the trek will never end until I just arrived in the summit of the mountain where Mount Misen Observatory located.

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Captured on the way before reaching Eternal Fire Hall area

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Misenhondo Hall

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Reikado Hall (Eternal Fire Hall)

 

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Sankido Hall

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Kannondo Hall and Munjudo Hall

 

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Scenery near Kannondo Hall and Munjudo Hall

At the summit we enjoyed the beautiful sceneries that surrounds the island. My father and I took photos of each other together with sceneries as our souvenir in the summit. After sometime we both decided to descend the summit since the time announcement that the last trip of the aerial tramway is up to 5PM in the afternoon. If we will missed it, it means that we will trek the mountain with our own legs and I was not sure if my family will be able to do that. When we descended the mountain, we used the same trail though based on the map there was another trail to go down the mountain and we never took that as we need to meet my mother back to Shishiiwa Station and we have to take the same lift we had when going up the mountain to go down too.

 

Fudo-iwa (Acala Rock)

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Kuguri-iwa (Duck under rock)

 

 

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At Mount Misen Summit Sceneries

 

At Mount Misen Summit

 

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Mount Misen Observatory

We took the aerial tram and gondola lift from Shishiiwa Station to Kayatani Station and gondola lift again to Momijidani Station. We waited for the bus and go back to the bus stop where we started earlier our trip to the top of the mountain.

 

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On our way to the ground

We passed few local stores and the office of Itsukushima Shrine. After mountain adventure, next stop was the World Heritage Site – Itsukushima Shrine.

Itsukushima Shrine – The Famous Floating Shrine

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Itsukushima Shrine on our way to Mount Misen

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Sori-bashi (Arched Bridge)

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Tenjin Shrine

We descended Mount Misen past 5PM in the afternoon. Before we reach the Exit of the shrine, we had seen some part of the shrine from the outside such as Sori-bashi or Arched Bridge and Tenjin Shrine. We started the exploration of Itsukushima Shrine from the Exit. We do not entered the shrine in a normal way. At the exit or what they called West Corridor, there was a sign that it was an exit and no entry and we broke that instructions. Because we were nearer in Exit than in the Entrance of the shrine, I decided to enter the shrine using the exit walkway. I just decided to pay our ticket once we reached the entrance. I knew that it was wrong and I admitted that as an honestly mistake.

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West Corridor

While walking along the corridor of the shrine and seeing around the place, I can say that it is interesting to have such structure with lively colors similar to O-Torii and also stands in the sea. The shrine was registered as World Heritage site few years after the Second World War and it was mentioned based on their history that the main shrine was built around 6th century. Looking in a such place that stands by time, natural weather changes and even calamities such as typhoons and earth quakes amazed me how great such structure to stand a long time. Of course I understand that it is being maintained but to last it until our time for me is wonderful. The shrine is a Buddhist shrine and they may believe that it is because of divine intervention, the other people may believe because of the science behind how the shrine was built, whatever the reason is, I myself wish that this kind of structure stands longer so that the next generation will still witness the historical building still standing in the sea.

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Nishi Kairo (West Corridor)

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Noh Stage

 

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Nishi-Kairo (West Corridor)

We followed the corridor and continued our walk. Along the way, we saw the stone lanterns which sometimes dismantled and placed in corridor so that during high tide, it prevent to raise the floor due to the sea. Next we saw were Noh Stage, Taka-Butai and Marodo Shrine. We reached the open stage or Hira-Butai where we enjoyed viewing O-Torii and the sea, we stopped there a bit to take photos of the beautiful scenery that surrounds the shrine.

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Taka-Butai

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Marodo Shrine

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To Higashi-Kairo (East Corridor)

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One of the stone water basin we found

From the open stage or Hira-Butai, we walked back to the corridor until we found the main shrine which called Honden located at the center of the shrine just straight from Taka-Butai. We spent time to looked and observed what’s inside the main shrine and I took some photos of it. From Honden, we walked again in a corridor called Higashi Kairo (East Corridor) until we passed the Marodo Shrine. Then, we found another stone water basin where we tried to drink the fresh water on it. We reached the entrance and we paid our tickets for the shrine.

 

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Main Shrine (Honden)

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Lantern we found near the Main Shrine and Walkway (to Higashi Kairo – East Corridor)

 

Higashi Kairo – East Corridor

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The Entrance

 

O-Torii – A Boundary Between the Spirits and the Human Worlds

As I mentioned from my previous post entitled “Miyajima Island – Island of Gods” that introduced a bit of Miyajima Island, on the way to the island while we were in the ferry, I had a chance to see O-Torii during high tide. And I was amazed of what I witnessed because the sceneries were all picturesque for me.

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O-Torii while in the JR Ferry

From the local restaurant that we had lunch we walked along the pathway near the shore where some local stores are available on the left side and on the right side the O-Torii was already visible from a far.

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O-Torii (Grand Gate) is a symbol of Miyajima Island and the belief that surrounds it is that Great Torii is the boundary between the spirits and human worlds (reference: visit-miyajima-japan.com). Learning that facts is one of the interesting  information I got for the said island and it was a way to understand a bit why the island seems to be sacred to Japanese.

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O-Torii

When we were closer with O-Torii, the water subsided a bit compared to the high tide that I saw while in the ferry. Seeing such structure on the inland of the sea was pretty amazing but to learn more that it stands on its weight was more mind-blowing. Because of that fact, natural calamities that passed by in Japan did not affect the Grand Gate and as we can see, it still magnificently stands to where it is.

After few hours in Mount Misen, we descended the mountain the same way we reached the summit which includes trekking, riding a cable car and taking a bus.

When we reached the ground, we explored the Itsukushima Shrine.

O-Torii and the surrounding area (water subsided)

After the exploration to the sacred shrine of Itsukushima, my sister and I walked down to the O-Torii since the land was dry from sea water due to low tide. We had a chance to approach the Grand Gate and we had lots of photos of it.

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Up close and personal with O-Torii

Precious Moment In The Mountain : Mount Misen

Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#24) : Mount Misen

While roaming around in Japan, one of the mountain that we had a chance to visit and even had a chance to trek a bit was Mount Misen. Mount Misen is considered as sacred mountain in Miyajima Island (Itsukushima Island). We enjoyed the scenery while we were on our way to the top through gondola and tram lift. And more when I reached the summit of the mountain. The photo above shows some of the islands that are visible from the mountain. Photo snapshot captured last September 2015.

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Miyajima (Itsukushima) Island – “Island of Gods”

After we decided to visit Miyajima Island that day, we walked back to Hiroshima Station from the hotel to take JR Sanyo Line. We used our JR Pass when we took the train and we got off at Miyajimaguchi Station. From the station we walked a little bit and we took JR ferry (other ferry available is Matsudai Kisen) using our JR Pass. The said ferry brought us from Miyajima Guchi to Miyajima Island. The travel time to the island was around 10-15 minutes.

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Onboarding JR Ferry

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Looking towards Hiroshima City while on our way to Miyajima Island

On the way to the island, I felt fascinated with the torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine, while in the ferry I was able to see the gate with high tide that makes the gate so wonderful. When we reached the pier of the island, first thing we did was having lunch in one of the local restaurant in the island not far from the pier which has old township design. Inside the restaurants settings was Japanese traditional home style from its table, flooring, seats and its overall interior has all Japanese ambiance.

Miyajima Pier (Miyajima Port)

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Local Restaurant we had our lunch

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Different variety of Okonomiyaki

When I did my research about Hiroshima, I found that there is famous menu not to be missed while visiting Hiroshima and I learned that is called Okonomiyaki. In the restaurant that we had lunch in the island we ordered variety of Okonomiyaki. I can’t remember the specifics and because my family was not really a food adventurer, I decided to take 3 orders for the 4 of us which was enough as they serve it full in big plates they used. And to be honest, we enjoyed the food. My whole family seems to be satisfied specially my mother whom somewhat picky and does not like to try unfamiliar menus in the table. We’ve got full and enjoyed the restaurant for a while.

After the lunch we started our exploration to the island. I am curious why the island is special and why it was considered to be one of the Best Views or Top Scenic Spots in Japan.

The following significant interests that we discovered while roaming around the island are:

O-Torii (Grand Gate)

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Itsukushima Shrine

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Mount Misen

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Miyajima’s Temples / Halls

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I will post separate articles of the things we saw and experienced on these significant places.

Until then.

 

Hiroshima – An Introduction To The Home of Two World Heritage Sites

Because Hiroshima is very far from Tokyo, I booked a domestic flight in ANA Airlines, where I found the cheapest price available at the time that I was booking the flight because I was able to maximize their offer price for foreign visitors.

After watching Sumo event and after spending time in Akihabara, when we reached the hotel, we immediately packed all our stuff back to our luggage since that night was the same as our last night in the hotel. We woke-up early in the morning as our flight was around 7AM and our airport was Haneda Airport, which is another airport located nearer in Tokyo compared to Narita Airport, the entry point we had in Japan.

From Kayabacho Station, we took Tozai Line to Nakano, transferred at Nihombashi, changed to Ginza Line to reach Shimbashi Station. At first we planned to take Monorail Line which mean we plan to go to Hammamutso station. When we were waiting at Shimbashi Station for the next train, we found out that the next train goes directly to Haneda Airport, I asked one officer in the train to confirm if the next train goes to Haneda Airport, and he confirmed it. We took the said train. When we were inside the train, my sister and I checked the next station that the train will stop by and we quite surprised because it seems it has too many stations on its route. Then, my sister and I keep monitoring the next train stop and we were thankful because it bypassed many stations, as time really matters for us in that situation because we were catching up with our flight schedule.

When we reached Haneda Airport it’s just right time, we’re not too early nor too late. The flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima took at least an hour and that flight actually saved us a bit of time. We touched down at Hiroshima Airport passed 8:20 AM in the morning and got off the plane passed 8:30 AM. Because we’re new, we did not realize that the bus schedule to Hiroshima Station is closer to our arrival schedule, therefore we were left behind even before we can buy our bus ticket (which can be get through automated machine) and we waited for the next schedule which was after an hour. When the next bus arrived, we boarded the bus immediately. The airport does not have train station and the only way to go to Hiroshima Station is through bus. The bus travel from the airport was around 45 minutes to reach Hiroshima.

At Hiroshima station, since it’s our first time again in another city of Japan, we really don’t know where to go to reach our hotel in the city. That problem was forgotten a bit after I saw the JR Train Line office at the station. I booked our ticket train from Hiroshima to Kyoto to reserved our seats the next day we travel. We scheduled to spend almost 2 days to go around in Hiroshima.

After booking the train ticket, we got off at the station and followed few people as we thought they were exiting the station. We ended up leaving the station in a wrong way. We passed the station docking area and underground way since we still did not realize where majority people goes when passing the station. We learned the right way later that day.

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River View from our Room

Even we used the wrong way in getting off the station, we were still able to find the way to our hotel. We did not take a cab as I booked a hotel just near Hiroshima Station. We reached the road Johoku Dori and turned left and then we crossed the bridge. After crossing the bridge, the hotel accommodation were after comes next. We stayed at Hotel Century21 Hiroshima located at Hijiyama Dori. In that hotel, we got a room with tatami room and river view. I really like the room that was assigned to us by the hotel.

The only plan that I had in mind initially in Hiroshima is to walk around in downtown to see the city and its historical places. I checked some brochures that I picked-up from the airport so I can plan and add more to the basic itinerary that I had.  My sister and I talked about what we’re going to do for the day while we were in the hotel. I had Miyajima in mind as additional to Hiroshima city. We discussed which one will go first, at first my plan was the city then Miyajima Island. My sister thought opposite. Her idea was more sensible than mine since the afternoon of the next day, we’re planning to go to Kyoto which is another famous city of Japan and very far from Hiroshima. So we decided with agreement that we will go and explore Miyajima Island first and followed by the city the next day.

Because of limited time we had, the major places we visited within Hiroshima Prefecture where two of world heritage sites can be found, they are:

1. Miyajima Island, Hatsukaichi City

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2. Hiroshima City

Hidden Panorama - Hiroshima Prefecture

Japan Highlights At The First Visit

I know that it’s been a while since my last post. After being busy in a project at work, I was busy planning my next out of the country adventure this year together with my family.

Traveling in a country with visa is most likely a dream to me because your chances to see that country is whether the visa application is approved. If the visa approved we are really lucky. If not, the hope will probably gone as there’s no way to come to that country in a normal and legal way.

When I heard that Japan loosen a bit of its strictness in processing visa specifically for tourists visa to promote their tourism, I put some thought to visit the country since last year. Then, I waited my chance for cheap airline ticket since I am planning to travel together with my family (with my parents and my youngest sibling). Last February this year, I received alert email from one of the budget airline in my country and I grabbed my chance to book tickets for myself and my family. Honestly, it was difficult to get cheap ticket with combined promo rate both for departure and arrival flight but with perseverance I was able to find combinations of dates for our travel.

Almost 7 months had passed and I’m still not sure if we can really travel to Japan for many reasons. And last August, I processed all our visa applications and submitted it to one of the authorized travel agency of Japan Embassy as their office does not accept anymore applications directly from applicant. I completed all the requirements and prepared for the visa fee. I applied a single entry for all of us. And after 3 days of processing, the agency called me and notified me that the visa were already approved. I was ecstatic when I heard the news, because the major worry of the travel planning if we can push visiting Japan got resolved. When I returned to pickup the passports, I was surprised for one thing. I received a multiple visa for 5 years in Japan while the rest of my family just got single entry. For me and my family, being approved even for single entry in Japan was one of the great things happened because it gave us a chance to see the country even for once. I just thought that if there is a need to re-apply for visa, it will be probably easier because we’ve had a record that we had visited Japan.

Even before visa application processing, I already started searching places to visit in Japan. Since after the booking of our flight, I have hope that I will be able to see Japan. When our visa approved, that’s was the time I made a real itinerary. I planned the places to visit and the accommodation where were going to stay. I aligned all the accommodations that we need to all places we planned to visit. Since I’m always on a budget, I selected hotels walk able to and from the train station, as I learned that taking a cab in Japan is quite pricey. I also bought necessary advance tickets such as train pass and sumo ticket to reserved guaranteed slot for my family.

My family and I traveled the country within 10 days, these includes two flights to and from Japan. In total we spent at least 8.5 days roaming around in Japan.

Here are the following places we’ve  got a chance to visit.

1. Tokyo

Ginza

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Akihabara

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Ueno

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Asakusa

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Tokyo Skytree

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2. Yokohama

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3. Mount Fuji and Kawaguchiko

Mount Fuji

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Kawaguchiko

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4. Miyajima and Hiroshima

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5. Osaka

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