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

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.

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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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.

Tatami Room

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

Kawaguchiko – Finding Enjoyment on its Lake after Unexpected Moments

After spending sometime in the 5th station of Mount Fuji, we decided to go to Fujikawaguchiko. A town near at the base of the mountain. My whole family and I will never forget this town in our Japan travel because it was the place we experienced a nervous and quite hopeless moments of our lives. It was not really a life threatening situation but a desperate moment of our travel.

After we got off from the bus we took from 5th Station to Kawaguchiko Station, we walked around near the station to find an ATM machines so I can withdraw some money we need. First, we tried the convenience store that we found and we were unlucky because I was not able to take some money because it seems that my ATM card was not being accepted. Next, we tried another similar convenience store and I tried again my ATM card and the result were the same. At that time I started to feel anxious. We walked back to the station and went to the information center and asked around about the ATM nearby. After some inquiries, I let my parents stayed in the station. My sister and I went to find the banks and the post office that was given to us by the officer from information center. There were two more banks we visited and tried my ATM card, again both result were the same. I was really confused and surprised because I was able to get the money at the ATM in airport. There was one last place we had tried on, the post office where there’s international ATM. At that time, I was really nervous and felt uncomfortable because my family and I were in the middle of a town far from Tokyo and does not have enough money to even come back to the city (I only reserved the bus and still need to pay for it). At the post office, I tried to use my ATM again and the result was failed again. When that happened I had a feeling that my ATM card was somewhat blocked by my bank in the Philippines. It’s my suspicious reason why my ATM was not accepted for almost 5 places with international ATM.

I was thinking to call the bank. I have my mobile phone but felt doubtful to use it since I was weary about the international calls that will cost me. I checked my Skype and checked if it has still load to allow me to call outside. I saw that it wasn’t enough. I reloaded my Skype account and used it to call the bank. During the call, my hunch was  correct. The bank blocked my account after they detected, that there was withdrawal in my ATM outside the Philippines. I was really angry with them, because they never notified me, then told me they’re trying to reach me but unsuccessful. The agent that was talking to me, immediately unblock my card. After the call, at the post office, I tried my ATM card again and without issues, I successfully withdrawn money. It was really a great relief. That time I felt at ease. My sister and I came back to the station to pick-up my parents. That’s the only time we were able to had our lunch. What an experience indeed!!!

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Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko)

Because we lost time to see more around Fujikawaguchiko, I decided to see the nearby lake from the station. We walked around half an hour and we reached Lake Kawaguchi. As we were anticipating the bus scheduled booking that I had to go back to Shinjuku, we estimated our time to spend in the lake. We spent sometime in some parts of the lake. We walked a bit and enjoyed the sceneries that the lake is offering.

Kawaguchiko Station

Finally, we went back to Kawaguchiko Station. And there I exchanged my booking to bus tickets and paid appropriately. Then we’ve waited for our bus to arrived. If our travel from the city to Mount Fuji 5th station was smooth in the morning that day, it was different when we were on our way back to the city. Since it was Sunday night, we experienced the traffic jam that Japan has. We left Kawaguchiko station past 6PM and we arrived in Shinjuku station almost 11PM and had our dinner in the area. We reached our hotel in the city almost 12AM. It was a good thing that the next day adventure we had in our schedule gave us ample time to rest because we were schedule to watch Sumo Bout event.

That’s how we spent our third day in Japan.

Mount Fuji – A Sacred Famous Mountain and Arts Inspiration in Japan

One of the considered perfect cone volcano in the world is Mount Fuji. I first learned to know about this volcano in Japan when our very own active volcano from my country named Mayon Volcano which is also considered to be the same with perfect cone volcano. I learned that Mount Mayon considered to be similar to Mount Fuji. Though I haven’t seen Mayon Volcano for real and only in photos, I can see the resemblance of the two. For me, both of them are probably has perfect cone. Based on photos, both of them has magnificent scenery from a distance. The difference that I can emphasized between the two is Mayon Volcano doesn’t have snow-capped because we don’t have winter season like Japan.

As a mountaineer, I also dreamed to climb Mount Fuji. But during the trip to this mountain, it’s not part of the family’s itinerary, I only planned to see the mountain and its summit up close and personal and be within the mountain since I was with my family.

It was our third day in Japan when I scheduled the trip to Mount Fuji. It was Sunday that day and the only thing I booked was a bus going to Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (also known as Yoshidaguchi 5th Station or Kawaguchiko 5th Station) of the mountain from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and a return bus from Kawaguchiko Station back to Shinjuku Station.

All of us woke-up early in the morning and prepared as early as possible we can based on the time calculations I did to reached the bus station that will bring us to Mount Fuji. From the hotel we took subway Hibiya Line from Kayabacho station to Naka-Meguro and we transferred to Marunuchi Line to Ogikubo in Ginza station and got off at Shinjuku Station.

Because Shinjuku station is one of the major and interchange station we experienced some difficulties to find the bus terminal that I bought the ticket online. The terminal we were looking for was Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal. We arrived at Shinjuku station at the right time that I planned it, but because we need to find the terminal, it seems that the timing was very tight as the bus schedule we need to take was 6:40am and at 6:30am we must be in the terminal as we need to exchange the booking that I had to a bus ticket. We asked few locals around the area of Shinjuku station but it seems no one understand our English language. We looked around and saw where the bus coming from and asked again while we were walking towards the  terminal. We talked to someone and confirmed where the terminal was. I had a map of the bus station but because of some orientation issue we got confused at first. My sister whose really good in directions confused too until she noticed some of the landmarks.

Finally we found the bus terminal and we saw a lot of people in the station. It was not really surprising because Mount Fuji is a popular tourist destination in Japan. I went inside the ticket office where queues of people can be seen, I queued myself and when it was my turn, I exchanged my booking to a ticket and we were set to board the bus. Most of the people coming to Mount Fuji were climbers or hikers. They were completely geared for the climb. When I saw the climbers I felt some envy within myself because they will climb Mount Fuji and I wasn’t.

We queued in the line and waited for our bus. When the bus arrived, I started to get excited because Mount Fuji like its country of Japan was one of my dream to see for real. When we got on-boarded in the bus, I can’t deny the excitement that I felt. The bus left the terminal and while we were trying to leave Shinjuku area, I saw some part of Shinjuku. I just realized and noticed that the place is towering of buildings. It seems there are lots of businesses districts and offices area that surrounds Tokyo.

We took the highway after leaving Shinjuku area. The bus travel we did that day was the first travel we had by land aside from train. From the time that we arrived in Tokyo, we always took trains from one point to another. Because we were in the bus, it added some excitement because I can see some part of Japan while traveling. The great thing about it, I can see a lot of places while in the road. The whole travel took us more than 2 hours before we reached the 5th station in Mount Fuji. Because we traveled in Sunday morning there’s not much traffic in the road. When we reached the base of the mountain, I felt that the atmosphere changed and the road trajectory was snaky. Then, next thing happened, there’s some drizzle in the air. Being part of the mountaineering group made me realized the rain within the mountain specially if nearer in the summit seems to be normal and that drizzle in Mount Fuji was not really surprising to me.

After the rain just stopped while in 5th Station in Mount Fuji

At 5th Station (Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station)

Around Mount Fuji 5th Station

Before we reached the 5th station of Mount Fuji, the rain fell. And when we got off the bus, we felt the cool weather in the mountain. And to think that its raining, we really experienced the windy chilly rain. Since the 5th station is the most developed than other stations around the mountain before summit, we saw different establishments in the area such as hotel for accommodations and shopping stores that people can go to temporarily as a shelter while it’s raining outside and for last minute shopping before climbing the summit.

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Mount Fuji Summit

With Mount Fuji Summit

Mount Fuji is so popular to tourist and people flocking in the mountain is normal. And I also learned, that the weekend that we visited the mountain was the last weekend that the mountain was open for climbing season as it will close due to season changes. I saw a lot of groups who really came just to climb the mountain and I felt sadness again. I promised to myself that I will come back in the mountain with the objective of climbing the summit of it.

At one of the shops in Mount Fuji 5th Station

Since we were not climbing the mountain and the timing when we reached the 5th Station was not really that great. What we did were stayed and roamed around inside of one of the stores in the area as we were amazed on a lot of stuffs and souvenirs to enjoy, had our lunch, walked around in the nearby temple and lookout and finally we took photos as we can with the summit of the mountain as our background.

Komitake Shrine

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Komitake Shrine

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Sceneries at Observation Point near Komitake Shrine

A View of Yamashita Park and Marine Tower

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Yamashita Park with Marine Tower

Yamashita Park

The green park that we saw before we reached Hikawa Maru is Yamashita Park. The place is appropriate in such place where both locals and visitors enjoys the walks while appreciating the beautiful view that Port of Yokohama offers.

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Yamashita Park

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Hotel New Grand – at the front of Yamashita Park

Marine Tower

Marine Tower is located near where Hikawa Maru docked. Its front is Yamashita Park. The tower is considered as the tallest lighthouse in the world. We just took photos of the tower and we did not try anymore to visit its observation deck.

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Marine Tower

Osanbashi Pier – An Imaginary Spaceship Resemblance Terminal

 

While taking snapshots of the surrounding area of Yokohama port, we cannot avoid not to see Osanbashi Pier. I knew it was a pier because we saw large cruise ships stops in the area. But without really thinking it is a pier I just thought that it was a huge space ship because of its color, shape and design, very futuristic.

 

A Visit at NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) Maritime Museum and Exploring NYK Hikawamaru

NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) Maritime Museum

Next museum we entered was NYK Maritime Museum. Here we spent time to see the exhibits in the museum. I saw a lot of ships display which showcases the history of NYK. We witnessed as well based on exhibits how the Japan maritime evolved through the years. Not so much photos inside the museum because it was not allowed to use a camera.

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When we bought the ticket of NYK Museum, I selected the option where it includes the NYK Hikawa Maru entrance to save a bit on our tickets.

NYK Hikawamaru

NYK Hikawamaru is a ship museum docked at Port of Yokohama in Yamashita Park Waterfront. The ship is a historical ship which at first, it was a cargo-passenger liner when it was built and during the war it became a navy hospital ship, then it returned to a cargo-passenger ship again after the war.

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Entrance to NYK Hikawamaru

When we reached the ship, we realized the ship is not just an ordinary one. For me and my family it was a huge one. Walking from Yamashita Park, we walked to the entrance of the ship and climbed up to the Deck B where the main entrance is and we showed our tickets to the receptionist. After checking our tickets, we were freely able to walk inside the ship by following the track available to visitors.

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Near the Reception at Deck B

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At Mini-Theatre near at Reception at Deck B

Near the reception area, there are exhibits of photos of the ship displaying its some historical photos. There was a mini theater where it shows some videos about Hikawa Maru.

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Walkway

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First Class Childrens’ Room

We followed the walk way and along the walkway we saw the First Class Children’s Room. In that moment, I thought a bit and tried to put myself of being one of the child of the rich people at those old times and I thought that I probably felt really lucky.

First Class Dining Saloon

Our walk continues until we reached the First Class Dining Saloon. As my minds wondering as I saw the room, I imagined we were part of the ship where most people belong to high-class societies  can be found and they were savoring their delicious food while on boarded in the ship. And I understood that time it was really expensive to be in that room, what more this time.

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First Class Social Hall

We moved on and climbed to the Deck A where we found the First Class Reading Room. Then it followed by First-Class Social Hall.

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Exhibition Room

First Class Cabin (First Class Passenger’s Room)

First Class Smoking Room

Next we saw was Exhibition Room, then First-Class Passenger’s Room followed by First-Class Smoking Room and Deluxe Cabin.

Port of Yokohama and Minato Mirai 21

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Outdoor Deck

In Deck A, the outdoor deck can be found where I enjoyed the scenery around the Port of Yokohama and Minato Mirai 21 – the central business district of Yokohama located.

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N1, N2 and N3 Deck

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Wheelhouse

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Looking Towards Yamashita Park and Marine Tower

We climbed N1 Deck, then N2 Deck where Captains Office is and climbed again in N3 Deck where the Wheelhouse is.

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Third Class Cabin

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Engine Room

After enjoying the top deck areas, we went down to Deck C. In Deck C where we found the Third-Class cabin. The Gallery is located in the same deck too. Then, I got excited when I saw the Engine Room. And it’s not a small one it’s a huge room and there’s is a track we followed as well to go around the Engine Room. And there’s more, the Deck D, still housed the other parts of the Engine Room.

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Exhibition Room

The last portion that can be found in the ship is the exhibition room that showcases the rich history of Hikawa Maru.

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