Hiroshima and Miyajima – An unexpected surprise 0

My 3rd visit to Hiroshima started off really well. We arrived on a Friday night and as we get in to the city, we see lots of carnival style tents lining the roads. It turns out we had timed it perfectly and arrived right in the middle of the the Tokasan festival (aka Yakata festival), Jason and I took the hotel’s bikes out and went for a ride to check out the festival while the girls all went to the peace memorial museum. While out and about, we stopped and bought some delicious takoyaki, which are octopus balls. They weren’t the best ones I have had but they were certainly delicious.
One of the nights we were there, we went out of some okonimoyaki. Okonimoyaki is basically lettuce, bean shoots, spring onion, egg and a couple of other things mixed in to the shape of a pancake. There are 2 styles of okonimoyaki in Japan. One is the Osaka style, or traditional style which most of the country would have. The other is Hiroshima style, which obviously is a specialty of Hiroshima. My personal preference is Hiroshima style as they have noodles under the “pancake”.

We were recommended a place nearby the hotel by the fantastic staff at the front desk (Super Hotel Hiroshima) and went to check it out. When we got there it was packed and we couldn’t get a seat. They said they’d call us but we thought there was no hope of getting a table so we set off to find somewhere else.  Luckily, after wondering aimlessly for 20 mins or so and nobody being able to decide on a place to eat, they phone Jason and said there’s 1 table free.  Let me just say that it was definitely worth the wait! The service there was excellent and the food just kept coming and coming. Every dish we ordered was delicious. If I’m ever back in H-town, then I will be hitting up that place again.
The night stopped there for everyone but Jason, Louise and I. We decided it would be a fun idea to go bowling. Who goes bowling randomly? We do. The first game I was getting smashed. I didn’t bowl a strike and I think Jason may have won that one. I reckon I wasn’t even half his score! I managed to come back and win the second 2 games, much to Louise’s dismay.
That was not the end of the night for Jason and I though. We went for a walk to find a bar to have a couple more drinks and ended up stumbling across this tiny bar that seated about 8 people. The owner was a 34yo bachelor who had opened the restaurant only 3 years prior.  His specialty, as we were to soon find out, was braised food that you cook on the table in front of you in a clay brazier. He actually turned out to be super cool and even invited his friend, an elementary school teacher who could speak English, to come and join us later on. Definitely one of the better experiences I’ve had in Japan!
The next day Louise, Anne and myself took a day trip to Miyajima, which is where the famous torii gate is located out in the water. It is one of the iconic symbols of Japan, however, I had actually never realised that it is was just outside Hiroshima.
Getting to Miyajima is a bit of a journey but I will say it’s highly worth it.  We also saved a lot of money as we had the Japan rail pass too. This entitles you to the free train ride (approx. 30 mins from Hiroshima station) and also a free ride on the JR ferry which goes across the inland sea.
On the island of Miyajima, there is also a beautiful temple that is set out on the water. I have included photos of it below. There is also a cable car that, due to my fear of heights, was not a very pleasant ride up. Just when you think you are at the top, you have to transfer to a second car that basically goes across what I called “death valley”.
Anne did not join us for the cable car ride so after arriving at the top, Louise and I decided to take the hike up to the top of the mountain. It was only 1.1km but you had to go down 100m then up 300m in height. It doesn’t seem like a lot on paper but it was ridiculously hot and took us about 2 hours round trip. I was wearing sneakers yet there were Japanese men in suits and women in heels. I don’t know how they did it!