Postcards from Hiroshima & Fukuoka

Hiroshima & Fukuoka, Japan

If you want the quick version of this trip check out my Youtube video:
Chuseok: A Trip to Hiroshima and Fukuoka

2 weeks ago Korea had one of its biggest national holidays, Chuseok. For the short break we took a ferry from Busan to Fukuoka. Whilst this was my fourth visit to Japan, the trip really stood out. This was my first time to Hiroshima and I didn’t know much about what happened on August 6th 1945. I watched a documentary beforehand to get a better idea but nothing could prepare me for the visit. It was an emotionally sobering and important experience. Visiting sites where tragic events took place is a strange thing. In the past I’ve almost felt detached. It’s hard to believe you are somewhere so well known for such horrific events, yet feeling nothing.  Maybe because in a way, it’s really impossible to fully understand such trauma and to say I do, would be untrue. When I went to Hiroshima, I was incredibly moved, frustrated and upset. The place left me feeling uneasy but also peaceful. Whilst we can never understand truly what happened, we can feel whats left and learn from it.

It’s important to say that whilst the Peace Memorial Park was a distinctly memorable part of our experience, there is more to Hiroshima than it’s dark history. During our stay we also visited some beautiful traditional areas including Miyajima and Iwakuni. We finished our trip with a day in Fukuoka exploring modern Japan. Here is our itinerary.

Day 1: Hiroshima
We got the ferry from Busan to Fukuoka and were told that our ferry back could be cancelled due to a typhoon. We were worried about what school would say but took the risk. We arrived, caught the bullet train to Hiroshima, ate ramen and that was that.

Day 2
1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park
We got off the tram and literally right there stands the A-bomb dome. It’s the only building to have survived the nuclear attack and is incredibly eerie. The park is simple and beautiful but this stands out as a distinct reminder of what happened.  There are booklets spread about in different languages allowing you to read more on what happened. The Children’s Memorial is incredibly moving where groups of school children were singing, paying their tributes. After, we visited the museum. It was incredibly informative and doesn’t use much technology. It lets the evidence speak for the horrors of what happened. By the end of it I was in tears.

2. Miyajima
It was a very heavy morning. We were both incredibly moved but we also knew that there was more to Hiroshima than just a traumatic past. The city is very cultural so we nipped over on a ferry to Miyajima. This is where you see the huge red gate in the middle of the water. You can see it at low tide or high tide, depending on how close you want to get to it. It was beautiful and there’s deer walking around freely. Nara take two! We finished the night with an incredible sushi meal in Hiroshima. The sushi chef insisted he made us his ‘special.’ Thinking he was giving us one piece we said yes, then realised we were getting a whole set. We were nervous as to how much our bill was rapidly adding up but couldn’t help but enjoy the best sushi I’ve tasted. It was worth every penny.

Day 3:
1. Iwakuni
Hiroshima is famous for its castle and the gardens but instead we went to a place not far out called Iwakuni. The area is famous for the Kintaikyo Bridge, a castle and its serene Japanese gardens. However, in amidst this lies some oddities which made it a really interesting stop. In the same area you can also visit the Imazu White Snakes Museum. Actual white snakes. We’d also heard that there was an ice cream shop which sold 100 types of ice cream including some rather unusual flavours. You can choose your standard vanilla or if you’re more adventurous, maybe ramen, curry or garlic ice cream? We chose the wasabi and it was actually really good!  It was time to head back, eat more ramen (ramen every day) and then off to Fukuoka.

 Day 4: Fukuoka
1. Robosquare
In Tokyo, I didn’t really get to see many robot-y things. However, Fukuoka is apparently one of the leading areas in this field. Robosquare offers a taster of some techno-gimics. It’s small but free to visit and fun. Talking with Hello Kitty in Japanese and watching the robots perform a show is something you can truly only see in Japan.

2. Pokemon Centre
With the hype of Pokemon-Go and just simply wanting to relive my childhood, we had to visit. I went to the store in Osaka and I would say that one is better but it was still awesome. So hard to not spend all your money. PIKA-PIKA-CHU!

3. Ramen Square
We ate ramen every single day, so why not finish with it. Ramen Square is host to many noodle restaurants in a shopping mall. The food here is so good. After, we hit up the photo booths known as ‘purikura.’ This is where they make you look like a manga character, your eyes are enlarged, skin is flawless. It’s like you’ve been made by the creators of Wallace and Gromit with added frills. I wish they had this in Korea.

Luckily the next day our ferry was still running. It was a choppy journey but we returned safely. This was probably my last visit to Japan. I’m very sad to say goodbye, but really can’t complain given what opportunities living in Busan has given me. Sayonara ㅠㅠ



28. Hiroshima

Japan: Hiroshima

‘The purpose of all wars, is peace.’ – Saint Augustine

I honestly didn’t know much about what happened on August 6th 1945, so before visiting Hiroshima I watched Steven Ozaki’s documentary, White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007). I was left with feelings of frustration and sadness which were merely a precursor to what I would experience once in Hiroshima. I was baffled at myself for not really having known much about the first atomic bomb. How could something like this happen? Even if you were to survive Hiroshima or Nagasaki, how do you go on living knowing that doctors can’t really help you because this is the first case in history.

We took a ferry from Busan to Fukuoka and spent most of our time in Hiroshima whilst also visiting the beautiful Miyajima island and Iwakuni. However, the thing I will take away most from this trip was that first morning wandering around Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It is strange to visit places where tragic events took place. The A-bomb dome shows clearly the remnants of its dark past and yet I was left feeling incredibly peaceful. Even when visiting a site, we can never truly understand such trauma but we can learn from it. Today is International Day of Peace so in light of our recent experience I thought it was suitable to share this. It’s impossible to really imagine what happened here without hearing it from people themselves. Whilst time moves on, people’s stories, scars and the sites are what reminds us that this really happened. Today is about promoting peace, not war but its important to never forget.