After very brief stints in Tokyo and Nagoya (both of which we’d come back to later in the trip), we made our way to the first city on our list, Hiroshima. Here are a few things to do in Hiroshima, Japan if you find yourself there.
We called ahead and found a nice hostel in a relatively centralized location and dropped off our bags; after which we wandered around Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This was one of the hardest parts of the trip as we had to initially get over the guilt of being Americans in a city that was destroyed by our atomic bomb.
The park was constructed after the war on the area where the bomb exploded. A museum was also set up a few years later in that same area. The most intriguing part of the park is a building known as the Atomic Dome (or A-bomb Dome). This building was originally an exhibition hall built in 1915 near the Aioi Bridge. The bridge was actually the intended target of the atomic bomb, however, it missed slightly and exploded directly over the exhibition hall dome. In an eye-of-the-storm type effect, the building had somewhat survived the explosion and remained standing. During the rebuilding process, it was agreed upon to leave the ruins as a reminder of the destruction and preserve it indefinitely.
While strolling through the park, and while chowing down on corner store noodles (*nom nom nom*), an older woman on a bicycle stopped and asked us if we were Australian. Nervously, we stated that we were Americans and the woman gave us a sincere smile and welcomed us to Hiroshima before riding off. This simple encounter had a huge impression upon us. The forgiveness of the citizens blew us away. Every single person we encountered was so incredibly nice to us that we couldn’t help but fall in love with the city.
After also going through the Peace Museum (which is quite dark and sobering), we decided that we NEEDED to go to a baseball game to save our sanity and hope in humanity. It just so happened that the Hiroshima Carps were playing that night.
We bought our tickets and found our seats in the stadium. Nearby was a group of men who obviously went to every game and cheered for their team. While enjoying our beer and the first few innings, one of the men walks over to us and hands us a bag of beer snacks. After contemplating what on earth we were eating that was dry and jerky-ish, we came to the conclusion that it was dried squid. The salty snack was a great addition to our multitudes of beer and our enjoyment continued.
It only took those first few innings to realize how much the Japanese love this sport. Every single player had their own unique music that the audience would play (with a full band in tow) when they came up to the plate. This was the equivalent to a minor league game but the stadium was quite full and the crowd was going wild for every play. The excitement was contagious.
About halfway through the game, some balloons were passed out. On the end of the balloons was a small piece of plastic. After watching everyone around us, we followed the trend and inflated the balloon. However, unlike everyone else, we tied the balloon so the air could not escape. After a collective song was sung, the entire crowd released their balloons which went screaming into the air. The plastic piece on the end of the balloon turned out to be a noise maker powered by the air inside. All the balloons flew up into the air until they ran out of propulsion, all except ours. Since we had tied the end of the balloon, ours quietly floated back to the ground. The group of men near us started jovially laughing after seeing our small catastrophe and quickly grabbed the balloon, untied it, and sent it screaming into the air with the others (though slightly delayed). We couldn’t help but burst into laughter as well.
Even though the Carps ultimately lost the game, it was an amazing experience – one that aided in Hiroshima becoming our favorite city we visited. We cannot recommend any city more highly and encourage anyone who comes to Japan to make it a point to go to Hiroshima.