I have always pictured Hiroshima is a symbol of resilience and hard work but known little when it comes to visiting the city for the first time. I was very excited when I planned for my trip to Japan and Hiroshima was on my itinerary. While still rooted in Japanese traditions, the city has a unique vibe compared to any other cities in Japan; Industrious yet not similar to Osaka in any scene.
One of my fond memories is travelling around Hiroshima using the classic trams; where the operating mechanisms are still all manual. Within the city center, the fare is flat rate and you just put in the coins into the machine and there is an operator onboard to help you change notes into coins if you need to; and it is a pretty cool thing to see that the traditional ways are still upheld.
Hiroshima has its own signature dishes to try on; it is famous for oysters and anago (saltwater eel) and of course, their interpretation of Okonomiyaki. I think I still prefer the Osaka (Kansai) style where they mix the noodles together with the batter and cook; because Hiroshima style tastes a bit more like Yakisoba. As for anago, I went for a restaurant that specialized only for anago where they grill the daily-caught eels over a traditional charcoal grill. I never really like anago (as compared to Unagi which I absolutely love) but this dish was just life-changing good.
One place to visit is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the park; unexpectedly, it was the most thought-provoking and emotional museum visit ever; seeing the brutality of the aftermath of the atomic bomb on the residences. It brought me some understanding why there is such a strong Japanese public opinion about keeping Japan as a peaceful country that can’t declare war. I walked out with a strong admiration on the spirit of Hiroshima that they rebuilt the city to where it is now, all from the ruins and rubbles.
Although not as well-known as Himeji and Osaka castle, Hiroshima castle proudly stands on the city grounds. The castle was destroyed by the bombing but a replica was built on the same location and it now serves as a museum.
It is rather sad that in the course of our lives, we make many journey; chances are that there won’t be a second visit. Occasionally we make exceptions but the reality is with the countless possibilities and limited resources, we make compromises. Hiroshima, for me, is one such place; I have gained much admiration and understanding and perhaps, one day I would like to return again. The one day, I am afraid may not come.