Thursday, March 10, 2011
The Castle and Hiroshima
To break up the day of travel from Kyoto to Hiroshima, Calvin planned a little detour for a day hike. The destination was Bitchu Matsuyama castle, the highest castle in Japan. We arrived at the station and, after a quick lunch, headed toward the foothills at the edge of town. The hike was relatively short but quite steep. With all our gear in tow, it almost felt like we were backpacking. Though the colorful trees were not yet blooming radiant colors of pink and red, the forest was lush and had a very different texture and tone than any hike I have ever done. At the top, we were rewarded with a cup of tea that they provide. Exploring the castle did not take long, but this humble fortress was a priceless treasure for Western travelers wanting to re-imagine and relive the days that the samurai ruled these hills.
The next day was packed with walking around Hiroshima. We visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Park which contained several monuments to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on the city during World War II. The museum and park ooze with pain, despair, and shame, yet the beautiful and vibrant city is a testament to the resilience of these citizens and the hope that they have to rid the world of humanities destructive tendencies. After a brief stop at the hostel to switch Calvin’s contacts to glasses and to revive myself with some coffee, we walked to a park that was on the map but not mentioned in the tour guides. It turned out to be a forest park with lookouts, and we showed up just in time to watch the sunset over the city. The park was also filled with wild cats, so Calvin and I obviously had some fun with that. To end an amazing day, we ate a competitive okonomimura place that served and excellent meal.