We ended up spending 4 days in Hiroshima which was a good amount of time for us. The original plan had us only there for 2 days, but with taking the trains we were a bit ahead of schedule, and I’m glad we had more time to relax. After all we had still ridden over 550km so far. Another reason we stayed so long was because we were waiting to meet up with our friends Billy and Angelina who were also on vacation in Japan and were going to be in Hiroshima around the same time as us.
The first night out Mateo and I decided to explore Hiroshima’s night life and get a taste for some more Japanese craft beer. We found a great little bar called Raku Beer which had a good selection, and the guy running the place was super nice and spoke perfect English as well. We had a couple flights and tried all the beers on their menu before taking off in search of more. We ended up at a small hole in the wall (and I mean small, it could have fit maybe 5 people inside) where we tried some beer from a local Hiroshima brewery – Miyajima Beer Co. The bartender even gave us an old can of one of their beers for free. It was expired by 2 years, but it was actually not bad, and we drank it on the way to the next bar.
The next bar was a standard Irish-style bar where we ran into some fellow travelers who were out for a night on the town as well, so we decided to join them. They were good company for the most part, and it was nice to be able to hold conversations with strangers in fluent English, something we hadn’t really done for a while.
The next day Mateo and I decided to do a bit of exploring on our own and went to check out Hiroshima castle. It wasn’t the original Hiroshima castle (the original having been wiped out by the atomic bomb dropped in WWII) but rather a reconstruction, but it was still fun to see and like the other castles we’d seen so far it had plenty of cherry blossoms in the court yard. The style and architecture was also very similar to the other castles we’d seen so far.
When Billy and Angelina arrived we of course had to celebrate so we went to Taito Station, a video arcade that Mateo and I had discovered when we were exploring the city. There was floor after floor of arcade games, claw machine games, and just all sorts of fun weird stuff. Amongst other things we played some 4-player Mario Kart, some air hockey with 20 pucks at the same time, and went into these weird Snapchat-like photo booths where you take your photos with silly poses, then edit them afterwards doing things like choosing the size of your eyes, adding lipstick, changing the background, etc. I can barely stand Snapchat filters but Angelina was super excited about it so I sucked it up.
Video: Billy and Angelina playing the best game of air hockey I’ve ever seen.
We went back to Raku Beer to show our friends some good brews and fortunately they had some new beers for us to try, and also a pretty good little selection of food. We went to another bar to get some dinner and some big cheap beers. We finished the night by grabbing some more beers at the 7/11 by our AirBnB before grabbing some well-needed rest (especially for our still jet-lagged friends).
The next day we went out to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which is dedicated to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during WWII. The museum was very quiet and there was a very somber mood as we walked through it. There were many artifacts from the bombing in the museum, from people’s clothes to parts of buildings damaged in the blast. The museum is also a short walk from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the atomic bomb dome, a building which partially survived the blast.
We headed over to Taito Station once more for some last minute gaming before saying goodbye to Billy and Angelina as they continued on the rest of their vacation. It was really nice being able to see some good friends from home after being away for so long (ok, it’s only been like 3 weeks but still) and it sucked having to say goodbye so soon, but alas the trip must go on. We went back to our AirBnB and got some rest for the next day.
We took the train from Hiroshima to Takehara so that we could visit the island of Ōkunoshima, also known as bunny island. The island is inhabited by over 1,000 bunnies and is a popular tourist spot. In the 1920s the island was used to develop and store chemical weapons in secret, and rabbits were used to test them. When the chemical weapons factory was demolished those rabbits were killed, but rabbits were later reintroduced into the wild after WWII when the island was redeveloped as a park. We took the short 15 minute ferry to the island and biked around feeding the rabbits and taking photos.
Video: feeding some bunnies on the island.
The island wasn’t very big and we still had to ride to our next city so we circled around, took the ferry back to the mainland, and set off on our ride. It was a nice short 30km ride which was perfect after our few days off in Hiroshima. It only took us an hour and a half, and was a pretty flat ride, save for a small climb right at the beginning.
Now that we’re not beholden to any real schedule (meeting up with our friends in Hiroshima was the only real time/date-sensitive goal we had), we’ll be pushing along until Himeji when it’s time for us to start going up towards the northern coast as we make our way up to Sapporo.