Leaving Osaka behind, we took a train to Hiroshima where, having checked into our hotel, we went straight to the Heiwa Koen (Peace Park) and the Peace Memorial Museum where we spent almost three hours being sad and educated at the same time.
I managed not to cry this time, but I was struck again by what a great museum it is, and what an amazing job Hiroshima has done rebuilding itself.
After the museum experience, we fortified ourselves with snacks in an izakaya (noticing a trend?) before strolling the shotengai and playing in the seven-storey Daiso (hundred yen shop).
We went back to the hotel for a rest and a shower before meeting Ellie and her parents for our long-awaited Parent Date.
We went to Okonomimura for dinner–a six storey building devoted entirely to Hiroshima style okonomiyaki bars–and had delicious okonomiyaki straight from the hot plate. It was great to see Ellie again, and our parents got along excellently. Ellie and I were very pleased with ourselves for having set up such a successful parent date.
We ended the night with taiko games and purikura–which is the ultimate cementing of friendship–and a date for the following day.
The next morning, a bright and warm Sunday, we met the Diekmans at Hiroshima station and headed to Miyajima. We spent the morning wandering around the shrine and the torii, avoiding being chewed on by over enthusiastic deer, and enjoying food on sticks from the many stalls.
Since the weather was good and the line for the ropeway was long, we decided to walk to the top of Mt Misen. We set off but since Ellie and I were wearing bad shoes (and had already been to the top) we were soon ambling along by ourselves. We gave up on getting to the top, and just sat in the sun halfway up, but the others made it all the way to the top, then took the ropeway down.
That night we izakayaed again (yes, I did just make it into a verb) and, after Mum tried to take us to a snack bar and Dad befriended a sandwich board man, we ended up in an Irish pub having a final Hiroshima beer.
The next morning we had breakfast by the river (eating outside is a rare joy in Japan) at an Italian place which served decent coffee (another rare joy).
Our final act in Hiroshima was a trip to the eight storey Tokyu Hands for the ultimate Japanese shopping experience. Dad managed to resist the electric butterfly in a jar, but they did get a ceramic knife–though not the one with the panda on it–and some shoe polish for me. Yes, I can take a hint.
Then, picking our bags up from the hotel, it was off to the train station and farewell to Hiroshima!