Getting my learns and Okonomiyaki on in Hiroshima

It’s been about a month since I travelled to Hiroshima and it’s taken me this long to actually post about it because aside from being lazy, thinking of how to explain the trip was somewhat of a challenge.

The struggle stemmed mostly from the fact that I really enjoyed Hiroshima and its surrounding islands a great deal but also the feelings of guilt I had when I walked through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Seventy years ago, the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb near the city’s center killing thousands of people going about their daily lives in their tracks. The effects the bomb had on the health of the survivors transcend time. What occurred here was truly horrendous. The stories I heard and images I saw in the museum were very moving and painful.

Visiting the museum and the sites like the a-bomb dome and the Sadako Sasaki memorial made me hyper-aware of my Americanness. In me was a fear that others around me would think I was just another proud-and-loud American here to take inventory 70 years later of the atrocities my country committed here. I’m sure it was only me, but I couldn’t shake that feeling.

Around the city there were many reminders of what happened here and photographs of what the areas looked like after the bombing for comparison. For most of the people of Hiroshima it is important to keep those reminders so as to prevent another attack with nuclear weapons from occurring again.
With the almost constant talk of Iran or North Korea throwing out threats of nuclear warfare, we need to remember Hiroshima now more than ever.

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This portion of my trip only took up about 4 hours of my time but it was definitely something I still think of often.

The rest of the trip was nice. The city has an excellent bike-share program so we rode around the city for two days at around 20$USD and checked out the Hiroshima Castle and the shopping arcade. The first day we arrived, we took a speedboat to Miyajima island and spent the day exploring around and visiting the Itsukushima shrine. The island is somewhat mountainous and there are a few hiking trails. We had just returned from climbing Mt. Fuji and were still recovering so we opted out.

The port is a gateway to the Pacific and the islands are beautiful and green and the water is clear. Our hotel had a private beach but the water was a little too chilly to go for a swim.

We also had as much of Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki as we could handle. Okonomiyaki is a pancake of cabbage, some type of meat depending on the one you choose (usually pork and/or squid) and egg. After it’s cooked on a grill, the cook brushes on a coat of okonomiyaki sauce that is like a thick A-1 sauce, then drizzles it with mayo and tops it off with a hearty sprinkling of fish flakes. I usually skip on the fish flakes and mayo, though. Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima all have their different takes on this delicious pancake. Hiroshima’s version is cooked in layers and includes one layer of noodles. My mouth is watering just thinking back on it.

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We were taken by Hiroshima’s beauty. If you plan on going I would suggest a two-day trip max. By the third day, we had seen all of the city’s attractions so just rode around and had coffee and dessert at a river-side restaurant. Also, load up on as much Okonomiyaki as possible. I tried one with kimchi that was amazing.

And all of those things are nice but the most important thing about visiting Hiroshima is that those who suffered there didn’t do so in vain. The cliche about not repeating history’s mistakes is not so cliche when you’re face-to-face with the reality of mistakes as horrible as this.

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