Happy New Year! I hope you had nice Christmas and new year holiday with your family.
New year in Japan is like Christmas in Europe and America, so many stores are closed and we generally spend the time with our family visiting our local shrine and temple after having Osechi ryori (we prepare special meal for new year).
The photo on the top is a first sunrise of this year on the 1st of January 2018, which we call Hatsuhinode (初日の出) and we believe that seeing the first sunrise of the year brings you good luck for that year. You can see the Tokyo Sky Tree on the right hand side of the photo because I live in that area so I can see the tower from my balcony.
After seeing the hatsuhinode, I left my home in Tokyo for Hiroshima, which takes about 4 hours by Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo (click here for the access to the city).
I had been asking those tourists who had visited my store for the past few years where was the best place they had visited in Japan and to my surprise Hiroshima came to the top! Many people had visited Kyoto, but they said that Kyoto was too busy and too touristy nowadays, but Hiroshima was different.
When they talked about Hiroshima, they also included Miyajima island, which is famous for Itsukushima shrine (厳島神社) and it has retained unique culture and beautiful mountain as well on the small island.
I have also visited many places myself and I believe I have visited more places than many Japanese of my age, but I haven’t visited that area, so I decided to pay a visit during this winter holiday.
Some people might have heard of Hiroshima as being destroyed with the atomic bomb. Although the city was completely destroyed by the bomb (more than 160,000 people had died because of the bomb and many more people had suffered from various illness because of being exposed to radiation), the city rapidly reestablished as the 10th largest city in Japan in terms of population (about 1.2 million).
When I stood in front of the ruin (a bomb dome), I couldn’t hold back my tears. So many people suffered from the bomb and so many people prayed for the dead and the world peace on that ground, so it was just so powerful and I could even feel it by just standing there.
I then visited the memorial park and the museum located nearby.
On the following day, I visited Miyajima island.
This is the famous Torii gate to Itsukushima shrine, which is built on the sea ( I forgot to take photos of the main shrine…. but you can find lots of photos on internet).
You have to take a ferry to land on the island. There are hotels and ryokans on tha island too, so you can stay there. The island was much bigger than I expected and there are many things to see there, so you can easily spend a day there.
There is a mountain on the island and you can ride a ropeway to the top of the mountain (you actually have to walk about 30 minutes to go to the actual top though).
You can enjoy the spectacular view from the top!!! It was magical experience.
This island is also famous for fresh oysters and conger, which is similar to eel, but it lives in the ocean.
It was yummy!! Conger is cooked with charcoal and laid on the bed of steamed rice with soy sauce based sauce.
If you are more energetic and have a spare time, you can also visit Iwakuni in Yamaguchi prefecture (about 1 hour by a car).
Iwakuni is famous for the old wooden bridge called Kintaikyo (錦帯橋).
The bright right shinning over the bridge is the Iwakuni castle.
I also visited Takehara (竹原) on the last day, which is about 1 hour and 30 min. by a car from Hiroshima. This area has preserved old town just like it used to be and it is not as busy as other cities known for being old like Kyoto and Kamakura, so I really enjoyed walking around the town thinking and imagining how those people used to live there at that time…
Hiroshima area is also famous for high quality makeup brushes called Kumanofude (熊野筆) and you can purchase some selected lines at my store too.
If you are interested in visiting that area and if you need some advice, please do not hesitate to ask me. I will be happy to give you advice.
To contact me, please visit our HP http://www.mabysoshite.com/en/