In Hiroshima we were ready for another day of rest. Just in time, because it was a gray rainy day we were glad to sit it out. Although it is supposed to be rainy season, so far we’ve been fortunate and only had very little rain on the road.
Naturally, during our stay in Hiroshima we visited the Peace Memorial Park and the adjoining museum. We were undeniably driven by a certain curiosity and a little craving for sensation. The Peace Memorial Park mainly encompasses statues and monuments to the victims as well as the A-bomb Dome.
One statue tells a touching story with its base “eternally festooned in multicoloured garlands of origami cranes, folded by schoolchildren from all over Japan and many other countries, a tradition that originated when radiation victim Sasaki Sadako fell ill with leukaemia in 1955. The 12-year-old started to fold cranes on her sick bed in the hope that if she reached a thousand she’d be cured; she died before reaching her goal, but her classmates continued after her death and went on to build this monument” (The Rough Guide to Japan).
The A-bomb Dome close-by is a ruin and one of the few buildings that didn’t collapse entirely because it was situated almost underneath the detonation center. Ever since it has remained almost unchanged. Hence, it is the only obvious reminder of the gruel past within the bustling city’s appearance today.
However, after the visit of the Peace Memorial Park with its admonishing A-bomb Dome and the Museum providing the numbers, illustrative material and sad stories, we can’t help to be left with a certain oppression, understandably. To give an idea: the A-bomb was deliberately detonated a couple of hundred meters above the city-center in order to maximize the impact. The detonation core was incredibly hot, steal construction simply melted and many people seemingly just disappeared leaving only a faint shadow on the pavement. As a result, about 80,000 people got killed almost immediately – let alone the other 60,000 of victims in the aftermath due to the radiation etc. Everything within the radius of about 3 km was razed to the ground almost entirely.
Leaving Hiroshima, we headed for the island of Miyajima as many tourists do. Being on top of its little mountain, we were pleased by the views over the inland sea as well by the very beautiful little temple we passed on our descent. The main reason people come here, however, is the famous Torii placed into the sea in front of the island’s shore. Toriis are traditional Japanese gates usually found at the entrance or within Shinto shrines that mark the transition from the profane to the sacred. It is large, supposedly pretty old and, as usual, vermillion. And, indeed, it showed to be a nice photo motive.
After staying for the night we left the island, continued north west and were surprised by the relatively quiet and idyllic river valleys we were cycling along for a few days. There were even sections of about 50 km with no convenience store at all ;).
Now, on the previously mentioned island as well as on our way through Western Honshu afterwards we came across a few mad animals I’d like to introduce: to begin with there were again these fearless and trusting deer of the same kind we already had seen in Nara before. However, some of them are now spoiled to such an extent that some specimen can really be of utmost annoyance. The campground, we spent the night on that island, for instance, was inhabited by dozens of deer. And we, being the only guests, attracted them literally. In order to keep them from gnawing at our panniers we had to push them away firmly. For one individual even that didn’t really help. For the night we finally ended up hiding our bikes and panniers in the disabled toilet. Sometimes I wish they would take “keep wildlife wild” more serious here.
But also the wild wildlife can sometimes cause some irritation, too, as the stone-throwing monkeys showed. We pitched our tent at the bottom of a river valley, underneath the road. After nightfall we were startled by multiple rockfalls seemingly very close to our tent. We found that it was deliberately triggered by monkeys above the road. Fortunately, we weren’t in reach and the rock face along the road was secured with steel nets.
And last but not least, a few times we were woken up by wild boars loudly roaming around in the vicinity of our tent. Being rudely awakened like that isn’t very polite and considerably accelerates the heart rate for a moment.