Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fernandezes in Japan: Hiroshima & Miyajima

Konnichiwa, arigato gozaimasu, sumimasen, kawaii, umai, oishi, matcha, tonkatsu, kushikatsu, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, wagyu, gyudon, soba, ramen, sushi, itadakimasu were some of the few words I learned and could remember on my recent trip to Japan (most of them were food. hahaha). I am so in love with Japanese food. Actually, I loved everything about Japan! It's clean, organized, the people were polite and nice, the culture fascinated me, the cities, old and new, each had it's own charm, and of course the vending machines and toilets! hahaha. I really have a thing about toilets. If I could only buy their hi-tech toilets as a souvenir, I would! lol. 

There were a gazillion things I loved about my first trip to Japan but my most favorite one was to be reunited with my hilaw-Japanese husband.hehehe. My husband speaks Japanese fluently because he lived there for more than a decade. It was his second home. I was so lucky to have my own personal interpreter and tour guide for free! 

Going to Japan, I sort of learned more about my husband's character. Some of his attributes were influenced by Japanese people, perhaps. His being respectful, polite, kind, hard working, and especially, his being on time! lol. He would be so stressed out with me whenever I am late sometimes. :p Anyway, I'm glad he had acquired those good qualities from the Japanese. 

We really had a memorable time and we'd like to share this wonderful experience to you. My husband was so kind to blog about our trip and we hope this will be helpful to some of you who plans to visit Japan someday. 



Alan wrote:

After an early buffet breakfast in our hotel near Shin-Osaka, we set out for Hiroshima by bullet train or Shinkansen.

It was a little less than 2 hours ride by Shinkansen Hikari to Hiroshima station.

Our first stop in Hiroshima was the A-bomb dome.  We used the street car tramline Hiroden to our destination. The dome was a manifestation of the destruction that the first atom bomb created in Hiroshima during World War 2. The place was serene and peaceful, in contrast to the grim reminder that it represented. We prayed in front of the stone carving memorial made for the victims of this tragedy.

After a round of pictures and video taking, I realized that I had forgotten my iPad in the train. So, we headed back to Hiroshima Station to get it immediately.  Thanks to my wife who put up with me in this misadventure. Fortunately, our train had stopped in Hiroshima and we were able to retrieve it without a problem in the lost and found. Elsewhere, it might have just been picked up by a stranger, but this is Japan. 

Pledging not to leave anything behind again, we went to the Station Square or Ekimae Hiroba which was located on the 6th floor of a building in front of Hiroshima Station. There was a collection of street food restaurants that Hiroshima was known for: the Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza).

Okonomiyaki is made out of flour and a lot of cabbage plus anything you want to add. Hiroshima is known for adding noodles in them.  You can choose between soba or udon. Joselle's order was the double cheese okonomiyaki with extra sunnyside-up as a topping. My order had the same name as the restaurant we ate at, which is Denko-Sekka meaning "quick as lightning." I figured since it had the name of the restaurant it must be good. It had 2 eggs with all the toppings that you would expect in an okonomiyaki: squid and pork, plus Oba or beefsteak plant topped by a lot of Japanese leeks on the top. It was really good and probably healthy with all the greens, but I liked Joselle's double cheese better.  Hehe. Joselle was nice enough to share hers with me.  You could probably share one order with someone and be full.

With a more than full stomach, we went on to the ferry boat going to Miyajima, a small island known for its floating torii. Miyajima means "shrine island" housing the Itsukushima shrine which had the floating torii. The floating torii is called such because at high tide, it gets submerged by water and looks like it is floating.

A tip when going to Miyajima: if you buy the JR pass which has access to all JR lines in Japan as well as Shinkansen, you also have free access to their ferry boats going to and from Miyajima.

Unboarding the boat, we were greeted by a deer which was walking amidst people like it doesn't care. We also saw a couple of deer staring in front of a restaurant door, as if they wanted to eat in it. The deer are not afraid of people there since they are not oppressed and they even get fed by people.

Hiroshima is also known for its oysters and there were many food stalls selling them but we didn't mind eating it. I heard that there is a shop where you can eat oysters all you can, and it's much better than what they sell in the streets.

The momiji manju is also a favorite in Miyajima.  This steamed bread with jam or cream inside is shaped like a maple leaf. We saw a shop with a wonderful Japanese garden and had freshly steamed momiji manju with cream and chocolate inside. Unfortunately, it started to rain so we went back to the ferry after buying some momiji manju for our friends.

We were able to check in at the Sheraton Hiroshima, courtesy of our family friend Tita Beth. Thank you so much! We asked the staff where was a good place to eat Ramen for dinner, and they mentioned a restaurant really near to the hotel. When we arrived, the place was still full of people lining up so we tried to look for another place. However, in the end, we still decided to eat at the Ramen place. Fortunately, it was already clear of people when we arrived the second time. Was I glad that we went back to that Ramen place because I think it was the best shoyu ramen stock I ever tasted! You can watch my reaction in our video and it should sum up everything.

Hiroshima was a really peaceful and quiet city. Considering it was already the beginning of golden week which is the longest holiday in Japan, there weren't many people so it may be a good place to visit if you're looking for a not-so-busy-and-crowded city. Although it may get crowded with tourists in Autumn where people watch the beautiful maple leaves fall in Miyajima.


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