One thing we really wanted to do in Japan was take the Bullet train – the Shinkansen to give it it’s proper name. J used to be utterly obsessed about trains, and both kids still enjoy travelling on them, so this has been on our bucket list for a while!
We chose Hiroshima as our destination, primarily because of the history and learning opportunities there.
The Shinkansen experience was – like most things in Japan – not at all what I’d expected. I’d expected a grand entrance for this iconic train… but that’s just not Japanese style. The trains roll in and out with precise regularity with no fuss at all. They come and go with punctuality that anyone who is used to British trains will find almost disconcerting!
Exactly on schedule, we departed Tokyo for Hiroshima. The journey takes 4 hours and it’s vey easy to while away the hours. The train – the service, the amenities and the cleanliness – are exemplary. There are many little touches on the train to make it even more comfortable… Seats that swivel around so that we were all able to sit together and blankets are distributed so it’s very possible to take a nap. On the trip out, we had perfect weather, so I am gutted to say that – by some bizarre fluke – we managed to miss mount Fuji… How we managed that is totally beyond me, but we did… I think it’s because Mount Fuji is much closer to Tokyo than I’d realised and the speed of the train meant by the time I started to think about it, we’d past it! We did catch it on the way back, and it is magnificent, but sadly the weather wasn’t as great…
But in any case, exactly on schedule, we arrived at Hiroshima.
We stayed at the Ana Crowne Plaza, which is a great location…. just a few minutes walk from the central area of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is a powerful place. An important place. So, after checking in a dumping our luggage… there was only one place to head to – The atomic dome. I wanted to be able to explain the significance of the site and answer any questions the children had so we didn’t do anything else on the first day… less is more and all that. It’s quite enough to take in!
After that, we went to explore… so, these are 5 top things to do in Hiroshima:
- The peace park. It’s beautiful. You could spend a whole day here just looking at the various sculptures and reading the signage. We especially enjoyed the peace bells; It is like making your own personal commitment to peace.
- The castle. It’s a bit of a walk, but totally worth it. We took the path along the river, which is slightly longer, but very pretty and relaxing. The castle has a shrine attached to it. I’m afraid we didn’t understand the full significance of it, but it was captivating none the less.
- The Hiroshima Children’s museum. I truly can’t rate this place enough. Totally free (though there is an extra change for the planetarium) and so hands-on that it truly doesn’t matter about the language difference. J and G had a ball! We spent a good few hours here and enjoyed it immensely. There are some very engaging and informative exhibits!
- The shops. The shopping area is very cool (the covered area reminded me of Las Vegas) … there are a great selection of products on sale, and it feels more ‘Japanese’ than the markets we’d been to in Tokyo. The kids loved exploring Goku and Pokémon!
- English food… OK, OK… I get it… Surely we should be writing about the wonderful Japanese food we experienced… but that’s just not us. There are hundreds of blogs related to food and where and how to find the most authentic meal in any given city. Those blogs are not ours!!! Food is – and always has been – a huge issue for us – so we are never going to be first in line to give top tips on local cuisine… but what we can do (and do well!) is give tips on how to travel when you / your child has sensory issues! So, we went in search of the best British food we could find – there are quite a few, but the best one we found was Kemby’s – the food, service and environment were all fab!
So, there you go… our top 5 things to do in Hiroshima (obviously, the atomic dome and the bullet train are not included, as they were ‘must dos’ for us) Hiroshima is a place I’d recommend to everyone…. Beautiful, thought provoking and peaceful is how we’d sum it up.