And...we're officially starting the touring! Because of the huge number of pictures, I'm splitting this post into two parts.
We arrived in Hiroshima via Willer Express from Osaka late the night before (12am ish?) and we had to take a taxi to our backpacker accommodation because all the trams had stopped running for the night. Luckily we had the address of the place in our emails because I don't think the driver knew what J-Hoppers was. We originally wanted to try to walk to the hostel but Google maps told us it was 45 minutes away on foot. Or something like that so we decided to splurge on the taxi :P
J-Hoppers actually have a few branches: Osaka, Kyoto, Hida-Takayama in addition to the one in Hiroshima. As with most Japanese hostels, it was super clean and the dorm beds were quite comfy (IMO). They had a nicely equipped kitchen which we used for cooking 2 dinners. They also have a little discount voucher in their pamphlet where if you stay with them for 3 days you get 300 yen off your total room rent. It also applies to the other branches and there's no expiry date.
The supermarket wasn't too far away either and that's where we bought our first punnet of Japanese strawberries! Spring is strawberry season and as I said in my food review, Japan is all about local produce so even the strawberries are local to a region! It is usually stated on the pack where the strawberries are from (in kanji) so you can tell if they're local or 'imported' from another area.
MF and I love strawberries. Hiroshima strawberries pleasantly surprised us with its 'Strawberry Quality', so it kind of became a thing for us to buy the strawberries of the area we were in to taste and review them. No reviews for Hiroshima though because we hadn't started at that point in time but I do remember them tasting sweet and juicy with a bit of tartness to them. I think we got them for around 280-290 yen?
Anyway, on our first day we decided we would just explore the city area and find ourselves some Hiroshima okonomiyaki. I talk about that here. On the way to the restaurant, we came across our first sighting of sakura!!
After brunch, we made our way to the main shopping street. We wandered around the shops and bought some Japanese mochi before heading off to our next stop: Hijiyama park.
I can't remember why we decided to go there.. might have been from Lonely Planet because it says that Hijiyama park is noted for it's sakura blossoms in spring.
Just fyi, the tram system in Hiroshima is super easy to navigate and it's quite value for money if you get a day pass and travel a lot. I think you need at least 4 rides to break even... It also stopped near all of the sight seeing places we went to.
We didn't get the pass on that day because we were only taking the tram twice.
The way into the park is quite hilly so we made our way slowly and on our way up we met a Japanese couple who offered to give us an umbrella that they had found (it was a little rainy). Soooo nice of them but we had our own so we declined.
The pictures pretty much speak for themselves~
I was in that omg-sakura-we-need-pictures-of-every-single-tree-MF-go-take-pictures phase!!
All in all, it was a relatively quiet day. The weather didn't help much. It's always a drag when it rains while you're on holiday :(
The next day had much better weather.
We wanted to go to the Peace Pagoda which is on top of a hill overlooking the city. Thought that it'd be nice for pictures since we would get a nice view.
OMG, the walk was LONG. And UPHILL.
See that pointy thing at the top of the hill (first picture of the above series)? That's where we had to get to. There were some nice pictures on the way though.
MF also decided to take pictures of people's garden flowers lol. (We have a LOT of random flower/people's houses/garden pictures which I have decided not to post :P) It did, however, give us a good idea of what suburban Japanese houses look like. And also imagining those people having to walk up and down that hill to get home if they didn't have a car >.<
We reached the top where we were greeted with more sakura! And a lovely view of the city and the Seto Inland sea.
We realised when we reached the top that we hadn't walked the right way up (we turned too early and didn't see the entrance to the shrine that's at the bottom of the hill) so we went down the way we were supposed to come.
It was a lot more pleasant walk. I'm not sure if it would have been better if we had gone up the right way though...there were a lot of steps. But going down steps is easier, so win for us?
There were also lots of mini torii gates which looked really pretty against the greenery of the hill.
The Peace Pagoda hill is near the train station so we headed there afterwards for our oyster lunch.
Shukkeien garden was our afternoon stop because the receptionist at J-Hoppers said that we could see peach (momo) tree blossoms there.
The picture below is a peach tree. Initially, I thought it was two trees entwined together but then we realised that it's one tree but its blossoms have two colours: pink and pale pink! Cool, no?
In the picture below you can see the two coloured blossoms side by side. ^^v
According to our photos, it's called 源平枝垂れ桃 (Genpei shidare momo).
Apart from the name difference, looks-wise I'm not really sure what the difference is between peach and cherry blossoms. They don't really have a scent and the blooms are similar. And of course, there are variations of peach and cherry blossoms as well! I do like the fact that Japanese people look at the blooming of flowers to see how spring is changing: the blooming of plum (ume) blossoms signaling the end of winter/start of spring followed by momo then sakura. Personally, I would have loved to see the transition and blooming of the ume first then the momo and sakura but obviously all the ume blossoms had gone by the time we were there and the plum trees had started sprouting leaves already.
</insert poetic reference to how ephemeral life is>
The garden itself wasn't very big. There was a lot of greenery, a variety of peach and some sakura trees. They also had a plum tree grove but no flowers when we were there.
Two lonely sakura :P
This courtyard was semi-encircled with sakura. There was a cafe or something in the building behind it and I imagine it would be lovely sitting inside having a cup of tea while looking at the sakura swaying in the wind. (We were too cheapskate to go have a drink and just sat outside on the benches instead).
MF wanted me to take a picture with the security guard because he thought the guard looked cute.
Old Japanese people are very cute though.
More to come in next week's post~
Let us know in the comments if there are things you'd like us to talk about!
Till next time...