Nippon Trip: Hiroshima

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Michele Moricci

HIROSHIMA In about 17 days, we have traveled far and wide the central Honshu, the western and part of the Kansai. The enthusiasm leaves a little ‘space to tiredness but before returning to Tokyo and leave Japan, our journey still promises us some interesting destinations.

Once left Kyoto we head to Miyajima, a small island that is home to more than 1500 years of  the elegant Itsukushima Shrine and its famous vermilion Torii that “floats” on the water. To host us, here they are again, the fawns – in search of food or shelter from the sun under the trees. The island is crowded with tourists and small shops facing the sandy road.

The temple is floating on clear water, however, we cross it quickly to aim to close the famous Torii which lies on the sea and dominates the small bay. We put ourselves strictly in a row – as Japaneses do – to posing with the Torii behind us. We eat in a small bistro with fusion cuisine, order a Sandoichi (sandwich) with eggs, ham and wasabi sauce.

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In the late afternoon we arrive at Hiroshima and decide to push straight to the farthest point from downtown to visit the MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art. In addition to the permanent collection are a dismal installation of Doris Salcedo: a silent hymn to peace in a city destroyed by the atomic bomb.

The day after we visit Hiroshima. We start from the Memorial Peace Park: a journey through the horrific memories of the war, the atomic bomb and the devastating effects it had on the population. We cross the many memorials dedicated to the victims while the silence reigns supreme in the spacious gardens, including terrifying memorabilia and photographic evidence that retrace that terrible morning of August 6, 1945. It is difficult not to feel and be shocked by all that horror. After crossing the river we get to A-Bomb Dome: the only building left standing during the bombing, still visibly “bent” by the force of the explosion. Not far from there we play the Gong that echoes across the square for a few minutes. Once again a hymn to peace.

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The city center is full of shops, hotels, and a whole neighborhood that mixes elements typical of the ’80s meet the Europeans architectures. The skyscrapers stand tall and are interrupted by small buildings and sacred temples. Not much else to see in the city, but this calmness allows us to give us a break and have a little relaxation.

Before going back to Tokyo, we know that cannot leave Japan without trying to spot Mount Fuji: so we venture to Hakone, where the Mount should show itself in all its glory, unaware, however, that it would take almost 2 hours from Osaka. One fast train on the line “shinkansen“, another train, a cable car and 40€ to get so high that you can aim just a bunch of clouds obscuring Mount Fuji. The Ropeway allows us to see Lake Ashi and the sulfurous mountains of Owakudani but Mt Fuji. At least we tried.

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Late in the evening, we arrive in Tokyo. The following days, we enjoy the city without haste, we take a Frappuccino at the Ueno Park and do the final laps of Shopping. We would like to have more time to enjoy Japanese life – made of chaos but also placid tranquility rooted in their culture, in the nature that surrounds the big cities. We own every moment of this trip to take home memories, feelings and emotions. And we definitely succeeded. Yes, dream realized and now wondering about the opportunity to come back soon to see the cherry blossoms…


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Michele Moricci