After the emotionally exhausting experience of visiting the atomic bomb memorials, my friend and I headed to our hostel for check I and decided to check out Hiroshima city nightlife.
Unfortunately it was a Sunday, but we didn’t let this stop us. After hanging out in the lounge of the hostel for a bit, drinking a beer from the vending machine (!!!) and unsuccessfully meeting other travelers (we hung out there for an hour and no one else came!), we set out for some foreigner bars. The first we went to, Baracos, was disappointingly empty. We enjoyed a drink there and set out for another, Molly Malone’s, an Irish Pub we hoped would have some promise. Getting slightly lost along the way, and definitely looking like it, a couple Japanese men approached us to help and literally walked us to our next stop, attempting to use some English along the way! It made the journey much more fun. Upon arrival, it was easy to see that it was definitely more popular, and although it hardly seemed to be a foreigners bar, we were just happy to be amongst other people. We excitedly ordered the “nacho chips”, a mojito and a margarita, all of which we were surprised to find on the menu. When our order came out we quickly understood why it was. My mojito was the bottled Bacardi premixed wine-cooler-esque beverage; her margarita was closer to the real thing but predominantly tequila (and only half full). Our “nacho chips” were literally tortilla chips (bottom of the bag tortilla chips at that) with what tasted like premade preserved bottled salsa and guacamole. At least we had a good laugh about it.
Still determined we headed for a final bar, the Southern Crossing, which had to be filled with some cute Aussies, right? Wrong. We mostly found New Zelanders there, and although they were definitely good for a bit of a chat and an enjoyable beer, it seemed to appropriately cap off the night. The bar was empty and not at all what we’d anticipated. Cutting our losses, we headed back to the hostel, stopping for some food at konbinis (convenience stores) along the long walk back.
The next day we got a late start, and after some ramen headed back towards the atomic bomb dome to catch a boat straight to Miyajima to see the famous Itsukushima shrine.
We continued on towards the shrine, snapping pictures of the floating torii gate and marveling (as much as we could in our exhaustion) at the beauty of the shrine. We wandered through nearby temples and slowly made our way through Itsukushima. It was beautiful and, in spite of the throes of tourists, peaceful.
After making our way through the shrine we walked through the city streets of Miyajima, lined with tourist shops and restaurants. We tried too many different maple manju and had a steamed beef bun for dinner. As we headed back towards the ferries, and back towards the wild deer, I hadn’t quite finished a manju I was eating. When we emerged onto the main path to the ferry, we saw a deer snatch a pack of cigarettes from a man with a small dog, and attempt to eat them while being chased by the man. The deer finally dropped the cigarettes, I think in part thanks to the dog, and no sooner than this distraction ended did I realize other deer were bee-lining for me and my manju. I quickly shoved what was left in my mouth (although it was definitely more than a bite’s worth), forgetting I also had one in the side pocket of my backpack, not to mention the delicious trash I still had in my hand. One of the deer bit my bag and I quickly jerked away and walked as fast as my tired legs and still healing sprained ankle would allow (I think they sensed I was weak and injured.) I’m happy to report that I made it safely out of the deer’s clutches, backpack intact.
After a quick ferry ride back, followed by an eternal tram ride back into Hiroshima City (though all in all a fraction of the cost of the boat we took in), we made one last stop at Hiroshima-jō, the reconstructed Hiroshima Castle.
All in all it was a great trip, though tiring and draining in many ways, what I realized was part of the enjoyment was the ability to play tourist again. To visit such historic and beautiful sites was a reminder of how great it is to be here in Japan, and a welcomed break from constantly trying to understand what’s happening or worry about what unspoken cultural rule I may be breaking at any given moment. It was freeing in many ways, and left me excited for my next adventure in Japan (Kyoto in two weeks!!)