In the second installment our Japan series, I'll be sharing about several day trips out to the following cities: Nara, Hiroshima, and Itsukushima (Miyajima). As mentioned in our previous post in Kyoto, Kyoto was our central location and lodging for 5-6 days as we explored different cities that were within 1-2 hours from our destinations. This was only made possible with the efficient transportation system in Japan, and having the 14 day JR pass was a must! We were pleasantly surprised how much money we saved, since we actually stayed for 10 days in Japan, yet we saved more than 50% of transportation costs with the pass. Here are some of the places we explored and recommend for your future trip to these cities!
One surprising thing I noticed about my husband was how excited he was to visit all the animal parks and cafes in Japan. Nara Park was no exception since it is known for the vast number of deer. They are certainly not timid in approaching people, hoping visitors have a treat to offer. The park is quite vast, and the city overall is worth a day to explore its rich history since it was the first permanent capital of Japan.
This iconic torii gate is known to be one of the most popular attractions and was ranked as one of Japan's three best views. My husband and I originally intended to visit during our first trip to Japan, so we were excited that we were able to this time around. Itsukushima is an island located less than an hour away from Hiroshima, and makes for a great half day trip. Despite the larger crowd in the afternoon, there is a spot for everyone to enjoy this breathtaking view.
Since my husband and I wanted to see the torii gate during the high tide, we decided to make the hike up to Mount Misen. We took the Momijidani course, which became quite an adventure since the hike was relatively steep and filled with stairs. However, it was well worth the trek since the summit offered a spectacular view of the Seto Inland Sea.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial
A place not to be missed in Hiroshima. The area is noticeably distinct from the downtown area with spacious walking areas filled with trees and lawns, and the A-Bomb Dome served as a tangible reminder of the devastating past. The museum is highly recommended, and was both informative yet heart-wrenching to learn how events following the atomic bomb shaped the country's people and those who remained.
A petite garden in Hiroshima where we met a fellow photographer, Nari, who was also appreciating the budding cherry blossoms! We enjoyed the little path along the park where one can enjoy many mini vignettes of traditional aesthetics. It is also a popular location for evening sakura hanami.
This restaurant was recommended by Nari as an ideal location for Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. Most people might be familiar with the Osaka-style, and what's unique about Hiroshima is the base of the savory pancake is a thin crepe that is then layered with different ingredients, such as cabbage and agedama. It is then finished with a generous mound of yakisoba noodles, pork belly, and egg. After hiking more than ten miles, this dinner definitely hit the spot!