A Travellerspoint blog

A tale of two cities

Ninjas, bamboo and nuclear weapons


The last two days have been jam packed with activities in Kyoto and Hiroshima, so as our blogs have been trending towards the long we will endeavour to keep this one short and sweet. Yesterday we rose early with the sun to meet up with a small group of us who had decided to see the same things that day. We caught the train using our Japan Rail passes and arrived at the Fushimi Inari Shrine that is famous for the eight thousand gates that line its walkways. We arrived and after looking around the shrine we found the walkways and walked along with amazement at the passage that was created by the thousands of wooden gates to our sides and over our heads. We had just begun to take some photos of the place when our camera did the dirty on us and died leaving us stranded with no means of recording bar our memories. Luckily for us everyone in the group offered us the use of their cameras for snaps and so thankfully we still have photos to see as below.


We then headed back to Kyoto station where we left the group as they transferred to another train and we went and charged the camera and managed to shovel a quick breakfast into our stomachs. We then headed back to the train station armed with our freshly charged camera and set about making the most of the sights of Kyoto. We first decided to follow another of Keiko’s recommendations and go to the Nijo (ninja) temple. There we bumped into the group we’d left just as they were departing the castle. They said it was amazing and they weren’t lying. It was great; the gardens were tranquil and peaceful and the castle was full of interesting information on how Shogun lords lived and entertained in feudal Japan. The floor was a particular attraction for us. Bit weird you may say, but no, it squeaked wherever you trod. This was fully by design and was the Shogun’s burglar alarm warning him of anyone approaching. Sadly we left the squeaking behind and again shovelled down some more food before heading on to yet another of Keiko’s recommendations (well she is a tour guide after all), the bamboo forests.

The forests provided a lovely short walk through the tall bamboo grasses and it was a little surreal being surrounded by all the green that was almost blocking out the sun. We also got to see a couple of rickshaws which were interesting. Alex did also experience a severe trauma at this point continuing his theme of being attacked by an animal in every country we have so far been in. Rach all of a sudden looked at him in fright and he realised that there was a large insect flying behind his head. In a sudden spasm he swatted at the insect bashing it into the back of his head. Unluckily for him it turned out that it was a stinging insect and a painful one at that so he spent the next few minutes of the walk clutching at the back of his head. Rach was in tears by this point but were they tears of worry and solicitude, no they were tears of laughter as she somehow managed to find some modicum of sadistic merriment in the situation, particularly as he had frightened some poor Japanese near us by shouting like a mad man.


After allowing time for Alex to recover from his wound we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep before catching the bullet train to Hiroshima. The bullet trains are amazing here; three hundred kilometres per hour and on the inside you wouldn’t have a clue. We arrived in Hiroshima to find the rain awaiting us. Luckily today was our only museum day so we would spend most of it indoors. After a quick mission through the rain for the two of us, and beating the others who took the tram, we rejoined the group to see the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Museum. The Dome is one of the few remaining structures from the aftermath of the blast and its skeleton is a poignant reminder of how powerful weapons have become. The museum itself was really interesting and educated us as to the history of Japan in the war, the lead up to the bomb drop on both the American and Japanese sides, the blast itself in Hiroshima, the aftermath, the ongoing damage and also had information about nuclear weapons worldwide and what the world is doing about them today.


It was a brilliant place to visit, incredibly sad and haunting, and is one of the busiest museums either of us has visited. A bigger demonstration as to the dangers of war and the havoc that man can now wreak at the push of a button could not be imagined. We were so engaged that we were there up until closing and so after a short walk back to the hotel are now ready for bed.

Rex’s Rules of the Road

  • Japan rail passes are a great way to get around cheaply and can be used on local trains as all trains are run by JR. Sadly though it cannot be used on buses or subway so expect a little bit of walking to get to your destination.
  • We have tried so hard to steer clear of directly telling people what to do, it’s a free world after all. However should you find yourself in Hiroshima the Peace Museum is an absolute must.
  • If you are on a tour and on a tight budget like us remember you can say no to eating out and instead get supermarket fare. It will still be interesting as unless you know Japanese you won’t have a clue as to what you’re eating until it passes your lips.

Posted by rexontheroad 21:28 Archived in Japan

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