04 January 2012

Hiroshima/Miyajima Nov 2011 - Part I

Back in Nov 2011, hubby was supposed to go to Hiroshima on a work trip for one week. Since I've never been there before, decided to follow him. The plan was to reach two days earlier so that we could visit Miyajima 宮島, famous for the Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located at the northwest of Hiroshima Bay. I would then stay for another night before heading back home first. In short, it was a 4D3N trip for me which I thoroughly enjoyed! Regrettably I should have stayed for the duration of hubby's work trip but oh well...

Have written this travel journal in 6 parts as I took too many photos, or rather there were so many things to share :p
Part I -- Arrival in Hiroshima
Part II -- Miyajima - Street food, Momijidani Park
Part III -- Miyajima - Mount Misen, Momiji-So (Ryokan), Itsukushima Shrine, Otorii Gate
Part IV -- Miyajima - Momiji-So Dinner and Breakfast
Part V -- Hiroshima A-Bomb Site, Shopping
Part IV -- The shopping loot

We took a red-eye flight (ANA) on Sat past midnight and reached Tokyo (Narita) Airport about 8.30am. From there, we took the Airport Limousine Bus to Haneda (Domestic) Airport (cost 3000 yen) for our transit flight to Hiroshima at 12noon.

The Haneda Domestic Terminal is quite small with a handful of eateries and souvenir shops. We walked around the shops and were dazzled by the variety of bento available. The beauty about domestic flights in Japan, travellers could bring their own bento on board the flight, and beverage service (green tea, water, juice) is provided free-of-charge.

I bought this box of Beef Onigiri, which was supposedly exclusive to Haneda Airport. I think hubby bought some Ikura Onigiri.
The onigiri was yummy, with flavourful chewy Japanese rice and tiny bits of matsusaka beef. Well, can't expect big slices of the beef since one box only cost about 600 yen right?
The flight took about 1hr30mins and there we were, Hiroshima Airport. From Hiroshima, we took the Airport Limousine Bus (1000 yen) to the JR Hiroshima Station.

Our first night of stay was Hotel Kawashima, located 5 mins away from the JR Hiroshima Station.

Our twin room, though small was very well contained with all the necessary amenities. Booked through the Japan Welcome Inn Reservation Centre at 9500 yen a night, which is considered reasonable for Japanese standard, given its proximity to the train and tram station.

After washing up, we decided to go for a quick bite as we were famished (the onigiri we had on board the flight was not enough :p). As it was drizzling and cold, we thought a bowl of ramen would be nice to warm our stomach.
We found this Onomichi Ramen shop at Level 2 of ASSE at the JR Hiroshima Station. Onomichi Ramen is apparently a local specialty from Onomichi Town near Hiroshima.
What's peculiar in this soy-based ramen was the gobs of lard floating around the bowl. I didn't know what it was initially until I bite a piece of the lard. Pretty similar to our chinese deep fried pork lard added to Bar Chor Mee (minced pork noodle), except this was not deep-fried. For fear of cholesterol, I ate only that one piece :p To balance the oily pork lard, lots of finely chopped spring onions were added to the soup as well.
Hubby and I also shared a Tori Karaage (deep-fried chicken) which was fried to perfect crisp on the outside with tender juicy meat inside.

After the late lunch, we decided to explore downtown Hiroshima where the main shopping district is. We took the tram, known as Hiroden 広電 (operated by Hiroshima Electric Railway), which is the main mode of local public transportation in Hiroshima, other than public buses. I think Hiroshima is one of the few prefectures still using tram as its main mode of transportation (rather than subway). Nonetheless, the whole system is very efficient and easy to use, and I do like the nostalgic feel the trams add to the city.

The tram stations are located in the middle of the street with very narrow platforms.
Each tram consists of mostly 2-3 cars. Quite surprised that the trams were not overly crowded even during peak hours, unlike in Tokyo or Osaka.
We alighted at the station (Kamiya-cho) nearest to Hondori, the covered shopping street at downtown Hiroshima, which is 15-18 mins away from the JR Hiroshima Station.
This is similar to Shinsaibashi in Osaka, where rows of shops selling all kinds of merchandise flanked the entire street, and quite crowded as well.
We took our pace to window-shop, enjoying the cool weather and vibe of the town, before heading to Tokyu Hands, one of my favourite shops in Japan :p

After about 1.5hrs at Tokyu Hands, it was dinner time so we headed to this nearby eatery for dinner.
As usual, we had to buy meal tickets from a vending machine (with food photos) which I thought is a very convenient way of taking orders, no worries about language barrier.

Ordered this dinner set consisting of rice, miso soup and 6 dishes of braised pumpkin, grilled saba, deep-fried potato with asparagus, potato salad, braised pork belly and cold tofu. Couldn't remember what the hubby ordered already. Anyway, it was yummy!

By the time we were done, most shops were already closed (about 8-8.30pm). So we took the tram back to the JR Hiroshima Station, walked around the supermarket (close at around 9.30pm) for a while before going back to the hotel for a good night rest.

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