Three weekends ago, ya girl went to Hiroshima.
Hiroshima had been on my Japan travel bucket list for several reasons, chief among them history, okonomiyaki, and bunnies, but squeezing in trips outside of Tokyo within a 2-day timeframe was a challenge like any other.
Saturday brought about too much rain for my flimsy $2 drugstore umbrella to handle. Between visiting Miyajima Island versus Okunoshima Island (Rabbit Island), the latter seemed like a better option in the rain.
I took the Shinkansen from the Hiroshima station to Mihara, switched to the JR Kure line from Mihara to Tadanoumi, walked a few minutes to the terminal at Tadanoumi Port, and then boarded the ferry for a 15-minute boat ride to Okunoshima. If I choose not to include the amount of time waiting for the hourly trains during the transfers, it took a little over an hour. However, door-to-door, I’m looking at over two hours of long transfers and hoping that my phone and external battery would last me the better part of the day (thankfully, it did). But hey, I used to commute 90 minutes each way to-and-from work, so I should have been used to it, right?
Anyway, work may have given me many perks and benefits, but work has never graced me with the presence of hundreds of cute bunnies.
Okunoshima Island is a small island off the coast of Hiroshima that is host to hundreds of feral rabbits. (Mind you, these cuties are absolutely tame and the exact opposite of what feral implies.) The exact origin story of how the bunnies populated the island is shrouded in vagueness, but either way, bunnies have taken over Okunoshima so much so that one step onto the island and you will be approached by a colony of rabbits.
After feeling peckish, I ventured back into Hiroshima before the sunset. Dinner that night was at Koshida, where they serve my favorite food: okonomiyaki.
Okonomiyaki — besides having the incredibly distinct honor of being MY FAVORITE FOOD — is a savory pancake, often made of eggs, flour, cabbage, and meat, and topped liberally with bonito flakes, an okonomiyaki sauce not unlike Worcestershire sauce, seaweed flakes, and Japanese mayonnaise. Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, however, is a slightly different beast, as:
(1) the ingredients are mixed
(2) there are more layers of cabbage that uncooked okonomiyaki resembles a literal cabbage patch
(3) they cook it with noodles
THEY. COOK IT. WITH. NOODLES. The only thing that could make a savory pancake even better? MORE CARBS!
It goes without saying that I scarfed this bad boy down within minutes.
While it may seem that my culinary adventures in Hiroshima would be over after having peaked at okonomiyaki, Hiroshima is actually rife with really good food options. The next day had a pretty decent weather forecast, so I finally made it to Miyajima Island, an island known for its forests, temples, and Great Torii Gate. While I witnessed and appreciated all three things, the first thing I did as soon as I got off the ferry was eat oysters.
Protip #1-#1.5: Hiroshima is well-known for their oysters. So much so that Glico makes Hiroshima-oyster-flavored Pretz, which is good, but I’d still recommend eating the real thing over the Pretzed-up version.
Protip #2: Kakiya grills some damn good oysters.
Hiroshima, or rather Miyajima Island, is known for momiji manju, a red bean cake shaped like a maple-leaf. In fact, these cute little cakes are so well known and synonymous with Hiroshima that the Kit-Kat regional flavor is a momiji manju.
While tourists (and deer — see above) normally overpopulate the main street of Miyajima, the number of people dwindled by the time I hiked the upward ascent to Miyajima’s peaks. You’ll find that the island itself is a juxtaposition of verdant forest and the blue ocean tides that surround it, should you choose to venture ahigh.
The rest of the day was a quiet afternoon spent at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park. A sobering testament to the city’s past, the park is home to the two Peace Bridges, the Peace Memorial Museum, the Memorial Cenotaph, and the ruins of the former Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Promotion Hall.