Hiroshima and Miyajima

Our previous visit to Hiroshima in 2012 was a single rainy day so we saw no more than the inside of the moving and informative Peace Museum. On that occasion we stayed overnight on the island of Miyajima but the packed nature of the itinerary left no time to linger in this calm and picturesque spot.

On this trip we had much more time to explore both Hiroshima and Miyajima, and were also blessed by some beautiful weather. Upon arrival at Hiroshima’s station by 300km/h Nozomi Shinkansen, there was both a feeling of comforting familiarity, but also a noticeably different atmosphere compared to Tokyo, for example the wider streets and shorter buildings means you see more sky.

Miyajima is a small island, a 10 minute ferry ride from the mainland. It is famed for the large torri gate on the beach, which marks the entrance to a substantial shrine complex that appears to float on the water at high tide. Aforementioned high tide was a little too early in the morning for our family of late sleepers in holiday mode, but it is still an impressive sight. The port area felt buzzy rather than busy (except when we crossed paths with a party of school children) but the enormous number of eateries made me glad we had come on a weekday rather than a weekend! I did also wonder, as it got progressively quieter throughout the afternoon, if there had been a big influx of people earlier in the morning for the high tide view and we were enjoying a more peaceful visit as a result of missing the set piece event.

Hakone: A volcanic break from Tokyo

Hakone is a pretty mountain town just 90 minutes on a train from Tokyo, making it an ideal weekend getaway destination for the denizens of this mega-city. There are numerous onsen resorts (naturally heated hot springs), powered by the volcanic activity, and a cable car that takes you right over the volcano crater from where they extract the hot water and then pump it around the region! The views at the top of the cable car are impressive, and we paid ¥100 to go into a little geo museum which was fantastic and very child-friendly.

Sadly, while on a clear day, there are opportunities to see Mount Fuji from the cable car and also from Lake Ashi, on the day we visited it was blanketed by a thick cloud.

Shanghai

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of making a short visit to Shanghai. It was a busy trip so my best photographs are from the plane. There was also an evening river cruise which allowed me to experience the city’s stunning modern skyline, as well as its historical European-style buildings.