September 16, 2015

Japan - Hiroshima : Garden City without the Stress of Tokyo

SG Unfit Runners have been planning to go back to Japan ever since our last trip made in 2009, when we did an ambitious whirlwind tour covering 7 cities within 2 weeks. This time round, we were determined to explore more of the underbelly of Japan, covering Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka and Tokyo, over a period of 17 days. Our first stop: Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is a place which I am sure everybody will be familiar with. It is the city where the first atomic weapon was unleashed on a populated area. A thriving metropolis and port on the western side of Japan, Hiroshima has almost everything that Tokyo has to offer, but with a lot less crowd. There is little jostling or squeezing even during peak hours in the city, well connected local rail and tram network and it has its fair share of local cuisine that made many of my facebook friends drool with envy when I posted pictures of its famous oyster dishes.

We stayed at the Hondori area, right smack in the middle of Hiroshima downtown shopping district with some of the Hiroshima’s most important landmark within walking/running distance. We pack in so many activities during our 3 days stay at Hiroshima, that we ran out of time before having the chance to visit Hiroshima Castle and the Hiroshima Atomic Peace Memorial Park. We decided to incorporate those 2 areas, which require quite a bit of walking, into our running route, so that we will have more time later in the day to visit the Hiroshima Peace Museum and catching a Shinkensen to get to Kobe later in the morning. 

Running in Hiroshima is extremely pleasant, especially during the early morning hours when the traffic is pretty thin. The only risk is trying to cross major traffic junctions through the maze of underground tunnel and getting hopelessly lost trying to find the right exit just to get to the other side of the junction. I will recommend runners to jog a bit further down the road to find a traffic light rather than attempting to navigate the underground maze of tunnels.
The Underground Maze

A-Bomb Dome
Children Peace Memorial
Thousand Paper Cranes
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A-bomb Museum
The Heiwakinen Park, or Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is situated at a fork of 2 river and is around 2km in circumference. Crammed within this small strip of greenery, there are numerous memorials and museums. Among these sites, the most famous of them all is the A-bomb dome, one of the few structurally intact buildings that survived the blast of the atomic bomb. 

Other interesting sights includes the Statue of the A-Bomb children, to commiserate the tragedy of children like the Sadako, who died due the radiation from A-Bomb and reignited the legend of the thousand paper cranes.

Linked by an underground tunnel to the north is the central park of Hiroshima where many of the sports facilities are located and the park grounds of the reconstructed Hiroshima Castle. The original Hiroshima castle was destroyed during WWII by the blast of the A bomb and only the foundation of the castle was left. The current castle was reconstructed in 1958 and it’s vantage place on top of the hill in the middle of Hiroshima makes the area a delight to run around. However, be warned that you will have to navigate a serious of stairs in order to get to the very top!

Park grounds of Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima Castle reconstructed
Overall, Hiroshima is both a pleasant place to visit and to run, with it’s numerous rivers and parks. It is like Tokyo without the stress, with great food and great shopping. There are certain well sought after items which we could find in Hiroshima and came to regret not purchasing after leaving for Osaka and Tokyo.   


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