On the way to Okayama Castle.
The gate at Miyajima.
Today's Tim Quote:
- ... nice purse.
So, we're about half-way through our trip at this point and today was probably the busiest day we've had so far. It was a beautiful morning, which was a relief since the weather had been so terrible the day before. We were a little late checking out of our hotel, but once everyone was finally ready we dropped our bags off in some coin lockers at the station and grabbed some breakfast at Mister Donut. After some delicious coffee and donuts, we headed off to Okayama castle. It was nice walk and I kind of wished I had left my jacket in the locker with my bag since it was so nice and warm. Okayama castle was very nice and very peaceful. Not as impressive as Osaka castle, though. We then wandered around the castle area to kill some time. We were going to check out the castle garden, but we had to pay an admission, so we decided to head back to the station.
We got our bags and our tickets and then just waited around for the next 40 minutes until the train arrived. Tim and Patrick went back to Bic Camera, but I just waited at the station. It was already quite warm and lugging my backpack around a department store did not seem appealing. Once the train arrived, it was only a short 30 minute trip before we were in Hiroshima. We stopped by the information stand at the station to find out the exact location of the next hostel we were to be staying in. Even with a map and directions, it was still a little difficult to find. We weren't the only ones having trouble locating it, though, as we ran into a fellow traveler looking for the same hostel. He asked me in Japanese if I was looking for the hostel and I told him yes. I introduced myself and he told me his name was Aaron and that he was from Chicago. After turning down the next street, we found the hostel and got settled in. Since we didn't have any real plans, we decided to meet Aaron in the lobby in 15 minutes.
Fifteen minutes later, we were headed into the heart of Hiroshima looking for a place to eat okinamiyaki. If you're wondering what okinamiyaki is, it's kind of like a pancake. It's made with green noodles, green onions, bean sprouts, some kind of meat, and batter. It's all fried and pressed into kind of a pancake and then covered with oyster sauce. It is absolutely delicious! Without a doubt, it was the most satisfying meal I've eaten since coming to Japan. Our bellies now full, we left the restaurant to find a live band playing in the square across the road. It was pretty cool. They looked to be high school age, playing ska/punk style music. We then explored the shopping arcade in the area. It wasn't long before Tim found a Taito arcade. We spent a short time here, and then Aaron mentioned going to Miyajima to see the Gate and shrine at sunset. With nothing else to do, we all decided to go and see if we could make it before sunset.
It was about 20 minutes on the local JR train to Miyajima. Once there, we had to take the ferry to the island. The sun was just beginning to set and the view was beautiful. I probably took more photos today than in the entire trip combined so far. Since it was getting late, we didn't end up having time to visit the shrine. We did get to see the gate, though, and took a lot of picutres. We then explored a bit of the surrounding village before catching the ferry back to the shore. Once back in Hiroshima, we getting pretty hungry, and Patrick was craving ramen. Aaron asked a group of high school kids at the station if they knew a good ramen place in the area. They asked if we wanted good ramen and then proceeded to tell us that there were no REALLY good ramen places to eat in the area, but they showed us the best one. It was in a food court at the top of this department store. It wasn't bad, but certainly not great.
The day was very long and exhausting. There's so much more I want to write about, but I just don't have the energy right now. I ended up taking over 100 photos yesterday, but I can't upload to Flikr since I've already exceeded my monthly limit.