Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park — Atomic Bomb Dome | Japan Solo Travel 2017

April 22, 2017

Growing up a history buff, Hiroshima was the part of my solo travel that I looked most forward. I first learnt about Hiroshima when my primary school teacher introduced my class the story of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Immensely touched by Sadako's strong will to live, I vowed to visit Hiroshima some day. It took me 13 years, but I knew the wait was worth it the moment I laid my eyes on the A-Bomb Dome. It was surreal, very very surreal, to know that my dream came true — all because of my own hard work, no less.

Hiroshima was never in my itinerary and was an extremely last minute stop. My itinerary initially consisted of the mainstream tourist spots, going Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo. Making the last minute stop at Hiroshima meant I travelled back and forth Japan, and I was shot curious glances when I told people aout my itinerary but Hiroshima is worth it. So worth it.

7 hours on Willer Express from Kyoto to Hiroshima

Being my chatty self, I made friends with a backpacker from Paris and shared travel stories. I guess that's the best part about travelling solo — you open up easier compared to travelling with a companion. In turn, you tend to make more friends, often of different cultures.

By then, I was halfway through my solo travel and thoroughly exhausted. I removed my make up on the overnight bus and zonked out almost immediately. Tip 1: Bring make up removal wipes as they are much more compact to bring around. Or just abandon make up completely, which was what happened nearing the end of my travels.

Tip 2: if you're travelling on overnight buses like Willer Express, bring an eyemask so the lights switched on and off randomly throughout the bus ride will not affect your sleep. I had my earpiece on because I listened to music to sleep, but you might want to bring noise-cancelling earpugs.

My bus was originally scheduled to arrive at Hiroshima at 5:55am but as with Japan's efficiency, we arrived a little ahead of schedule, right before daybreak. Since my pick up point later that night was also going to be at Hiroshima South Exit, I took photos of my surrounding area in case I can't find that place at night.

Hiroshima Station South Exit (in front of 7-11 'Hiroshima matsubaracho-ten'), where Willer Express overnight buses stop

My phone was running out of battery at this point because I stupidly placed my travel adapter on the floor in Kyoto Station and walked away without it. Walked into a Seven Eleven expecting to find a travel adapter because have you visited Seven Elevens overseas? They have everything — except travel adapters and earrings.

By now, I learnt to show photos instead of hoping for someone who can understand English or Chinese. Unfortunately, the shopkeepers didn't recognise the travel adapter photos I found on Google for some reason, and I had a hard time explaining what I needed. I kept repeating, "Japan, Singapore, different. *plugging in socket hand gesture*"

A Japanese lady saw me strruggling at the counter and she was kind enough to download a translation app for me to type in what I wanted so she could give me directions! My heart :'))) Japanese are sooooo amazingly nice; they really go beyond everything to make sure you get the help you need even if it doesn't benefit them in any way. Thank you Japan, for reminding me what kindness is all about.

Bought cheese tart in 7-11 in case I got hungry

Because Hiroshima Station was under renovation, I sturggled with finding the lockers in a bit. The lockers located right opposite the taxi bay, near a police station.

I bought the 1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass for ¥840 (approx SGD $10.50) and it gives me access to all lines on the Electric Railway (Hiroshima's version of trains which gets you to virtually all the tourists spots), and Ferryboat from Miyajima-guchi to Miyajima and back.

Hiroshima was slightly different from Osaka and Kyoto — I bought my 1 Day Streetcar and Ferry Pass after boarding the Electric Railway, while you typically purchase your transport passes from the stations itself in other cities. The early hours probably contributed to this change as well; I read online that tourists usually can buy the 1 Day Streetcar Pass at Hiroshima Station Streetcar Information Desk (in front of the departure platform).

When all that was over and done with, I travelled on the Electric Railway to Genbaku-Domu Mae Station, and I found myself facing the A-Bomb Dome. It was glorious, magnificent and breathtaking... But my face wasn't. I darted into a toilet nearby to put on some make up because I looked exhausted — not that I expected any otherwise from a overnight bus ride. And that was when my earrings fell out again -___- Told myself to relax this time, and just enjoy Hiroshima first so that's what I did.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I re-approached A-Bomb Dome. I had to choke back tears every step I took. I was there. I was there. I was finally there! I gasped. I was conflicted and confused — was I crying because I had accomplished my childhood dream, or because I was standing right in front of a building with such rich history? Maybe a bit of both, but does it really matter at that point?

I took a short stroll around A-Bomb Dome, making sure I've taken in every bit of what it has to offer. The solemn atmosphere. That one action which changed history. The fact that I'm a Singaporean, how the fate of A-Bomb Dome — the death of thousands of mere Japanese — directly impacted the lives of my ancestors and in a way, me. It was intense and overwhelming, and I was glad I was there alone because no one in the world would have understood how much this meant to me.

Atomic Bomb Dome

1-10 Otemachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0051, Japan

Nearest Electric Railway Station
Genbaku-Domu Mae (原爆ドーム前) Station, tram line 2 or line 6

Opening Hours
Opened 24/7

Viewing Fee
Free (visitors are not allowed to enter the A-bomb Dome)

The photos and drawings in history textbooks can never compare to seeing this piece of history in person.

Reality of taking pictures while travelling solo: photobombed by strangers

I stopped to take some photos, and photos of all the signs around A-Bomb Dome so I could show my mom back home. Then I caught a rising yolk at the corner of my eyes. Sunrise!

I took so long in the toilet, struggling with my piercing, that I thought I missed the sunrise in Japan again but Hiroshima surprised me by being the first Japanese city I managed to witness a sunset in. I always knew Hiroshima was magical :')

Sunset along Aioi Bridge


Japan Solo Travel (January 2017)

Tokyo Summary and Getting Around Tokyo | Tokyo Imano Hostel Review | Tokyo Pokemon Centre & Shibuya Crossing | Tokyo Lockers and Shinjuku Gyoen Garden | Tokyo Harajuku (Shopping, Food, Daiso) | Tokyo bills Omotesando (Tokyu Plaza)

Hakone One Day Itinerary | Hakone Tozan Railway and Cable Car | Seeing Mt Fuji at Owakudani | Hakone Ropeway and Sightseeing Cruise | Trekking to see Hakone Shrine and Mt Fuji

9 Hours Narita Capsule Hotel Review | Tokyo Narita Airport

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