After a couple of hours at Haneda airport our internal flight took us over Mt. Fuji, which we'd climbed on our previous visit - it was just peaking above the clouds. We also passed many tree-covered hills as we approached Hiroshima.
The weather wasn't too bad on our arrival - muggy and warm with quite a lot of cloud, but not pissing down with rain. The airport at Hiroshima isn't in town, so we had to take a long bus past endless bamboo-lined hills to the main terminal, from where we walked to our hotel, a little east of the Peace Park. We were a little early for check-in so dumped our backpacks and headed a few blocks north to Okonomimura, for our first Japanese meal - Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. I remembered this food experience fondly from my first trip - a huge pancake loaded with cabbage and noodles, some egg, lots of spring onions and any other toppings of your choice, all topped off with a tasty teriyaki-ish sauce, made right in front of you on a big teppan hot plate. The Okonomimura building is full of these small restaurants, some of which only opened in the evening, but we found one which had a group of guys eating in, so trusted it to be a good one. We weren't disappointed (although having tried an Osaka-style okonomiyaki in London a few weeks earlier decided we actually preferred the Osaka-style ones). It was pretty challenging to eat with chop-sticks.
It was rush-hour and we had to stand most of the way, but that probably helped us to stay awake - the jet-lag was beginning to creep in. Eventually the crowds thinned out, we got a seat, and it became a little more suburban before we got to the port. We saw our first dogs being walked - not a common sight, it seems, in Japan. There are two ferry companies and we were unsure of which one the ticket machines were for, but a local woman helped us to buy tickets. The ferry was about to leave so her intervention was well-timed and we just made the ferry (they leave pretty frequently, so it wouldn't have been the end of the world if we'd missed it). The ferry ride was quick, and we could see the massive orange torii gate in the distance getting bigger and bigger as we neared the mountainous island.
The sun was trying to peak through fairly dense clouds as we walked towards the gate, the pathways there dotted with tourists and fearless deer, not to mention vending machines (they are everywhere!).
On the tram back into the city I nodded off a few times, but managed to wake up at our stop, from where we wandered through the endless arched shopping area and a few side-streets looking for somewhere to have dinner. In spite of being a Monday night we passed a number of bars full of after-work drinkers (a common sight, it seems, in Japan!).
Click here for blog on Day 2 - Osaka