I was so entranced by this mystical world that I lost track of time and before I knew it, over three hours had passed.
If you've been following my journey from the beginning, then you can probably tell that I'm not the type to opt for the "relaxing vacation." I'm the type who loves to be outdoors and adventuring as much as possible. I just can't sit still.
However, on this day in Hiroshima I decided to take it relatively easy. I started my morning with a complimentary breakfast and coffee from my hotel. It was by no means a feast, but the sandwich and yogurt were enough to set me on my way.
I followed Google Maps and walked about 30-40 minutes to Hiroshima Castle. Unfortunately, the outside was under construction so it wasn't as aesthetically pleasing as Osaka Castle. I did get to go inside and I took my time looking at the artifacts and reading about the castle's history.
After making my way to the top of the castle and experiencing a beautiful view of the city, I descended and walked around the grounds for a bit.
On the castle grounds I found local painters, families having picnics, and yoga classes taking place. I love to explore castle grounds and parks because I get to witness little slices of life of the Japanese locals.
After spending about an hour at Hiroshima Castle, I went back on Google Maps to check out what else I could see in the area. One of the top searches that came up was Shukkeien Garden; if I haven't made it clear yet...I love Japanese Gardens.
It was another half hour walk or so to reach Shukkeien Garden but it was well worth the walk. I paid a small entrance fee at the gate and was given a pamphlet with a map of the grounds. It was way bigger than I expected it to be!
Shukkeien Garden was, so far, the most beautiful garden I'd ever visited in Japan. To say the garden was beautiful and serene is a vast understatement. It had the expected red bridges, gazebos, koi pond and flowers, but somehow it was special. The garden was full of life and nature and incredibly, the sounds of the city completely disappeared and were replaced with the sounds of running water and birds tweeting.
It was almost as if the entrance of the garden was the entrance to a mystical Ghibli world. I was so entranced by this world that I lost track of time and before I knew it, over three hours had passed.
As I reached the exit, I saw there was a small shop serving traditional meals. And, realizing that it was about 4pm and all I'd eaten was a small sandwich and yogurt, I decided to check it out.
I ended up ordering a lunch of: niku udon (udon with meat), an Isobeyaki (a grilled rice cake wrapped in nori), ocha (Japanese tea) and a mango smoothie. As shown below.
The lunch was absolutely delicious! And eating it outside in the serenity of Shikkeien Garden made it that much better.
After that, I walked back to my hotel and decided to rest my achy legs with a hot bath. And then, to finish off the day, I sat along the canal and ordered my favorite Japanese drink: a sparkling, iced umeshu (plum wine). I called it an early night and went to bed by 8pm so that I could wake up early the next morning and set out for another adventure!
End note: Just in case you're wondering what hotel I stayed in after my hostel fiasco, it was Hotel Flex. I am in no way sponsored to share this with you, I just loved the hotel and will be going back in the future. If you don't mind some walking, it's in the perfect location to see the Atomic Bomb dome, Hiroshima Castle, Shukkeien Garden, and just a few minute walk from the train station that can take you to Miyajima Island. It also has a beautiful outside seating area where you can have dinner on the canal and includes a small, complimentary breakfast. The room wasn't the biggest ever, but you only need it for sleeping anyway!
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See you soon!