We had to get an early start as this was going to be a long day. We had decided early on in our planning to spend some time in Hiroshima. We went back and forth between staying in Hiroshima for a night or just taking a day trip via the Shinkansen. We ended up going the day trip route, which worked out very well for us, but meant that we had to get a pretty early train so that we could make it to our first destination of the day, the Mazda Museum. The museum is located on the outskirts of Hiroshima where Mazda's headquarters are located. They have a huge complex there and even run their own port for exporting vehicles.
We really wanted to go to the museum and tour as we thought it would be something that would really appeal to Tyler. We were worried that we were doing a lot of things that wouldn't be very interesting to him on the trip, so we made sure to have a few things that we knew he would enjoy. The tour is free, but you do have to email Mazda beforehand so that you have a spot on the tour. The English tour left at 10:00 and we got there with about 20 minutes to spare. The tour leaves from a showroom type entrance of one of the administrative buildings. We got on a bus for a short ride to the first location of the tour. They had a few cars which you could get into, so we took some pictures. Tyler thought it was cool to sit in the driver's seat on the wrong side of the car.
Trying out some new Mazdas
The tour then had a short video and we were off to look at some vintage Mazdas. They had a pretty large collection. Tyler loved the names of some of them, particularly the Bongo van.
The tour showed various parts of the cars and how they are constructed, like what makes them strong and energy efficient. They had a nice exhibit on their rotary engine technology that was pretty interesting as well. Then we got to see Mazda's 24 hours at Le Mans winning car. It was the first Japanese car to win the race.
Mazda's 24 hours at Le Mans Winning car
After this we got to go to the best part of the tour, the factory assembly line. We all really enjoyed seeing the robots and workers building cars. Unfortunately, you couldn't take any photos inside the assembly line area. Tyler thought it was really awesome and loved it. We were pretty glad we had a chance to take him here. One cool fact we learned is that they actually produce about 5 different cars on one line at a time. I always assumed that a line would produce 1 type of car continuously for a few days before being switched to something else. The tour guide said they found their workers were more productive with the variety, plus they were able to respond to changes in demand of different cars more quickly this way.
After the factory tour, we got to see some cool concept vehicles they had. This one had grooves on the roof which gathered and filtered rain water for the occupants to drink. It also looked like it had a fighter jet cockpit in it instead of a normal interior.
Futuristic Concept Car
They also had a couple of hydrogen powered cars. Most of them seemed to be dual fuel so they could run on regular gas or hydrogen. I'm not sure exactly how that works, but it is a pretty cool idea in case you aren't able to find hydrogen to refuel.
Hydrogen powered cars
We left the tour and headed back into downtown Hiroshima to find lunch. We thought it would be easy to find something quick, but we had to walk around for a very long time to find a restaurant we wanted to eat at. For some reason, there were stores all over, but not very many restaurants. We ended up at a Matsuya which is a gyudon chain and used their vending machine to place our order.
After lunch, we were headed to see the A-bomb dome and the peace park area. All morning it had been nice and sunny and warm out. As we exited the restaurant and started walking towards the peace park, we noticed it was now cloudy and overcast. It seemed a very appropriate atmosphere to see the A-bomb dome. The A-bomb dome was originally an exhibition hall before the bombing took place. It was one of the few buildings near the epicenter of the bomb that had any structure still left standing afterwards. It is hard to describe how I felt seeing it in person. It is one thing to read about it in a history book, but seeing the place in person was a whole other experience. It was also very difficult to describe to Tyler what had happened there and why we were visiting it. It is hard to describe the bombing and why it happened and what made it so horrible without giving him nightmares. There's a really good museum in the peace park, but it is supposed to be really graphic, so we avoided that and just walked around the A-bomb dome and park area.
They've done some structural work to make sure that it stays standing for future generations and you can catch glimpses of those supports in some of these pictures
A-bomb dome wreckage
We moved on past the A-bomb dome and strolled through the rest of the peace park area.
River through the peace park
We continued on to a memorial to the victims that were children.
Children's Peace Memorial
The memorial is surrounded by tons and tons of origami cranes. They are arranged in murals and hanging on strings all around the main sculpture. The cranes are dedicated to a girl that was folding 1,000 cranes to get her wish for world peace granted. She died of leukemia about 10 years after the bombing.
Paper cranes for world peace
Another one of the memorials in the peace park is the memorial Cenotaph which contains a listing of the names of all of the people killed in the bombing.
After the peace park, we headed to the island of Miyajima. To get there, you take the train to the south of Hiroshima and then a ferry to the island. There are two ferry companies and they run trips ever few minutes, so it doesn't take long to get there once you get to the ferry terminal.
Miyajima is famous for its giant orange torii gate that is in the tidal area off its coast. The gate appears to be floating in the water during high tide. We were there a little before high tide, so it was covered with water at its base, but more of the supports were showing than you would see at high tide.
We got off the ferry and walked towards the torii gate. You can get pretty close to it and it was pretty crowded with tourists despite the cloudy weather.
Miyajima floating torii gate
There are a couple of temples that you can go through if you want, but we decided to just walk around a little to see some of the buildings.
We decided to start heading back as it was getting to be late in the afternoon and it was also starting to sprinkle. We took the ferry back to the mainland. We hurriedly ran to a convenience store and picked up some things for dinner on the train. We only had a few minutes or we would have missed our train back to Hiroshima, so we just grabbed some things that looked ok and ran to the train station. It was about 30 minutes to Hiroshima station where we then caught the Shinkansen back to Osaka. The Shinkansen between Hiroshima and Osaka takes about an hour and a half and spends a lot of that time in tunnels. It was also the fastest we ever recorded on the train in Japan as we hit 187 mph at one point.
Overall, we had a good day, but we were glad we decided to make it just a day trip. There was just about the right amount of stuff for us to see and do in a day and since it was a day trip, we didn't have to bring our luggage with us. We even got back in time to make a run through the basement of the department store near our hotel. They had the best mini cream puffs, I sure miss those.
Continue to Day 9
Back to trip home