I never really saw the appeal of solo travelling before this summer. Travelling to another place I always wanted someone else to experience it with, a companion to explore and have adventures with. Travelling alone always seemed… lonely? But partly out of circumstance and partly from choice, I wound up spending the day alone in Hiroshima. Coupled with the solemnity of its history, I think visiting Hiroshima alone is the perfect way to experience the city, or at least it’s landmarks and museums.
Navigation wise, it’s pretty easy to get around. From the train station, there’s a tourist bus you can catch taking you to each point in the city. For Japan Rail Pass holders, this is free to use! I stopped off at the Atom Bomb Dome first, and it really is quite surreal to see it in person. Standing silently against the city, it’s an eerie reminder of Hiroshima’s history with the atomic bomb and as many others have described, a powerful reminder of the destruction created by humans. From here, I walked (5 minutes) to the Peace Memorial Museum, where it must have been national school-trip day with all the school children there! I was surprised to see so many, most of them were primary school aged, packed into the museum clutching worksheets to fill in. I found it particularly amusing to see the earnestness of the children against the really quite horrifying aspects of the museum. There were literally wax figures of children with melting skin on display with Japanese school-children diligently scribbling down notes like no big deal. The Peace Memorial Museum itself was very engaging nonetheless; facts were interweaved with personal stories making for a very poignant visit.
After, I mistakenly wandered into a very expensive restaurant on a search for food, ended up just buying an ice-coffee (560 yen, T-T) and leaving. Rather than getting on the bus again, I walked to Hiroshima Castle (20 minutes), which was very lovely to stroll around and purchased a soft-serve green tea ice-cream in place of lunch. Hey, I’m alone, I can eat what and when I want! Walking around a little more, I found that a lot of places had early closing times (~5.30/6.00pm) so wandered back to the main area of town looking for somewhere (affordable) to eat. Finding a restaurant, I ordered a set meal consisting of mackerel, rice, miso soup, pickled vegetables and two other side dishes – so delicious! Where normally eating alone makes me a little self-conscious, I really quite enjoyed dining alone in Japan! A lot of people do it, so it’s not something that would seem strange and is really quite pleasant – I recommend you do this at least once in your life! On my way back to the train station there was a spectacular sunset, closing both my day in Hiroshima and my first experience as a solo traveller perfectly!