Japanese Cherry Blossom Season! Part 3: Osaka, Himeji & Hiroshima

What can I say about Osaka, Himeji and Hiroshima? Delicious, historic, beautiful and significant. I was greeted with more amazing blossoms, but as I headed West the trip became shorter and more focused on squeezing in a few of the historical highlights before I headed home. The most significant being Hiroshima, the target site of the first nuclear bomb ever used in war.

I’ve decided that I will have a blog post dedicated purely to my travels involving both world wars because I realized that I have now seen some of the most significant world war sites you can possibly see. If you follow my blog, you know that this is due to my National Park obsession. What an unexpected blessing the National Park system has been to me and my life! Never would I have thought I’d see such important places. Stay tuned for that post…

For now, I’ll share a few of the moments spent in Hiroshima as I wrapped up my Cherry Blossom Grand Tour of Japan.  But first we’ll start with Osaka.

Osaka turned out to be a bit of disappointment for me. Disappointing because I barely got to see any of it! I had big plans to see and explore Osaka Castle, watch a Japanese Kabuki performance, eat my way through Dotonbori and possibly even check out the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at their Universal Studios park (Harry Potter nerd alert). BUT, I caught a bug and ended up with a fever. I had to lay low for a couple days.

The pre-cancer Carla would have taken some asprin and pushed through it. Now, even a slight fever is dangerous for me. I spent a good amount of time praying whatever I caught was not serious and would pass soon, as well as calculating how expensive a next-day flight home would cost me. And would they even let me go home? They have infrared body temperature scanners at the airports!

I am undergoing cancer treatment and the particular treatment I’m on can lower white blood counts to a dangerous level. This condition is called neutropenia and I’ve had my brush with it already, during chemo when my white blood count went down to nearly zero and I caught a high fever simply from the normal gut bacteria in my body. A multi-day hospital stay in a foreign country all by myself is not something I wanted to add to my checklist.

Thankfully the fever passed and I felt normal again the next day. As I had to slow things down a bit, I treated myself to a 10am wake up alarm and a fancy breakfast with a view. I highly recommend the Osaka Marriott Miyako for your dining with a view moment!

 

Mariott Breakfast

That was the extent of what I got to see in Osaka. On to Himeji. For me, Himeji was a quick visit as there was not a whole lot to see for regular tourists compared to some of my other stops, but what I did see was absolutely spectacular! They call Himeji Castle the “White Heron Castle” due to its elegant white exterior. Framed by cherry blossom trees on a sunny, mostly clear day… it was jaw-dropping. However, there was not much to see inside. A lot of climbing on cold floors without shoes on, so plan for that.

Himeji Castle Peek-a-boo Blossoms

Himeji Castle 4

Himeji Cherry Blossom View

Himeji Castle 2

And the winner for cutest kimono is…

Kimono Girl

After my quick stop in Himeji, I hopped on the bullet train to Hiroshima. The last stop of the trip. Hiroshima is infamous for being the target of the first-ever nuclear bomb used in war. It was so surreal to stand there and take in the fact that this place was decimated over 7 decades ago by a nuclear BOMB. Now it is a bustling city with over a million residents.

View of Hiroshima.jpeg

The main attractions here include the Atomic Bomb Dome (historical remains of the atomic blast) and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. I thought the museum was incredible. The documentation was powerful, sobering and an important memorial to those that were affected. And the overall message? Even more important. NO MORE HIROSHIMAS.

Atomic Bomb Dome

Peace Memorial Park 1

Peace Memorial Park 2

A bit of a day trip just outside the city is a must-see stop if you can spare the time – Itsukushima Shrine.

Itsukushima Torii Gate 2

Does it look familiar? You bet it does! It’s the floating Torii gate at Epcot! I wanted to see this someday and my wish came true.

Epcot Torii Gate

Itsukushima Shrine is located on Miyajima Island, not far from Hiroshima. According to Shinto beliefs, the floating torii gate is the boundary between human and spirit worlds. What’s neat about this torii gate is that during high tide it looks like it is floating on water.

Itsukushima Torii Gate 3

The entire trip to Miyajima is fun, including the ferry ride over to the island. It is very scenic, lots of restaurants and shops and there is deer! Lots of deer. Hungry deer. AGGRESSIVE deer. Be careful.

Miyajima was the last stop for Hiroshima and I was able to finish all sights in a day and head on out, back to Tokyo and back to reality.

I had just spent 10 incredible days seeing a top bucket list destination and a once-in-a-lifetime botanical opportunity. This was also my first international solo trip which was quite the experience and not at all scary. Japan is a fantastic destination for female solo travelers too. The people are friendly, you feel safe and getting around was a breeze thanks to the prevalence of English signage. This trip was an absolute dream and I am so grateful to God for this opportunity.

If you didn’t get a chance to read my prior posts about Japan, please check them out: Tokyo was so much fun, Kyoto was stunning and both Tokyo Disney and Tokyo DisneySea were some of the best Disney parks in the world.

 

– The Time Traveler

 

 

 

 

 

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