PhoTophe

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Photography has changed the way I see the world around me.

Through it I discover new things and rediscover old ones. Like my island, New Caledonia.

This blog is just me sharing my world through my photography.

Hope you enjoy.

ARASHIYAMA MONKEY PARK IWATAYAMA

Kyoto, Japan

Lovely entrance to the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama. I had a bit of apprehension coming here, having thoughts of mistreated monkeys in cages. I couldn’t have been further from the truth though. A nice, easy going walk climbs through the forest to a small, open platform. Here, dozens of adult and baby monkeys roam around freely. There are also quite a number of supervisors to prevent the monkeys from fighting or being too aggressive with tourists. They also feed then some kind of nut, the moneys seem to love it. There’s a shop with a caged off area where you can buy bags of nuts to feed the monkeys and, tables and chairs if you need to rest. Just to be clear, the caged area is for us, the humans, and not the monkeys. The monkeys approach from outside. It’s to prevent the them from snatching food and possibly hurting someone by accident. And prevents us from throwing food at them and making a mess outside.

Check out one of my previous posts to see a baby human in a cage and a baby monkey outside. This is a lovely place and worth visiting. It’s not too far from shops, restaurants, boutiques and a bamboo forest. Lovely little area.

28 mm, 1/160th second @ f/11, ISO 2000

HIROSE

Kyoto, Japan

A very early start meant no breakfast before arriving at our destination, Saga-Arashiyama Station. We were visiting the Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama and Bamboo Forest this morning and now that we’d arrived in town, it was time for breakfast. Being hungry and the lack of coffee didn’t help with the frustration of seeing most places still closed.

Until we came across Hirose. Small, cosy, very affordable and wonderful atmosphere. Literally a mom & pop coffee shop. Most likely a couple, the old man takes care of the hot beverages and food while the old lady handles the cold beverages, the service and cash register. They’re very friendly and like to converse with customers. They serve very good coffee and the cinnamon toast is delicious. So much so, we had seconds.

As you can see, I loved the gorgeous sometsuke (blue and white pottery) cup and saucer so much I had to photograph it. Though, I wish I had opened my aperture by a stop or so, to get a slightly wider depth of field. I would’ve liked a little more of the image on the saucer in focus. Still love the photo and it will always remind me of this amazing little coffee shop, Hirose.

40 mm, 1/80th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 500

KOBE, YAMAZAKI AND KYOTO

Japan

day four

First of all, I’d like to apologise in advance for the lack of video of the Yamazaki Distillery and the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine. I was pretty sure I had recorded something but I couldn’t find the clips. And now I’m uncertain if I deleted them by accident or if I never took any in the first place. In any case, I’m very disappointed with myself. I added photos instead to help tell the story. Hope you enjoy the video.

After an uneventful sunrise, I went for a stroll around the Meriken Park looking for something to photograph. Lucky I took a shot of our hotel, we have no souvenir of our room. I also photographed the Starbucks with the Port Of Kobe Tower just behind it, before heading back to the room. We packed up a little, once Géraldine was up, then headed out for breakfast. It was still too early for places to be open so we wandered around the Meriken Park and the Mosaic before heading back to Starbucks for breakfast. Once our stomachs were full, we finished packing our stuff at the hotel, checked out and caught the hotel bus to Shin-Kobe Station.

At the station, we put our luggages in storage before making our way to the Nunobiki Ropeway. The cable cars took us to the top of the Nunobiki Herb Gardens. Magnificent views, on the way up, of the gardens and Kobe city. A beautiful building at the top with stalls, boutiques, a cafe and lots of flowers. We took the walking path to get back down which gave us the opportunity to check out the Nunobiki Falls - Ontaki and more views of the city. It’s also a beautiful forest walk.

The Yamazaki Distillery was our next visit for the day. It doesn’t look like much from the outside and we didn’t do a tour of the distillery itself but visited the museum and whisky tasted. The museum is very interesting, informative and quite amazing. Even Géraldine, who isn’t a whisky drinker, loved the museum. In the main hall and at the end of the museum, you’ll find a bar arranged in a circle. Here you choose the whiskies you’d like to test from a menu. I was surprised when I saw the Hakushu and Hibiki on the list. My choice was the most expensive whiskies on the menu. My favourite, the 25 year old Hakushu Single Malt Whisky.

We end the day back in Kyoto. We’re here for two nights. On full day. Once we checked in our tiny hotel and relaxed for a few minutes, we went to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shinto Shrine. Didn’t realise there was going to be so many people there. I thought most would visit in the day and not so much at sunset. This place is amazing. Beautiful. I was able to get a few photos with very little to no-one in them. We were too tired to walk the senbontorii (thousand torii) all round the mountain but did a small portion which showed small, medium and large torii. They’re stunning to see. And so are the shrines. Small and large alike.

So, all these places, the Nunobiki Herb Gardens, the Yamazaki Distillery and the Fushimi Inari Taisha should be on your to-do list when visiting Japan. If your a photographer, you’d probably want to visit the herb garden and Shinto shrine at sunset. All worth a visit but give yourself a few hours to, not only, see it all but to really appreciate your surroundings.

That’s it for day four of our little trip in Japan. Day five brings a very busy day of visits. Oyasuminasai my friends.

FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE NAIHAIDEN

Kyoto, Japan

As I mentioned in my last post, we visited the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine just before sunset. This is one of, if not, the main shrine. Stunningly beautiful, like most of the large shrines here. Worshipers would make their way up the stairs to one of the bells and say a prayer before pulling on the rope to ringing it.

There were still a lot of people around, when we arrived, and to get a shot void of them, for this image, was very difficult. So we decided to wander around and visit the senbontorii (thousand torii) first. Check out a previous blog post for a peak inside the tunnel. It was blue hour when we came back and there were a lot less people. After setting up my gear, it was just a matter of patience and timing before I capture this photo. The 10 second exposure helped eliminate the occasional person walking through the frame. I love this photo. I did take another front on but I didn’t have a wide enough lens nor the distance to include the fox guardians in the frame. I guess I’ll have to invest in some more gear.

28 mm, 10 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

FUSHIMI INARI SHINTO SHRINE

Kyoto, Japan

After the Yamazaki Distillery visit, we headed back to Kyoto for two nights, one full day. We arrived late afternoon and once settled in our room, we made our way straight here, to the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine.

We arrived just as the sun was setting and there were still hundreds of visitors around. This shot was taken as we were leaving. To the eye, blue hour had gone but not to the camera sensor. I bracketed four different exposures and merged them in Lightroom. Very happy with the result. This is not a unique photo but it’s my photo.

This shinto shrine is spectacular. This is the main entrance to many shrines, small to large, and to the senbontorii or thousand torii. Everything is beautiful here, from the architecture to the decorations and everything in-between. It’s one of the places you have to visit while in Kyoto. Give yourself some time though, there’s quite a large area to cover. Oh and talking about senbontorii, check out my blog post where I photographed my friend, Géraldine, inside the tunnel.

28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

YAMAZAKI WHISKY

Yamazaki, Japan

So from Kobe we were heading back to Kyoto for two days. Along the way though, well, we had to stop by the Yamazaki Distillery. I would’ve liked to have done one of the tours but we got there too late in the afternoon. The museum and the tasting was still possible, though.

The museum is amazing and very interesting. You can learn so much just walking through it. Once you’ve gone through the museum, you come to the tasting bar. It’s a-la-carte so you choose the whiskies you want to taste-test. Just marvellous. A great idea except for the fact that you can not buy a bottle of whisky afterwards. They don’t even sell their own whiskies. Very disappointing.

Anyway, if you’d like to know what I tasted, check out my short blog post I published earlier. What a tasting. Yamazaki Distillery, well worth the visit if you’re a whisky lover or connoisseur. Next time I’ll do a tour.

75 mm, 1/640th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 1250

KOBE NUNOBIKI ROPEWAY

Kobe, Japan

We only had half a day in Kobe before moving on. We decided to visit the Nunobiki Herb Gardens in Fukiaicho, just outside Kobe City. So we checked out of our hotel and headed to Shin-Kobe Satation where we left our luggages in a storage place while we visited the gardens. It’s a 10 minute walk from the train station to the ropeway station. You can walk up to the gardens but I recommend you take the ropeway up and walk down. You can take the ropeway back down but the walk is easy, worth doing and most often in shade. The ropeway is a must as well with it’s stunning view of Kobe’s cityscape and the gardens below. There is a midpoint station you can get off at but we kept going to the Herb Gardens right at the top.

You’ll find stalls, boutiques and a restaurant once there. Flower and herb gardens amongst city views and beautiful architecture too. I didn’t take many photos up here, none worth sharing anyway, but I did film the area so keep a lookout for the video. The walk back down is quite pleasant too. All down hill so easy peasy. A few more gardens and waterfalls await your descent.

A beautiful place to visit, have a meal and even stay for a sunset photo. It’s open till 8:30 so plenty of time to get that perfect shot. Nunobiki Herb Gardens, I can highly recommend it.

28 mm, 1/100th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

STARBUCKS COFFEE KOBE MERIKEN PARK

Kobe, Japan

We don’t eat a huge amount in the morning so paying for a buffet breakfast at the hotel wasn’t worth our while. The problem though, most places open around 8 am. No matter, we went for a stroll around Meriken Park and Kobe Harborland and checked out a huge shop that opened at 7:30 before coming back here, to Starbucks, for a simple breakfast.

This shot was taken a couple of hour beforehand though. Just before I headed back to the room. I liked the reflection of the sun in the front glass panels and having the Port Of Kobe Tower in the frame, gives the viewer a location. A destination.

28 mm, 1/25th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

KOBE MERIKEN PARK ORIENTAL HOTEL

Kobe, Japan

I got up before sunrise in hopes of a shot of the Kobe Great Bridge all lit up with beautiful light as a backdrop but, unfortunately, neither happened. The bridge lights switched off just as I was setting up and sunrise wasn’t spectacular in any way. There was no interesting compositions either. Port Of Kobe is more beautiful at night than the day.

After the sun had risen, I went for a stroll around the area and saw this Be Kobe sign, meaning Kobe Bay. I realised I didn’t have a photo of our hotel and thought it made for a nice snapshot. Though it was still early morning, there were no interesting shadows, the sky was blue with no interesting cloud structures, it was a pretty bland scene. Thus the black and white conversion. Like I said, just a snapshot of where we stayed.

The Kobe Meriken Park Oriental Hotel is shaped like a ship and is prominent on Port Of Kobe. A luxurious hotel where every room has a view. We had the northern views which looks out towards the city. The best view, in my opinion. We didn’t eat at the hotel but had a nightcap at the View Bar which looks out to the north and west. Apart from a singing pianist, it’s pretty low key and quiet. Perfect to wind down. It was one of two accommodations we splurged on. And it was all for the location and views.

28 mm, 1/10th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

MIYAJIMA, HIMEJI AND KOBE

Japan

day three

Oyaho and welcome to day three in Japan. Today we spend the morning in Miyajima (Itsukushima Island) before leaving for Kobe, with a stop-over in Himeji.

We started our day with a Japanese breakfast which we had pre-ordered the previous day from the reception of the Hotel Kikunoya. A savoury breakfast which looked a lot like dinner, really. We’re used to a bit of sweetness to start the day but we did enjoy our Japanese breakfast, nonetheless.

The hotel has onsen (hot spring baths) which we just had to try before checking out. Unfortunately, you’re not permitted, for obvious reasons, to film or photograph inside the baths. If I’d known I was going to be alone, I wouldn’t have left my gear in the room and have some b-roll to show you. Let me briefly explain how onsens work, if you’ve never been in one. Men and women have separate onsens. That said, if you’re shy being naked in front of the same sex, this is not an experience for you. In the change room you strip naked and store your clothes, in this case, in a basket on shelves. You may keep a hand towel as you enter the bath area. Yes, a hand towel. Not enough to cover everything, if you know what I mean. Before getting into the baths though, you need to wash yourself. There is a small stool and bucket, soap, shampoo and conditioner provided next to the shower heads against the far wall. Once you're clean you can make your way into the hot spring baths. Without the hand towel, of course. That’s just in case you get a little too hot and need to wipe the sweat of your face. Let me be clear, these are not spas. There are no bubbles whatsoever. No soap either. Just clean, clear water. I see you, you see me. Here they have two baths, one very hot indoors and the other very warm outdoors. I quite enjoyed that little onsen.

The Hotel Kikunoya were very kind to mind our luggages after checkout, while we made our way up Mount Misen. Actually, they’re so great, they’ll pick/drop you and/or your bags off at the ferry whenever your ready. We just had our bags dropped as we made our own way there while visiting. We strolled through Momijidani Park to catch the Miyajima Ropeway to Shishiiwa Observatory. This park is beautiful and must be absolutely stunning in Autumn with it’s red and orange maple leaves. Along the way we saw the Shinomiya Shrine, walked by the closed Momiji-so restaurant and over a beautiful little bridge before reaching the Miyajima Ropeway. There are two different cable cars to catch to get to the observatory. The first is a six seater with views of Momijidani Park and Hiroshima. The second is a twenty standing place with views of the Seto Inland Sea and Hiroshima Bay. Once on Shishiiwa Observatory, you have stunning 270º views of Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Bay and the Seto Inland Sea. Magnificent ! That day was ethereal with haze and very thin, low lying clouds in the distance.

Our goal was the Misen Observatory. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t realised it was, at least, a half hour walk from the Shishiiwa Observatory. That’s not counting the time to get back and for photos once there. We just couldn’t spare the hour and a half. So we took the disappointing decision to head back down to town.

Itsukushima Town is very different during the day compared to last night. It was nice to see all the shops and restaurants open and feel the atmosphere of a busy little town. I loved walking down this street. It’s probably why I filmed so much of it.

Well, it was time to leave the beautiful island of Itsukushima and make our way to Kobe for the night. On the way though, we stopped in Himeji to visit the White Egret Castle as the locals call it or Himeji Castle for the rest of us. We didn’t actually want to visit inside the castle but rather see it up close from the surrounding grounds. Not only is it beautiful but quite impressive too. It was a easy ten minute walk from Himeji Station to the castle. You can even see the castle from the station and the single main road to get there. Well worth the stop-over.

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything in regards to Kobe, in this video. Apart from a brief look at the inside of the Meriken Park Hotel, where we stayed, and the view from our room. We splurged a little for this accommodation. We arrived late afternoon and exhausted. All we wanted to do was have a drink, eat and go to bed. We had a beer while taking photos of the gorgeous view. By the time we got ready to eat, it was quite late. We headed to the Mosaic on the Kobe Harborland. Unfortunately for us, most kitchens were closing so my wish for Kobe meat was out of the question. But meat I did have at the Brasiliano. And plenty of it. Skewers of perfectly cooked meats kept arriving at our table, carved right in front of you. Not forgetting the accompanying buffet of assorted salads, the service, the people, the atmosphere… made it an unforgettable experience. Not the Japanese meal we were hoping for but a memorable one nonetheless. To end the night, we headed to the hotel bar for a nightcap.

Sorry for the lack of b-roll of Kobe. We only spent the night and the next morning here. I have a little more for the next video. Until then, I hope you come back for the photo posts. Oyasuminasai my friends.

PORT OF KOBE

Kobe, Japan

We arrived in Kobe late afternoon and the last bus towards the hotel had already gone. Though we were tired, we decided to walk 20 minutes to get there. A nice walk through the city which made us realise there was a lot to see here. By the time we got to the Meriken Park Oriental Hotel, the sun was just about to disappear below the horizon. What a beautiful surprise when we opened up the curtains to the balcony of our room and saw this gorgeous view. You may have seen one of the photos in a previous blog post.

I quickly setup my gear and started shooting. Single exposures first then once blue hour was over I took a 180º panoramic view. We had arrived just in time to capture these images. So on the left we have Notre Dame Kobe hotel, Port Of Kobe tower, Kobe Maritime Museum, behind that the Hotel Okura Kobe and in front of all that the Meriken Park. You can also see the Bell Of Hortensia and Starbucks right next to it on the bottom right of the image. And not to forget, the cityscape of Kobe in the background.

28 mm, 5 seconds @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

HAKURO-JO

Himeji, Japan

Himeji Castle, also known as Hakuro-jo or Shirasagi-jo meaning White Egret Castle, is a prototypical architectural example of Japanese castles. It is magnificent ! Even from afar you can tell it is something spectacular.

Himeji was only a quick stop for us before heading to Kobe for the night. We didn’t want to visit the castle, just have a quick wander around the grounds and take a couple of photos. You need a half a day to visit the castle and it’s grounds. You can actually see Hakuro-jo as you approach Himeji Station and it’s only a ten minute walk from there. We couldn’t resist the stop-over.

Again here, I used one of my split-tone presets to give the ancient era feel to the image. Check out my last post for a quick rundown on my editing process for these types of images.

75 mm, 1/4000th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

JINRIKISHA

Himeji, Japan

Leaving Miyajima, we headed to Hiroshima Station to catch a Shinkansen to Himeji to visit their famous castle. Surprisingly, you can see castle from the Himeji Station. From their you just follow the main street straight to the castle. Easy-peasy.

Along the way though, we saw these beautiful jinrikisha, literally meaning man-power-vehicle. Or rickshaw in English. Women pulling rickshaws are very rare, apparently, I haven’t seen any and the men I’ve seen were very fit and young. We saw jinrikisha here in Himeji and in Kyoto as well. Specifically around the bamboo forest. We didn’t try them out but saw Japanese in kimonos and tourists use them.

I edited this image with my favourite split-tone. The jinrikisha, the castle and the old stone and chain barrier lend itself to an old fashion photograph. Well, my take on it anyway. Editing these kinds of images I always set my white balance first before converting to black and white. Then I edit the monochrome image to my liking and finished off by adding my split-tone preset over it. Tweak it and that’s it.

53 mm, 1/200th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

STONE TORII

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

Leaving Miyajima was quite difficult. It’s such a beautiful island with so much to see, visit and experience. It’s also one of those places that transforms itself with the passing of each season. A place that makes you long to come back and discover it’s other facets. A word of advice, if Miyajima is on your bucket list, move it to the top of it. And stay a minimum of two nights, you won’t regret it.

Since the day we arrived I’ve wanted to photograph the Stone Torii of Itsukushima Shrine. It was the first stone torii I’ve ever seen and, to tell you the truth, didn’t know they existed. In stone, that is. We were slowly making our way to the ferry to leave the island, when I took this shot. Not the best composition, I admit, and I don’t know why I didn’t take the time to find a better one. From the get-go it was going to be a black and white image. Apart for the trees and sky, the lack of colours, a lot of stones and sand, I could only see this image in monochrome. Taking the shot at midday added contrast and a little interest to the image. Oh and before I forget, the lights next to the lion-dog weren’t on in the middle of the day, I added that in post. It attracts the eye just enough to make you notice the, otherwise, camouflaged lion-dog. This is a snapshot, nothing more. Glad I got something though.

28 mm, 1/3200th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

SHISHIIWA OBSERVATORY

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

Absolutely stunning panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea from the Shishiiwa Observatory atop Mount Misen. It was a beautiful sunny day with a bit of haze and very thin, low lying clouds only a few kilometres away. It was ethereal and mysterious. This is where the Miyajima Ropeway ends it’s ascend.

We spent a little too much time here and didn’t realised that we needed, at least, another hour for the return trip to the Misen Observatory. And that’s without allocating time for photographs. Very disappointing as there are relics and temples there. We had a long day trip ahead of us today and had to make a choice.

28 mm, 1/200th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

MIYAJIMA ROPEWAY

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

There are three hiking tracks to the observatories on Mount Misen but if that’s not your thing, the Miyajima Ropeway is your only other option. It’s done in two phases and takes about twenty minutes. The first part are these cable cars that sit six people comfortably and the second, a larger car standing twenty people comfortably. Magnificent views from both of Hiroshima city and bay. Not to mention the beautiful Momijidani Park below. This ride must be stunning during the Autumn and Winter seasons. The ropeway stops at the Shishiiwa Observatory where there are gorgeous panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea and Hiroshima Bay. Unfortunately, to reach the Misen Observatory, you have a 30-40 minute walk ahead of you. There is no other way to get there. The extra hour walk, not including the time for photographs, was out of the question for us. A little disappointed but we had a long day trip ahead.

I can’t stop wondering what this park would look like in Autumn with it’s maple leaves canopy in tones of red, orange, yellow…

46 mm, 1/160th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

MOMIJIDANI PARK

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

The Hotel Kikunoya were kind enough to let us store our luggage after check out so we could visit Mount Misen Observatory. You can hike there but we wanted to jump on the ropeway for a different experience. And it’s a lot quicker. There’s still a 20 minute walk to the cable cart but well worth it as you stroll through one of Japan’s most famous maple leaves valley parks, Momijidani Park. An easy walk with a couple things to visit along the way. Like the Shinomiya Shrine and the Momiji-so restaurant. Of course, you’ll have to cross couple of these uniquely beautiful bridges.

Approaching this bridge from the shade of the forest and seeing the sun light the middle of it and illuminating the leaves around it, was just beautiful and tranquil. I asked my friend, Géraldine, to stand in the middle to show scale. It also makes for a beautiful travel photo that could have been taken anywhere in Japan.

If it’s anything like what we’ve experienced on our little walk to the ropeway, I can only imagine the amazing hike to Mount Misen Observatory.

28 mm, 1/1250th second @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 100

TAHOTO PAGODA

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

Though there was a thin layer of cloud in the sky, beautiful golden light blanketed the forest. Golden hour was here and had transformed the landscape. It was upon these trees that I first noticed it and seeing the second story of the Tahoto Pagoda protruding above the canopy was too beautiful not to photograph.

I wish I had a longer focal lens though. I would've preferred to have isolated the pagoda within the forest. Minimise distractions and simplify the composition. I like this image nonetheless.

Tahoto pagodas are very interesting and unique in their own right so check out the link above to learn more.

I’ve mentioned this on a previous post but let me stress again that the links I provide on my blog posts are purely provided for extra information and I am in no way remunerated. They are not affiliate, sponsored or commercial links and I am not payed in any way, shape or form to providing these links. If this changes in the future, I will let you know.

75 mm, 1/13th second @ ƒ/11, ISO 100

O-TORII BLUES

Miyajima / Itsukushima Island, Japan

I got up very early this morning with hopes of capturing the Grand Torii of Itsukushima Shrine at high tide and I wasn’t disappointed. Not quite a full high tide but enough for me to capture the image I wanted. Without a soul around, I had this whole area to myself for about an hour before I saw a local woman doing her morning walk. It was so quiet and peaceful. And beautiful.

I’ve posted a sunset photo of this torii if you want to check it out.

Blue hour is the only time of day where everything is equally exposed. So I didn’t need multiple exposures nor filters for this image. My objective was a long exposure with lots of breathing room around the subject. People who’ve seen this Grand Torii for themselves, will tell you this photo doesn’t show the grandeur of the gate. And they are right but it wasn’t my objective here.

I have photos with people at the base of the torii and if you’d like me to post the photo, head over to my Facebook or Instagram profile and let me know in the comments below this photo.

28 mm, 30 seconds @ ƒ/2.8, ISO 50

HIROSHIMA AND MIYAJIMA

Japan

day two

Ohayo my friends and welcome to day two of our trip in Japan. Today we leave Kyoto and head to Hiroshima. From there a local train then a ferry to Itsukushima Island, also known as Miyajima.

We had a late night and thus didn’t want to get up for the early train to Hiroshima. We decided to wait after peak hour to avoid the locals going to work and school. We had breakfast at Delifrance (of all places) but ate things that weren’t very French. Delicious though and their coffee brewing method is interesting to watch.

By the time we arrived at Hiroshima Station it was lunchtime. We left our bags at a luggage holder and went looking for something to eat. One of the dishes my friend, Géraldine, had on her to-eat list while in Japan was the famous Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. To our great surprise we saw advertisement for the dish everywhere as we were walking through the station. A couple of floors up and we found a corridor of restaurants with two or three of them specialising in okonomiyaki. We picked the one with the most crowd, Goemon Okonomiyaki, and sat right at the counter in front of the hotplates. A very memorable experience. From watching them prepare the dish in front of us, to tasting the meal, to seeing every single staff member saying goodbye to every single client leaving the restaurant. That was amazing. It was quick, delicious and surprisingly fun.

With our stomachs full, we started our long walk to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial or more popularly known as the Atomic Bomb Dome. Though long, it was nice to see a little of the city along the way. The landmark is quite impressive in itself but to see how everything has been rebuilt around it, is just a amazing. It makes you wonder if there ever was a atomic blast. Walking around the park felt like I was on religious grounds. I’m not a religious person but I felt an inner calmness and peace. A respect for what had happened here and the courage and strength the people of Hiroshima, of Japan, had to get through it. And build a park that evokes peace. A well named park.

On the way back to Hiroshima Station, we walked by Carp Castle, better known as Hiroshima Castle. Actually, it’s the castle’s second compound that you see here. The original castle was, obviously, destroyed in the atomic blast and a replica built in it’s place. Now though it serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s history before World War II. We didn’t get to visit as time was short to get to Miyajima before sunset.

Back in Hiroshima Station, we jumped on a local train to Miyajimaguchi to catch a ferry to Itsukushima Island, better known as Miyajima. This is a gorgeous place. Little town atmosphere on the shores of Hiroshima Bay. The old and the not-so old architecture. The Itsukushima Shrine is amazing and it’s Torii is just a wonder. We got here in time to drop our bags at the hotel before heading straight back down to the torii. We stayed about two and half hours taking photos of it and the shrine, and watching the sun set. What a beautiful sunset it was too. Then we made our way to the town to have a look around and find one of the very few restaurants still open. Both Géraldine and I loved the main street of Itsukushima Town for it’s old look and atmosphere. It gave us the impression of being in a different era. We chose to eat at Mametanuki restaurant. A wonderful little place where the owner is, I think, English but the cuisine definitely Japanese. Very friendly place with good service and delicious food.

Once full and warm we made our way back to our hotel, Kikunoya. A beautiful hotel with a restaurant and onsens. When we told the receptionist we weren’t going to have dinner there, they happily showed us the locations of restaurants that were going to be open and advised not to eat to late as their kitchens close quite early. Very friendly and helpful. Oh and they have a foot spa at the front entrance.

Well that’s it my friends. The end of another wonderful day in Japan. Hope to see all of you for day 3. Oyasuminasai.