It was New Year's Eve last year at Hiroshima that I had my first episode of having snowflakes falling freely down my smiling face. I remember that I acted like a child sticking my tongue out, waving my arms high just to get a feel of these heavenly ice crystals. I must admit that visiting Hiroshima gave me a different kind of high. And when we came back from vacation, to some degree, I wanted to experience that once again. After all, next to Shizuoka and Kyoto, it is the third city here in Japan that holds a special place in me. So once again, I went to visit Hiroshima.

Shizuoka to Hamamatsu to Toyohashi to Ogaki to Maibara up to Himeji. Transferring from one station to another was a bit exhausting. With me still taking some of my meds which make me feel drowsy at times and really drags me down, I transferred to the Hikari Railstar for a direct trip from Himeji to Hiroshima. And when I arrived, Hiroshima station's underground maze added to my daze and confusion. Thankfully, I soon ended up on the exit which led me to a view of a sculpture with the moon just directly above it. Like an espresso perking me up on that freezing night, the fun has begun!

That night at the hotel, I plotted out my schedule and prepared my gears for the following day. I need to wake up 4:30am, so that I would make it in time for the golden hour. After spending half an hour at the ofuro, I readied myself to sleep. I looked at the window one last time and there I saw once again. Snow falling.

Braving the freezing cold, I walked from my hotel to the A-bomb dome. The city tram is not in operation until 6am. It was 2 to 0 degrees Celsius that morning. I kept slapping my face because my hands were getting colder. I kept reminding myself why I was out so early, so cold, so... Then I came across some Japanese youth horrendously laughing and saying to one another how cold it was. They may have just came out of a disco club because they were just wearing huge winter jackets, shorts with part of their legs exposed, and long leggings. I slap myself again and reminded myself that, if they can survive the cold in those stupid outfits, I can do this morning's challenge.

It wasn't just the bone-chilling temperature but the hair-raising sight of the A-bomb dome on a pitch-black sky was also part of the challenge. Upon reaching the A-bomb dome, I checked my watch wondering what time the sun will rise. But it seems that the weather is delaying it. I ventured around, looking for some sweet spot to set up my tripod. I did not mind the snowflakes which by then has begun to fall. Although at times I was distracted by some spooky sounds caused by just about anything, a crow, a jogger or a bicycle. You just can't recognize them well in situations like these. My first shot was at an exposure of 2 minutes. It was dark, so I kept increasing the shutter speed up to 5 minutes. This time it was just right to my taste.

The sun did eventually came out at around 8am, I was on my way back to the hotel by then ( I got a little sleepy, so I thought of giving myself a few hours of rest ) and by the time I arrived at Iwakuni the sun was wrestling with some clouds. I was fortunate to get a set ticket for Kintaikyo, Iwakuni jo, the ropeway ride and the bus. Then I said think again. Snow began to trickle as I was at the Kintaikyo figuring out what angle to shoot best. Hurriedly, I covered Tank and found myself wondering how uniquely beautiful this bridge is. Five wooden arches. It is said that the original bridge was constructed in 1673 and was destroyed by flooding of the Nishiki River.

I did not have the luxury to wait for the sun to show up to take decent shots. So off to Iwakuni jo I went. It felt like I was walking on clouds as I went up and down on those snow covered bridge floor. The ropeway was a little bit farther from the bridge. Along the way were samurai residences and a ruin which looks like a part of the old castle construction. It was the brilliant mind of Kikkawa Hiroie who conceived to have this castle built on top of Mt. Shiroyama that strategically overlooks not just the Nishiki River but as far as the Inland Sea on clear days. It took five years for this castle to be built and the stone walls were even the works of the Anoo masons. Sad to know that Iwakuni jo only existed for 7 years, it's fate was sealed when the Tokugawa shogunate mandated allowing only one castle for every state.

There is a small museum inside the reconstructed donjon where one can find the familiar samurai history and some artifacts. From the viewdeck, Kintaikyo was simply amazing. Again, how I wished I had a telephoto glass to get a closer shot of the activity below.

I have a peculiar weakness when the day is about to end. I tend to rush things up. Who would not? After all I am now a golden hour devotee. I only wished that I would be in Miyajima when the sun lays to rest that day but I guess I have to settle with shots from the ferry.

I was still catching my breath when I reach the famous floating torii of Miyajima. All the while I thought I would be pegging the tripod from afar. The tides were low that day and there were probably around 30 people near the torii. I did not think twice of going down and have a closer shot of the torii. I said to myself that I did not came all the way from Shizuoka just to back down a few feet from what I really wanted to capture. Night falls and the tides were slowly rising, suddenly the spotlights went on. I stood still. Awestruck.

Perhaps next year I would book a hotel on the island. I wanted to stay there for at least a day just to indulge myself. But this time, I was again rushing towards the ferry where there was already a queue. My feet was a little bit sore from running and trekking up the mountain, but I was confident that I can now get back to my hotel. Heading for the train station, the tunnel along the way were full of murals that caught my attention and slowed my pace.

Again I spent an hour and half at the ofuro. And I did look at the window before going to bed. Wishing for the snow to keep on falling.

I woke up the following day at around 7:30am. After praying, I looked at the window to find that my wish has been granted. So, I put on my jacket, took Tank and went outside. I need not rush this day. After having breakfast I was off to Hiroshima jo, which was just around the corner. I was still enjoying the snow when I sun played tricks that day. I was already nearing the Ninomaru when the snow stop and the sun suddenly cast a beam on the Taikoyagura turret. Interesting to note the unique defensive construction of the Ninomaru which served not just as cavalry assembly ground but also, being narrow, can easily be destroyed, in the event of an attack, to flood the enemy.

In 1589 Hiroshima jo, also known as "Carp Castle" was established by Mori Terumoto, daimyo of present day Shimane,Yamaguchi, parts of Tottori, Okayama and Hiroshima prefecture, and began to rule in 1591. When the battle of Sekigahara broke in 1600, Mori Terumoto, even though he did not participate in the battle, was sent to Hagi being the official head of the Western alliance who lost against the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu. Fukushima Masanori then took over at Hiroshima. But was sent to Nagano in 1619 after defying the shogunate when he personally proceeded to restore the damaged stone walls caused by a flood that hit Hiroshima in 1617. For 12 generations until the Meij restoration it was the Asano clan who ruled Hiroshima jo. And on August 6, 1945 the original castle's fate was sealed by the blast caused by the first atomic bomb.

After roaming the Honmaru and outside the castle moat, I went back to check out of the hotel. I did notice that there were some pen & ink artworks being displayed around the lobby. Later did I know that it was an ongoing exhibit. So before I finally left the hotel those masterpieces did not escape my curiosity.

I went back to Hiroshima jo. No travel of mine is complete without me researching more of a castle's history. This time I spent 2 hours inside the reconstructed donjon. At the gift shop, I was surprised to find a few young japanese ladies who were so interested with japanese castles that they bought books of various castles. I was so impressed with how educational the museum was. I couldn't help but take a few shots of vital information and anything that caught me that I though I would be able to use in this blog.

The A-bomb Dome does not look ghostly at this time of the day. Again, just like my time at Kintaikyo, the sun was wrestling with some clouds. Good thing I had plenty of time to sit and wait for him to give out some of his precious shines. I shot and shot until my 4GB was full. I'm back.


  1. hangganda koya!! ^_^

    breath taking pictures, well thought of narration....

    lamo maganda kung maipprint mo yung pictures...gumawa ka ng book about your travels ^_^

    inggit ako...^_^

    gusto ko din mag travel ng mag travel....

    kane chodai? :D:D:D

  2. droooooooool! andaya. next time magsama ka naman. kailangan ko rin talaga pumunta ng hiroshima!

  3. uy kuya, ang ganda. lagi ka kasi mag blog para may mabasa ako. ganda pa ng kwento mo parang andun din ako. nasa loob ng backpack mo.

    maganda kasi alam mo pa ang history ng mga napuntahan mo hehe.

    kung may babalikan siguro akosa banda diyan, yung iwakuni bridge. parang napa historic kasi ng lugar na yun e.

    oo kuya gawa ka na ng coffee book. book na gawa sa coffee? haha.

    kita kits sometime...

  4. Somebody is calling...and if it's not Bushido, I will not come, hehehe.

    Solo trip pala ito Rading? Madalas mas gusto ko rin ang nag-iisa sa adventures dahil di ako mahusay mag-organize. Sarili ko pa, nahihirapan akong i-organize tsk.

    Ang ganda ng photos Rad, so with your thoughts. It is very well presented. Pangatlo na ako, I agree na maganda nga kung gumawa ka ng coffee book para may babalikan kapag naka-upo ka sa tumba-tumba habang umiinom ng espresso during golden hours.

    More power on your upcoming adventures, and siyempre regards to Rya.


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