Photo: Azlyn Khalid
Hiroshima, the vivacious Japanese city, flirts with its visitors through its scattered neon lights and eclectic retail shops downtown. But one of the first things you will also likely notice is its street snack, the okonomiyaki, often referred to as the "Japanese pizza".
Hiroshima Okonomiyaki (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
It is a whimsical, savoury pancake made of pan-fried batter and cabbage, and popular versions offer toppings that include soba noodles, seafood, meat or cheese. Its final makeup is most frequently dictated by the customer, usually after a friendly chat with a street-stall hawker.
The Hiroshima War Memorial (Photo: Azlyn Khalid)
The city on the Ota River delta is almost as young as this culinary invention. "Little Boy", the atomic bomb so codenamed that was dropped on the then 400-year-old city on 6 August 1945, left nothing in its wake. The western retaliators had chosen to bomb the heart of Hiroshima’s economic and political centre, which was never rebuilt. Instead, it is now a memorial of Japan’s scarring past.
Also known as Peace Park, its grounds are home to the remains of the Czech-designed, former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Elsewhere, a stone chest bears the 220,000 or so names of people who lost their lives during or due to the drop of the bomb.
Art pieces, such as the statue of 'Mother and Son in the Storm' and the Fountain Of Prayer, dot the park and they, too, are dedicated to peace and World War II’s victims. Visitors often stop to admire the Flame Of Peace, which is set to burn until the planet is completely rid of nuclear weapons.
The Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima (Photo: Azlyn Khalid)
Away from the park, "survivors" such as the former Hiroshima Mitsui Bank and Bank Of Japan buildings remain, and the city centre hosts shopping venues such as Sun Mall, Deo Deo, Best Denki, Fukuya and Sogo. No trouble getting ariund, as the city is conveniently served by a punctual network of trademark green trams.
If you have time, head to the reconstructed Hiroshima Castle, which welcomes visitors from 9am to 6pm, closing an hour earlier in winter. There is also the serene Shukkeien Garden, which displays the rich art of traditional Japanese landscaping, albeit in miniature sizes.
Hiroshima Castle (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Hiroshima welcomes visitors all year round; its winters are not too cold (above 0˚C) and its summers are not too warm.
While planning your holiday, do not forget SingTel’s DataRoam Saver Plan, which allows you to navigate and Instagram the city's colours and vibrance without fear of an exorbitant bill. This saves you the bother of scouting for local prepaid data cards and free wifi zones.
Keep in touch with your loved ones and log on to social media anywhere in Japan, even as far as outskirts such as the beautiful Kintai-kyo Bridge in cherry blossom season, picturesque Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island or even the snowy slopes of Furano in Hokkaido.
When darkness falls, head for the warm glow of Nagarekawa, Hakushima-dori, Yagenbori-dori or the Parco building’s sky-high nightlife, where you can upload photos of you and your new friends without a hitch with SingTel DataRoam Saver.
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