Day 5 – Hiroshima, Japan and Dōtonbori

Around 4am, one of T’s friends called T wanting to see if he was able to receive any calls in Japan. T tells S he’s still sleeping and he’ll call him back later. We slept for a little while longer, but unfortunately, our internal clocks were still messed up and we decided it was time to wake up. T ended up saying he was going to be back, grabbed his wallet, and left. Less than 30 minutes later, he showed up with McDonalds for breakfast. I kindof had a feeling that’s where he was going because there wasn’t really anything in our hotel besides the buffet downstairs and I really didn’t think he was going to explore outside. Plus, McDonalds is right next to the entrance we use to get into the Shin-Osaka station from our hotel, so it was less than a 5 minute walk. He came back with a Big Breakfast Deluxe (pancakes, muffin, eggs, sausage patty), a Chicken Egg Muffin (fried chicken patty with egg, cheese, and a honey mustard sauce), coffee, and hash browns. We ate breakfast while sitting in bed while he called Shawn and chatted with him. After breakfast, we got ready and took the train to Hiroshima.

T and I and one of the bullet trains

We took the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Sakura 553. The train ride took about 90 minutes with 4 stops. Pretty neat considering its about 326km (202 miles). Once we got to Hiroshima, we stopped by a small pastry shop inside the station and decided to grab some pastries as a snack. I got a hot dog baked into some puff pastry and cheese with ketchup drizzled on top.  T got the same thing and a chocolate croissant. As we left the train station, I was completely lost (as per usual). But thanks to Google Maps, we were on our way towards Hiroshima Castle. We walked over the Enko River and found a bench overlooking the river and sat and ate our little treats.

After we enjoyed our snack, we were off to find Hiroshima Castle. Along the way we found, Shukkeien Garden, but we decided to skip it since it was yet another garden to see. If you do decide to go, there is an admission fee of ¥260.

We finally found the castle grounds and spotted the castle. There was an admission fee of ¥370 per person. The castle itself is 5 stories tall.

Fun fact: It is a replica of the original castle (as the original was destroyed by the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945) and was turned into a museum. It shared the history of the castle and the city. When we reached the top of the castle, we were able to step outside and look out into the castle grounds and city.

After the castle, we walked towards Ninomaru, one of the castles defense structure. This, too, was rebuilt after the atomic bombing. Entrance to go into Ninomaru is free. Once you enter, you have to remove your shoes. You are given rubber clogs if you preferred not to walk barefooted/with socks. The rubber clogs were quite small in size, so if you wear anything larger than a women’s 6, just walk with your socks on. T wore the rubber clogs and well… they were just way too small for him. At one end of the structure held a drum, where T busted out a cool beat. I, on the other hand, was a fail on the drums. Not my thing. I am not so musically inclined like T.

After, we walked towards the Peace Memorial Park and Peace Memorial Museum. The first landmark we came across was the A-Bomb Dome, which was right along the river. It is the remains of the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We continue along the river and crossed a small bridge and found ourselves at the Cenotaph, an arched tomb/memorial for those who have died because of the atomic bomb. When we stood in front of the Cenotaph, we were able to see the flame that was lit and the A-Bomb Dome.

We decided to go into the Peace Memorial Museum to learn more about the atomic bombing in the eyes of the Japanese. There was an admission of ¥200 per person. As we walked through the museum, it remained relatively quite and somber. The museum displayed some remains, as well as a lot of pictures of what the bomb had done to the people of Hiroshima.

A replica of Hiroshima and where the atomic bomb exploded

After the museum, we decided to walk back towards the train station. We ended up in Downtown Hiroshima, which was filled with shopping, restaurants, and arcades. We spotted an Adidas and T ended up purchasing a pair of Pure Boosts. Also, while walking down the street, he spotted an advertisement for Initial D, and we ended up in a 6 story arcade looking for the game. Of course, the one floor that we didn’t really explore had the game on it and we walked through the rest of the building. The top floor had a lot of displays for women, but looked super sketch. We ended up finding it on the 2nd floor (go figure). T ended up playing one round alone as the person in front of him left even though he still had one credit left. After that round, we both played. We wanted to race each other, but since we didn’t understand Japanese, we ended up on different races going against computers. Pretty lame, but I believe we both won.

We came across a Starbucks and decided to share an American Cherry Pie Frappe, which was actually pretty good! A (T’s sister) posted something on my facebook wall before we left letting us know that this drink was available in Japan’s Starbucks. Of course we were the only Americans inside Starbucks and we ordered the American Cherry Pie Frappe. Ironic?

It wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. The crust dome was a bit difficult to eat and chunks kept getting stuck on the straw. It was a cool concept, but really didn’t serve any purpose. Maybe if they blended it and had crumbs in the bottom? Sprinkled on top, maybe? But a whole dome? Yeah, pretty inconvenient.

We finally made our way back to the train station and got onto the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Sakura 560 towards Shin-Osaka. Once we got to our hotel we began our debate on what to have for dinner. Since it was our last night at Osaka, we decided to head out to Dōtonbori since there were plenty of food items everywhere (or so I heard/read).

Of course, we had to take the train as it was not walking distance. We got onto the Tokaido-Sanyo Line towards Banshu-Ako and got off at Osaka Station. From Osaka Station, we got onto the Osaka Loop Line and made our way to Imamiya Station. From there, we got onto the Yamatoji Line and got out at the JR Namba Station. It took about 30 minutes to get there. We started walking towards Dōtonbori, which was another 10 minute or so walk. The Dōtonbori area was a bit overwhelming. Not only was there so many people, but there were just side streets everywhere and pretty much everything was in Japanese that we really had no idea where to go. Amidst all the chaos that was Dōtonbori, we decided to have Gyu-kaku because who can really turn down All You Can Eat and Drink !?

Finally, I decided to pull up to Dōtonbori website to try to locate where exactly the restaurant was, which was on the main street. Now… where the F was the main street?! After walking round aimlessly, we found a bar that had pretty cheap drinks according to the sign they had out front. T needed a drink, so we decided to take the elevator up. But of course, when we got up, they were charging quite the cover charge just to get in. So we passed and the search for Gyu-kaku continued. But alas! We found the main street (I recognized some of the “iconic” displays. Then as expected, Gyu-kaku was right there, so we walked in put our name down, and waited about 45 minutes. A table finally opened up on the 2nd floor, so we took the elevator up. We took off our shoes and placed them in a cubby and sat at our table. At first we were a bit skeptical since it appeared that we had to sit on the floor, but surprisingly there were cut-outs in the floor so that our legs were well rested under the table. Thank goodness because I don’t think we would’ve been comfortable. I know for a fact that both of our pants were not stretchy whatsoever. We were given a pad to sit on, too, so we were not sitting on just the hardwood floor. There wasn’t too much room under our two person table as there was the grill in between us (so no footsies for us haha), but nonetheless it was comfy.

We decided to get the 2nd tier of the All You Can Eat and went with the All You Can Drink option, as well. If you want to check out the different menu options: click here. Of course, the website is Japanese so it’ll be tricky to understand. Basically, the 2nd tier (which was priced at ¥3,480) gave us 100 items to choose from. The All You Can Drink option was an additional ¥1,580. When our server finally took our order and our first set of item came out, our 90 minute eating/drinking limit began. I don’t remember a whole lot of what we got to eat (the wasabi beef tongue was pretty bomb), but one thing’s for sure, we drank a shit ton of hot sake. We kept ordering carafes of hot sake (which held about 4 shots). I had 3 carafes, a beer, and a couple of whiskey and ginger ales. T had several mixed drinks and 4 carafes of sake. Needless to say, we were pretty drunk by the time we left.

Since getting to Dōtonbori was a journey and it was getting pretty late, we decided to take a cab back. I vlogged as we tried to find a place to get a cab. You can tell we were not in the right state of mind in our video. But nonetheless, we had a good time! Our cab driver was super nice; however, spoke very little English so it was hard to communicate with him on how to get us back to our hotel, so we told him the Shin-Osaka Station since it was next door. We get dropped off and we start heading back our usual route to our hotel. The station was pretty much empty to our surprise, but we thought nothing of it. Then all of a sudden we see this man in a business suit and briefcase run. Why was he running? Was someone after him? Zombies, perhaps? Was he missing his train? Totally confused we look ahead and notice a metal gate closing, which would’ve blocked off our exit, so without hesitation I start running, too, followed by T. As we got closer to the closing gate, I decide to do a baseball slide to get underneath the gate. T dropped and rolled underneath. Sure enough when we got up we were laughing so hard. We were both drunk we really didn’t know if our efforts were really needed (for all we know we could’ve just ducked down and made it). The guy closing the gate just stared at us probably thinking we’re idiots. We laugh our way back to the hotel and call it a night. Sure enough, I walked away with two bruised knees and a scraped up ankle… and a hangover.

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