It was night time in Hiroshima. It was also New Year’s Eve. That was the first time I had spent my year end outside of Canada since arriving in 2004. So naturally eating okonomiyaki was the best way to pass the time.
We hit up Okonomimura, which in my memory ended up being a multi-storey building with okonomiyaki restaurants. Each floor had several restaurants, all contained in a very tight space. They could only sit about 10 people each and the lines were long.
We finally decided on Takenoko, and it turned out to be a restaurant that was on the Michelin Guide.
If you want to eat at one of these restaurants, I’d suggest you prepare yourself to be touching elbows with strangers, sitting on wobbly stools and having to hold on to all your belongings on your knee or be okay with setting them down on the dirty floor.
The particular style of okonomiyaki I chose had oysters and lots of yakisoba layered with vegetables, which follows the Hiroshima style. Having tried this and the one in Osaka, I’d say I prefer the Osaka one where the ingredients are mixed and it’s much more reminiscent of a pancake.
Next stop, history.
Hiroshima received one of two atomic bombs from the United States in World War 2 on August 6, 1945. It killed approximately 80,000 people instantly.
The A-bomb dome was still standing after the attack and it’s now part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
It’s hard to realize just how many people died while you’re just walking by the river. But when you get close enough that the dome is only several feet away, you’ll see just how devastating it must have been. Just the dome itself would have housed so many people, but obviously it wasn’t the only place that was affected.
And war isn’t over for many places in the world. People are still dying. And for what?
The only way I can get close to understanding war is through going to museums and seeing the remnants of buildings like the A-bomb dome. Lucky doesn’t even begin to describe people like me.
After we paid our respects and counted our blessings, we headed to Hiroshima Castle. In the area there was the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine and we saw many people starting to line up.
It’s customary for people to make a visit to the shrine on the first day of the new year, called Hatsumode, so people will start lining up at 10 or 11.
We hit up a shrine the next day instead because waiting for several hours in the cold was a little more than we could handle that day.
And instead, for our new year’s countdown we spent time in a cozy, warm Airbnb unit where we watched the time on our phones and then had my favourite alcoholic drink of all time—Suntory peach beer.
From visiting the floating torii to spending a quiet countdown with my boyfriend, New Year’s Eve in Hiroshima was a day filled with warmth.