Whether it’s the open spaces, the impeccable cleanliness or the extremely hospitable people, Hiroshima has been a welcome change from the hustle and bustle that is Hong Kong.
Moving to Japan has been a dream of mine since I was fourteen(ish) and, as a rule, I never set my heart on a particular part of a country. Where others may have demanded Tokyo, Kyoto or Osaka, I let Japan choose me, so to speak. I moved here just under a month ago now and after some home-sickness (for Hong Kong) I can say I’m starting to fall in love with Hiroshima. Not just the home of a deep and mournful history, Hiroshima is home to a deeply respectful and welcoming people with a culture that just keeps giving.
When I landed in Hiroshima, I first noticed how terrifying the customs agents were, not for any other reason than I had heard that moving here can be difficult and getting rejected is a possibility. As my return flight was booked six days later, they questioned me on the sheer contents of my baggage for such a short trip. I did tell them I was potentially coming here to work and they did let me through but I was sweating profusely the whole time.
After being in the city for a day or two I got to explore Peace Park and the Atomic Dome, I went to the local haunts, mainly Mac Bar, Ken’s Bar, the Shack and Revolucion and I made my way around the downtown area. First off, this place is super clean and the air smells legitimately fresh. This may seem an odd comment but anyone who has walked the streets of Hong Kong knows that Hong Kong comes with an assortment of smells and odours that are downright unpleasant. Hiroshima, not so much! The people move quickly but politely and there are no bins/trash cans anywhere but also no trash to speak of. The Japanese have a very strict recycling regime which is compulsory and was easily one of the harder parts of adjusting to life here. Of course I had recycled before,but not every single piece of rubbish.
As a perk of my job I was given a bicycle and that made travelling around a lot easier and faster, almost everyone here has a bike and even though there are very well run trams to take, cycling is easier, cheaper and healthier. One of my first bike stops was Hijiyama Park to see the cherry blossoms. Hiroshima can be quite mountainous and this park is sort of high up in the hills but also surrounded by roads. It’s big and beautiful and a peaceful place to visit during a sunnier day.
The food here has proven to be just as amazing as everyone said it is, Nabe, Sushi, Okonomiyaki and Basashi (raw horse which I DID NOT enjoy) has been an adventure in itself. There are so many options and so many warm homely places to eat, I can say with some honesty I may or may not have gained a belt buckle.
It might as well be compulsory to learn some Japanese before moving here as you will need it. This is a fairly obvious point but I feel I underestimated the need for it slightly having just come from Hong Kong. It’s easy to pick up some of the vital stuff but it just seems like good manners to take it further and be able to at least hold a decent conversation.
Weather wise Hiroshima is seeming to be as unpredictable as Hong Kong, it rains, gets cold, gets really hot, then rains again. As I finish this post, the rain is pouring where only a few hours ago the sun was out. Fortunately I am a lover of the rain!
As a sidenote — with Netflix ruining all of our lives with the vpn blocker, I can attest that Japanese Netflix is AWESOME!
More Hiroshima updates coming throughout the year!