Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Japanese Food Adventure Chapter 2 - Day 9. Arriving in Hiroshima and the search for Koba

Our time in Nagasaki had come to an end, we'd really enjoyed our time in this incredible city but it was time to move on to Hiroshima. We'd considered going into a cafe for breakfast but my wife pointed out a supermarket beside the train station which would offer a good choice of food for much less money, she had a good point.

With so much choice we spent quite a long time deciding what to buy for our train journey.

This was our final selection, time to jump on the train and eat it.

My wife's vegetable and rice ekiben cost ¥298 (just £1.95!) and was very pleasing to the eye. You are generally given chopsticks, toothpicks and serviettes when you buy this type of food from the supermarket.

My ekiben was a bed of rice topped with a tempura prawn and vegetables, the egg was what clinched the deal for me though. This was one of my favourite ekibens during our trip and at just ¥380 (about £2.50) it was certainly money well spent.

Some watermelon helped us believe we were relatively healthy still, it was delicious.

The healthy moment was short lived though as we scoffed some of our favourite Japanese chocolate and biscuit mushrooms.

Earlier in the trip I'd enjoyed a half banana wrapped in cream and cake. This entire banana version was an opportunity too good to miss. If you ever get the chance to try one of these do yourself a massive favour and do it, they are to die for!!

We swapped trains at Hakata and jumped onboard a trusty 700 series Shinkansen.

We weren't particularly hungry but this box of Pocky was calling us from the buffet trolley. If you haven't had the pleasure before these are chocolate coated biscuit sticks. They are very difficult to put down once you eat the first one and available in many different flavours.

The weather today was wet and overcast, the train was going so fast that water droplets wern't able to form on the windows. As the train slowed down in Hiroshima though we realised we would need to get our brolly ready for action.

Our home for the next 3 nights was APA Hotel Hiroshima Ekimae, the cost per night for a double room with en suite bathroom was ¥6200 (£40)

Our room was very similar to all the other rooms we'd stayed in, this one had the best view so far though. On this trip both my wife and I decided to travel with hand luggage sized cases, and here's why. With so much travelling from one place to another we didn't really want to be lugging around big cases and all the hotels we were staying at had the facility to wash clothes. On our previous 2014 trip to Japan we used well under half the stuff we had packed but this time we ended up using everything, travel light is my advice.

The trademark APA cranes were waiting for us on top of the bed.

We put the kettle on and formulated a plan of action.

It was pouring down with rain but we decided to go out and visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial. It was time to reflect on the horrific events of August 6th 1945.

When we arrived at Genbaku Dome so many thoughts went racing through our minds. The ruin serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6 1945. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.

The Association for the Mobilized Student Victims of Hiroshima Prefecture built this tower in May 1967 in memorial to 10.000 students who were victims.

The memorial is twelve meters tall, five stories, and is decorated with the Goddess of Peace as well as eight doves which are placed around the tower.

We crossed the bridge and walked through Heiwakinen Park for one last look at Genbaku Dome. It's a deeply emotional place to visit and the atrocities will of course never be forgotten but what struck us the most was that it doesn't feel as foreboding as one would imagine, it was kept as a symbol of peace and this is how it feels. The way Hiroshima built itself back up so quickly to become a vibrant and diverse beautiful place is testament to that.

We took shelter inside a shopping mall, after a while though we decided we needed a beer.

My wife had spotted Koba, a local bar in a magazine she'd been reading back at the hotel earlier. The bar sounded great so we went searching for it hoping to get something to eat there.

Koba isn't a particularly easy bar to find but perserverence paid off, it's was up on the 3rd floor. It was interesting to note that in Japan there is never any mention of ground floor, instead that becomes first floor which seems to make more sense to me.

The bar has exposed concrete walls, a large screen showing music videos and heaps of character.

Behind the bar you can find Bom and Shim, they will make you feel right at home!

A Stormtrooper was guarding an impressive selection of Sake.

We ordered a beer and studied the food menu.

My wife ordered a selection of vegetables in tempura batter.

I chose the teriyaki chicken served with salad, it was so good! I was expecting to find some bones in the chicken but Shim had skillfully prepared it and cooked it in a delicious teriyaki sauce. This was my favourite meal I'd eaten so far since arriving in Japan, top job Shim!

Bom and Shim invited us to join them at the bar, they were a great pair of chaps and it was interesting chatting to them over a few drinks.

Shim was a dab hand at making mojitos, plenty of rum in these!

I felt I needed to find out more about Sake so asked Bom for his recommendation, he pulled out two bottles and grabbed some glasses.

The first sake we tried was surprisingly smooth and a far cry from the Sake I'd tried in the supermarket back in Nagasaki.

The second one was even better though! It was poured from a well aged bottle and overflowed over the glass for sometime before Bom stopped pouring. We were told to first sip from the glass without picking it up, we were enjoying this lesson in Sake.

Feeling a bit tiddly we decided to order some chips, they arrived handcut just like my mum used to make.

Never had the humble chip tasted so good, delicious with mayo and ketchup.

Many visitors to the bar left notes which were stuck on top of the bar. We didn't leave a note, at least I don't think we did, the sake was having a serious effect on our memory!

We moved onto the cocktail menu, I don't recall what we chose but I remember they had plenty of alcohol in.

We were the only ones in the bar when we first arrived but it had filled up really quickly, clearly a popular choice with both locals and visitors.

We said our farewells to Bom and Shim and staggered back to the hotel. If you're ever in Hiroshima be sure to look the up Koba, it's well worth visiting. There is a great article written by "Get Hiroshima" on the bar here

Looking back at my photos the following morning it became clear that we must have stopped off at Family Mart on the way home. A sausage on a stick and something in breadcrumbs must have been a great late night snack.

My wife enjoyed some fried tofu.

Click here for Day 10
Rabbit Island, Onomichi and a lesson in Okonomiyaki.


  1. "Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation."

    Horrific, it's true, but I wonder what the toll would have been if the Japanese had needed to be subdued by conventional weapons? While the toll on Hiroshima and Nagasaki may have been high, there will be an awful lot of people alive now, including many Japanese whose parents and grandparents lived in other cities, who owe their existence to the use of the atomic bombs.

    The combined tally for the two bombings is probably substantially less than the death toll would have been to take Tokyo on its own.

  2. I'd never fancied Japan before but your write-ups are making me think next year (and it's not a long flight from Dubai really, 9.5 hours).
    Can you share with us your route (yes i know you do with we went from x to y, but I'm sure you have it all on one document...).
    Looks like you're having fun, and I do love your missus' drawings.

    1. I knew the route from memory from researching it so don't have a file with it on anywhere. Anything specific you would like to know regarding the route though just ask. My wife loved doing her sketches, she wished she could have done many more though!

  3. Pocky I have had, but why Lucy from Charlie Brown?

    1. I'm not sure but I think they may have a range of collectible boxes.