Cycling Kyushu: Hiroshima / by Ryan Mundt

BACK TO HIROSHIMA

This is my third time to Hiroshima and every time I love it more, though this time will be extra short. I get out of the station, stop to unpack my bike and immediately see folks in Carp uniforms heading toward the station. Sure, rub it in! I didn’t even bother finding out the score.

I get set up and head toward the hotel just over the river and get checked in. I get to my room, take a load off and have a cup of coffee. The window faces the river and mountains off in the distance. Nice! It’s the golden hour and knowing that I’m not here long I want to go peddle around the city a bit before dinner. I leave my gear in the room and set off on the bike. Sometimes traveling alone can be lonely but times like this it is great just to be alone and roam.

I swear, if there were jobs for me in Hiroshima, I’d move there in a minute! What a great city; wide streets, lots of rivers, nice shopping areas and stylish restaurants, as I found out this time.

I rode over near the Peace Museum and got off the bike and walked around the park over to the monuments and to the river. It’s Sunday evening and not too many people are out, just a few tourist and locals paying their respects.

Walking the bike now, I start wandering the streets in search of a cozy, down and dirty okonomiyaki….a must when in Hiroshima. I finally find “Okonomiyaki Mura” (Village), a one block area full of small restaurants. The building I enter has multiple restaurants on each floor. More like stalls, really. The walls are covered with mirrors, making each level look as though it goes on forever. I finally settle on one place and sit down. Kind of hard when they all look the same, but I order up a pancake and a frosty nama beer.

Hiroshima-yaki is a work of art. Every visitor to Japan has LOVED it! Layers of batter, noodles, egg and cabbage and smothered in sauce. Awesome! I can’t help but feel like Anthony Bourdain as I sit eating. What’s next!?!?

The best thing about Hiroshima. Hiroshima-yaki.

Still hungry and enjoying a relaxed Sunday night, I set off to find a yakitori joint on my No Reservations tour of Hiroshima.

After searching, and failing, to find a cool place I’d passed earlier, I settle on a different place. I sit down at the bar and order up some treats on a stick. After a while I start talking with the cook and waitresses. Naturally they say my Japanese is great….something I hear often but never believe, because it is usually said immediately after I say my first “sumimasen”.

After a few drinks and lots of food I head back to my tiny little business hotel. Being that it’s Mother’s Day, I call my mom and chat for a while and then call Yui to say “good night”. It’s still early but tomorrow will be a full day of cycling and it’s calling for rain so I want to get going asap.

So, I pull back the covers slightly, and without looking (this detail will become very relevant, very soon), slip into bed and go to sleep. Tomorrow its hit-the-road time!